Big Stone Gap, VA – The 52nd Home Craft Days festival kicks off with the annual Opening Night Concert at 6 p.m. on Friday, October 20th in the Goodloe Center at Mountain Empire Community College in partnership with Pro-Art. It’ll be an evening steeped in tradition with performances from Elizabeth LaPrelle and the Family Band, Martha Spencer and the Wonderland Band, and annual favorites Tommy Bledsoe, Rich Kirby, Todd Meade, and Tyler Hughes! This event is free and open to the public, everyone is welcome to attend.

Elizabeth LaPrelle and the Family Band have been performing and recording music together for over 20 years, sharing the music they love to make in their living rooms and kitchens. It’s a real family affair consisting of Elizabeth herself as the frontwoman, sharing the stage with her mother, Sandy LaPrelle, uncle and aunt Jon Newlin and Amy Davis, and most recently her husband, Brian Dolphin. They let their eclectic tastes be their guide through a repertoire of ancient mountain ballads, old-time tunes, novelty songs, and gospel harmonies. 

Elizabeth LaPrelle is exceptional in her devotion to and mastery of the ancient and deep art of Appalachian unaccompanied singing. She performs with a sense of conviction, honesty, and emotional force that evokes the great Appalachian ballad-singers of generations past. She has developed her repertoire from neighbors like Jim Lloyd, under the tutelage of powerful female ballad singers Ginny Hawker and Sheila Kay Adams, and from a wealth of field recordings of legendary singers from the mountains.

Martha Spencer is a singer-songwriter, mountain musician and dancer from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. She grew up in the musical Spencer family and learned to play several instruments (guitar, fiddle, banjo, bass, dulcimer, mandolin) and flatfoot/clog at a young age. She performs and has recorded with various groups and has been involved with several roots music projects. She has played shows, festivals and led workshops across the US, Australia, UK, Canada, and Europe.

Tommy Bledsoe, Rich Kirby, Todd Meade, and Tyler Hughes will open Friday night’s concert. Tommy Bledsoe and Rich Kirby have extensive roots in Southwest Virginia’s old-time music. The two have been instrumental in organizing music for Home Craft Days for over 40 years. Combined, the four represent over fifty years’ experience with the region’s music and its tradition bearers like Janette Carter, Uncle Charlie Osborne, and Ralph Stanley. 

The 52nd Home Craft Days celebration will be held October 20-22 on the campus of Mountain Empire Community College in Big Stone Gap, Virginia. Saturday and Sunday will feature performances every hour on two stages. Enjoy the food, fun, and friendship of Southwest Virginia and come home to the Home Craft Days festival. Find more information and the schedule of events at homecraftdays.org.

Pro-Art partners with a variety of venues, therefore individuals with mobility issues or general questions are encouraged to call (276) 376-4520 or email the Pro-Art office at pro-art@uvawise.edu. For evolving conditions related to weather cancellations, or similar unforeseen circumstances, patrons are encouraged to check proartva.org for up-to-date information.

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