The 12th annual Aunt Jennie Music Festival, normally held every Labor Day weekend, will be moved to Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 15-16, this year. The pair of free concerts, named in honor of West Virginia folk legend Virginia Myrtle “Aunt Jennie” Wilson and hosted by Museum in the Park, will be held at the Pickin’ in the Park theater, located in the old park stables building in Chief Logan State Park. The theater is halfway between the Liz Spurlock Amphitheater and the campgrounds.
Wilson’s grandson and Logan native Roger Bryant, whose musical roots are in the old-time and folk music traditions, will serve as emcee, and will be joined on stage with other notable old-time musicians. Bryant, who has shared the stage with Tom T. Hall, Tammy Wynette, Kathy Mattea and Kris Kristofferson, also will open for Saturday’s 4-10:30 p.m. concert. Bryant achieved national attention in the late 1970s with his song “Stop the Flow of Coal” and has recorded four albums, the most recent of which is “On the Banks of the Old Guyan.” In 2014, he was the recipient of the Division of Culture and History’s Vandalia Award, West Virginia’s highest folklife honor.
Other Saturday performers include The Earl of Elkview; The Dick Taylor Band, a bluegrass group from Chapmanville; Jeff Ellis, a Huntington native who has appeared on Mountain Stage, was a featured artist on National Public Radio and one of five co-winners of the 2008 Mountain Stage NewSong Songwriting Contest; Sasha Colette, a singer and songwriter with rock and roll, country and soul roots; the High Ridge Ramblers, a trio who plays early bluegrass and old-time music; and Ray Perry, a Logan native, and Friends.
Sunday’s concert, set for 1-8:15 p.m., will feature Glen Simpson, a folk musician from Hardy, KY; Cora and Fred Hairston, gospel singers from Omar; Elaine Purkey, known for her powerful voice, mountain singing and “The Friendly Neighbor Show” band from the weekly radio program on WVOW Radio in Logan; Robert Shafer and The Pour House Band, a country band based in the Charleston area; The Samples Brothers, an old-time music and bluegrass band from Duck; The Stewarts, a gospel group from Clear Fork; Retro and Smiling, a bluegrass band that honors the music of Don Wesley Reno and Arthur Lee Smiley; and The Street Players, a classic rock band from Logan.
Jennie Wilson was born in 1900 in the Doc Ellis hollow of what is now Chief Logan State Park. She was one of the first women in the region to learn to play the banjo, and her music and storytelling made her internationally known for her preservation of Appalachian culture. She was the Vandalia Award winner in 1982. Wilson died in 1992.
For more information about the festival, contact Deborah Durham at the Museum in the Park, at 304-792-7229.