Carnegie Hall and the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame present “High Flying Birds: A Billy Edd Wheeler Tribute” on Friday, Nov. 9, at 7:30 p.m. at Carnegie Hall.
A well-known cast of musicians and singers are scheduled to bring Wheeler’s music to life including Larry Groce, Julie Adams, Richard Hefner, Christine Campbell, The Carpenter Ants, Greg Trafidlo, John Lilly, Mark Bates, Susanna Robinson, and The Sycomores. Wheeler will be at the event to talk about and sign his new autobiography, “Hotter Than a Pepper Sprout.”
Larry Groce is an American singer-songwriter and radio host. Since 1983, Groce has served as the host and artistic director of Mountain Stage, a two-hour live music radio program produced by West Virginia Public Broadcasting and distributed by NPR. He first entered the national spotlight in 1976 when his novelty song “Junk Food Junkie” became a Top Ten hit. After that, Groce’s voice became well known by children and parents alike as a result of his Platinum recordings of classic children’s songs for Walt Disney Records Children’s Favorites four-volume series.
The longtime featured vocalist on the popular syndicated radio series Mountain Stage, Julie Adams was also a staple of the many CD collections the show spawned; she and backing band the Rhino Boys made their solo debut in 1996 with “Struck by Moonlight,” releasing “Live” a year later. “I Don’t Mind Walking” followed in 1999.
Banjo player and tenor vocalist Richard Hefner is a member of The Black Mountain Bluegrass Boys, one of West Virginia’s longest-running bluegrass bands. The group first organized in 1968. As with many bluegrass bands, the Black Mountain Bluegrass Boys have had changes in personnel over the years. Richard Hefner remains as the lone original member. Hefner’s traditional bluegrass banjo playing and tenor vocals have contributed both the bands longevity and “high lonesome” sound. His banjo skills have won him many contests including the Vandalia Festival.
Christine Campbell has been president of AFT-West Virginia since 2012. She also serves as a vice president of the West Virginia AFL-CIO and is a member of the AFT executive council’s organizing committee. Before moving to Charleston, Campbell was the lead vocalist for the band Sweety.
West Virginia’s premier rhythm and blues group, the Carpenter Ants – guitarist Michael Lipton, drummer Jupiter Little, bassist Ted Harrison and vocalist/saxophonist Charlie Tee – have quietly amassed a resumé that rivals many national groups. The group’s trademark country-soul sound, which is described as rich, soulful harmonies, stinging solos and a rock-solid rhythm section, captures that rare, loose-but-tight feel, and has won the band international as well as regional fans. In 2008, the Ants were asked to perform on the NPR show “Whad’Ya Know?” The Ants have performed twice on Mountain Stage.
Greg Trafidlo is a singer-songwriter and guitarist who has shared the stage with Tom Paxton, Bill Monroe, Kathy Mattea, Emmylou Harris, Peter Yarrow, John Prine, Mark O’Connor, John McCutcheon, Robin and Linda Williams, Steve Gillette, John Hartford, The Kingston Trio, The Brothers Four, Cheryl Wheeler, and many others. He has appeared on over 50 releases and produced over three dozen recordings, which include 10 with his trio Trifolkal.
John Lilly is a multi-faceted performer and songwriter who makes his home in Charleston. An award-winning songwriter, John is also recognized as an accomplished vocalist and song stylist. He accompanies himself on acoustic guitar and mandolin, playing original songs that sound as old as the hills and old songs that sound like they were made yesterday. He is especially known for his mastery of the early country music styles of Jimmie Rodgers and Hank Williams. John is considered a fine yodeler and frequently teaches workshops in yodeling.
Born in Hurricane, Mark Bates has written over 200 songs. He has conducted the West Virginia Symphony Orchestra, traveled as a professional jazz trumpet player, and recorded a full-length album. In the vein of Lucinda Williams and Tom Waits, Mark’s music has strong Americana roots and is centered around storytelling. Mark currently lives as a full time musician in Nashville, TN.
The Sycomores’ roots run deep in gospel music. Growing up, Jessica Kirk and Zack Harold’s families both had southern gospel groups that traveled across West Virginia and surrounding states. They began playing music together in 2014 and started writing songs together, combining traditional themes of Christian music with the sounds of country, bluegrass, folk, and rock music. Josh Holstein, a multi-instrumentalist who plays in their church and has recorded several bluegrass gospel albums of his own, and Richard Harold, Zack’s dad and the group’s pastor, round out the band.
Susanna Robinson has played with at least 20 musical groups in and around the Greenbrier Valley since the 1970’s. Currently, she plays with a variety of musicians and is trying to put something together with musicians in Pocahontas County.
The West Virginia Music Hall of Fame exhibit is located at Carnegie Hall and will be open before the show. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
Tickets to this event are $15. For tickets or more information, please visit www.carnegiehallwv.org or call Carnegie Box Office at 304-645-7917, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. through October.