RONCEVERTE (WVDN) – Skyline on the River, a tribute to the original Skyline Bluegrass Festival, is set for Saturday, July 16, 5-10 p.m., in the amphitheater located on Ronceverte’s Island Park.
The original festival took place on the Blake Family mountaintop farm overlooking the Greenbrier River above the town of Ronceverte from 1976–1985. Bill Blake and Bill Simms, both of Ronceverte, were the promotors.
Records show that between 10,000 -15,000 individuals (many camping out) from across the United States gathered on the mountaintop farm to enjoy the three-day event.
The original Skyline Bluegrass Festivals featured some of the greatest names in bluegrass, along with up-and-coming artists and an array of guitar, banjo and fiddle pickers gathered around campfires playing to the wee hours of the morning.
A wide variety of cultures were united over music — and good music it was.
The festival’s line-up over the years included the legendary Bill Monroe and The Bluegrass Boys, John Hartford, Doc and Merle Watson, Ralph Stanley and The Clinch Mountain Boys, Seldom Scene, J.D. Crowe and The New South, Norman and Nancy Blake, The Doug Dillard Band, The Osborne Brothers, John
Prine, Elmer Bird, Billy Bowden and The Bluegrass Connection, The Buffalo Gals (all females and unique in bluegrass music history), along with a host of other stellar local and national artists.
The original Skyline Bluegrass Festival was formed to preserve and advance the tradition of Bluegrass and Newgrass music in West Virginia. It was the first and largest in the state.
New Skyline Productions, Inc. is committed to embracing and continuing this purpose. This new non-profit organization was formed to bring this widely popular event back to the River City in its outdoor amphitheater situated on the Greenbrier River.
The stage is covered, but the Clifford Armory in Ronceverte has been secured as a rain location in case of inclement weather.
For this first year, there will be no admission charge.
The evening will feature five high- energy groups that are comprised of local and regional musicians. They include award winning bluegrass bands High Fidelity of Nashville and Coaltown Dixie, and all-female group heralding out of the Appalachian hills in East Kentucky.
Newcomers to the national scene is Troubadour Blue. This innovative trio is composed of siblings Brenna and Eli Wheeler of Nashville and Daniel Kim Ethridge Austin, Tx. They are known for “marrying themotifs of modern bluegrass with the poeticism found in Nashville’s songwriting scene.”
Award-winning and Mill Point, W.Va., native Richard Hefner, and The Black Mountain Bluegrass Boys, have been playing together for over 50 years.
This bluegrass quartet features Dave Bing, Blaine Sprouse, and “Black Mountain Bluegrass Girl” Joanna Burt-Kinderman.
Rounding out the roster will be the infamous Ramp Supper Band, back from a long sabbatical.
Formed back in the 70’s, members include David and Henrietta Crandall, “Buffalo” Bob Foster, and West Virginia’s celebrated son, Richard Hefner.
In addition, the festival will present special guest violinist Adam DeGraff.
Food and beverages will be available for purchase by local vendors. In addition, the public is encouraged to attend a photographic exhibit, The Skyline Bluegrass Festival “Peace, Love, and Bluegrass Music” 1976–1985.
The exhibit, curated by The West Virginia Music Hall of Fame, features the work of the official festival photographer, Pat Bauserman.
The opening reception is Saturday, June 25, from 3-5 p.m. at the West Virginia Museum of Music in the Charleston Town Center.
The event will feature two live bands and refreshments will be served.
A smaller version of this exhibit will open First Friday, July 1, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at The Visitors Center in downtown Lewisburg.
Richard Hefner and the Black Mountain Bluegrass Boys will perform.