A show for Joe
by Jeff Eason
But most of all, it was a community coming together to honor someone who built that community in the first place.
Mountain Home Music's annual St. Patrick's Day celebration of Celtic and bluegrass music on Sunday served as way for the Mountain Home Music community to honor Joe Shannon, who started the whole thing 21 years ago. The celebration was held in the main gallery of the Blowing Rock Art and History Museum. Performers included the Mountain Home Music Bluegrass Boys, Strictly Clean and Decent and the Forget-Me-Nots.
More than 200 people attended the benefit concert, which served as a fundraiser to help Shannon with medical bills accrued during his recent battle with cancer.
Before the intermission of the show, former Boone mayor Wade Wilmoth presented Shannon with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, North Carolina's highest civilian award, for his contributions to culture of the High Country and for helping to preserve musical traditions in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
"This is a great day for all of us," Wilmoth said. "This Long Leaf Pine award goes to Joe for all his contributions to help save the special music and storytelling traditions of our area."
Shannon was able to rise from his wheelchair to accept the award and wave at the crowd of more than 200.
After the concert, Shannon gave musical instruments from his vast collection of acoustic instruments to the various musicians who had performed at the benefit concert.
"We have been spoiled for more than 20 years by having someone take care of us," said concert performer and emcee Patrick Crouch. "As musicians, all we've had to do is show up and play. Joe has taken care of all of the behind-the-scenes work for two decades and we are incredibly grateful for it."
At the beginning of the show, Maura Shawn Scanlin of the Forget-Me-Nots played an instrumental fiddle tune she wrote for Shannon. The Forget-Me-Nots, including fiddler Willa Finck and guitarist David Finck, also performed an original tune about the month of June, written by Forget-Me-Not Ledah Finck, who was out of town at the time of the concert.
The Mountain Home Music Bluegrass Boys, a house band started by Shannon several years ago, performed "Merry Weather," "The Groundhog Shuffle," "Whiskey Before Breakfast" and several other songs. The band included David Johnson on fiddle, Steve Lewis on guitar, Scott Freeman on mandolin, Josh Scott on upright acoustic bass and Edwin Lacey on banjo.
Strictly Clean and Decent, including Patrick Crouch on guitar, banjo and mandolin, Kay Crouch on guitar and penny whistle and Ron Shuffler on bass, performed "Maggie," "The Singing Bird" and other tunes.
More than $5,000 was raised at the benefit concert.
Mountain Home Music
Joe Shannon began his Mountain Home Music shows at Our Daily Bread restaurant in downtown Boone in 1994.
Quickly outgrowing that limited space, Shannon moved the shows to a variety of spaces in the High Country, including the Jones House and St. Luke's Episcopal Church.
During the past few years, Mountain Home Music has found a semipermanent home at the Blowing Rock School Auditorium.
Mountain Home Music shows generally celebrate the traditions of Appalachian Mountain music, but also feature more modern country and bluegrass and traditional genres, such as Celtic and old-time string band music. Storytelling and dancing have also been staples of the shows during the years.
Mountain Home Music's calendar of concerts features shows that celebrate numerous holidays, including St. Patrick's Day, Labor Day, the Fourth of July and Christmas.
Shannon recently stepped down as executive director of Mountain Home Music for health reasons.
The Mountain Home Music board is working to produce the concert series for its 21st season.