Opry Night at the Opera House has come to showcase some of the best musical talent from the two Virginias. This season’s Opry Night features Virginia favorite Southern Rail Express and West Virginia banjo virtuoso Bob Shank on Feb. 28 at 7:30 p.m.
Southern Rail Express Bluegrass Band is based out of Bath County, VA. The band first formed in May 2010 to perform for the C&O Railway Heritage Center. Since then, Southern Rail Express has played for many private events in the area including the Homestead Resort in Hot Springs.
They have also made many public appearances including the annual Maple Festival in Monterey, and the Bath Jamboree, held at the Bath County High School, along with names like Joe Mullens & the Midnight Ramblers and The Little Roy & Lizzy Show, among others. Band leader Willie Smith, hosts TGIF Bluegrass on Allegheny Mountain Radio every other Friday. Their latest CD, Gotta Travel On, which includes bluegrass favorites like “Good Hearted Woman,” “Ole Slew Foot,” “When My Blue Moon Turns to Gold Again,” “Gotta Travel On,” and more.
For more than three decades Bob Shank has been a benchmark for American banjo players. Not bluegrass or old-time, or classical or ragtime, but all that and more. A sixth-generation West Virginian, Bob began his musical journey at age 5 with drums and piano, and by age 13 he was firmly hooked on banjo. And then guitar. And then hammered dulcimer. And an abiding rock-and-roll sensibility.
Shank has performed on NPR’s Mountain Stage. He has been an invited guest at West Virginia University’s annual World Music Concert and has been a Master Artist at the Augusta Heritage Center’s Spring Dulcimer Week, the Upper Potomac Dulcimer Festival, and West Virginia’s traditional music camp, Allegheny Echoes. Shank has also won first place old-time banjo at West Virginia’s celebration of traditional arts, the Vandalia Gathering.
Tickets are $10. Youth 17 and under are admitted free of charge. Tickets are available in advance at pocahontasoperahouse.org and at the Fourth Avenue Gallery in Marlinton.
The Pocahontas County Opera House is located at 818 Third Avenue 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 West Virginia Division of Culture and History and the National Endowment for the Arts, with approval from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts. Support is also provided by Pocahontas County Drama, Fairs and Festivals, the Pocahontas County Convention and Visitors Bureau, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, Pendleton Community Bank, the Law Office of Roger D. Forman, Brightside Acres, Glades Building Supply and Burns Motor Freight.