The Black Mountain Bluegrass Boys take the Opera House stage on Aug. 27 at 7:30 p.m. To loyal Opera House concertgoers – and anyone who knows bluegrass music in West Virginia – the Black Mountain Bluegrass Boys need no introduction. The Black Mountain Bluegrass Boys are among West Virginia’s longest-running bluegrass bands.
The group first organized in 1968 around the foursome of Richard Hefner (banjo/tenor vocal), his brother Bill Hefner (guitar/mandolin/baritone vocal), their late uncle Glenn “Dude” Irvine (mandolin) and the late Harley Carpenter (guitar/lead vocal).
They took their name from Black Mountain in their native Pocahontas County. For five years the group worked a weekly radio show on WVAR, in Richwood. They also made regular appearances at local events and regional bluegrass festivals.
In the mid-1970s they recorded a pair of albums: “Million Lonely Days” and “Talk of the County.” More recent albums include “Black Mountain Bluegrass Boys 1968-1973,” “Live at Midnight,” “Live at The Opera House,” and “Live at Greenbrier Valley Theatre.”
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 continuity and much of the “high lonesome” sound for which the band has become so well-known. He has displayed his banjo skills many times as a victor in contests and at the Vandalia Festival.
Chris Nickell from Monroe County, contributes driving lead and rhythm guitar work as well as lead vocals. Rick Carpenter – son of founding member Harley Carpenter – picks a fine mandolin and sings lead and baritone vocals. Bass player Mike Smith, of Culloden, has worked with such notables as Larry Sparks, Dave Evans, and the Goins Brothers.
Tickets for the August 27 performance are $10 for adults. Youth 17 and younger are admitted free of charge. Tickets are available at the door and in advance at pocahontasoperahouse.org or at the Fourth Avenue Gallery in Marlinton.
Performances at the Opera House are informal, family-friendly and open to all. The entrance and main seating are accessible to persons with disabilities. Persons with disabilities are encouraged to attend; special accommodations can be arranged upon request by calling 304-799-6645.
The Opera House Performance Series is presented with financial assistance through a grant from the WV Division of Culture and History and the National Endowment for the Arts, with approval from the WV Commission on the Arts. Support is also provided by Pocahontas County Drama, Fairs and Festivals and the Pocahontas County Convention and Visitors Bureau.