The Greenbrier Valley Winter Music Festival returns to downtown Lewisburg next Saturday, promising a night of music to please almost any ear. According to festival organizer Jim Snyder, the festival has grown to include musicians from Pocahontas, Mercer, Monroe, Raleigh and Fayette counties and the Covington/Clifton Forge area of Virginia. Of course, Greenbrier County favorites are on the schedule as well.
This year, seven venues will host bands on nine different stages. The Greenbrier Valley Visitors Center will host music fans of all ages, as will the Wild Bean coffee shop, while the Lewis Theatre, The Asylum, The Irish Pub, The Sweet Shoppe and the Greenbrier Valley Theatre will serve up beer, wine and spirits to accompany the night of music.
The Winter Music Festival began as a fundraiser for local musician Tim Pyne, who lost his home to a fire just days before Christmas in 2012. As musicians rallied to help Tim and his wife Tammy, Snyder and local musician John Foster came up with the idea to hold a multi-venue festival in Lewisburg, charge $25 per person and give the money to the Pynes. “I said to John, let’s bring all of these pockets of musicians together; let’s go big.”
T&T Music Festival, held at the beginning of February in 2013, was a smashing success on a night where usually many people would have just as soon stayed home. A heavy snow had blanketed Lewisburg, and it continued to snow throughout the night.
“It was so picturesque, almost like a Norman Rockwell painting,” remembers Snyder. “All those people in the bars and giant snowflakes outside. In a way, I wish we’d have a nice snow this year.”
Regardless of what the weather has in store for Saturday night, Snyder hopes for another strong turnout. “It’s all about community,” he says, noting that the festival continues to be a fundraiser for musicians in need.
“Our basic mission is to create a cushion for when someone in the music community experiences financial stress,” he says. All of the bands volunteer their time for the festival, and all of the proceeds from the night go into an account overseen by Snyder and several other musicians. If they hear of someone who is going through a financial hardship, such as a house fire or an illness, they gather together and see how they can help.
The community of musicians doesn’t just give money, he says. Sometimes, a musician may put the word out that their guitar amplifier has blown out, or they need an extra microphone. “We all rally, and see if we can find someone some equipment so they can go to work,” says Snyder.
Last year, money from the festival went towards a new percussion cabinet at Eastern Greenbrier Middle School; young musicians will use the cabinet for years to come. This year, Snyder says there is no one thing or person the festival will raise money for. This year, proceeds will go into the emergency account in order to help musicians in need.
The festival opens at Greenbrier Valley Theatre at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 31, with an introductory
reception. Other venues will open shortly after. One $20 adult wristband will allow access to all of the
venues. Wristbands can be purchased in advance at the GVT box office during normal business hours and on the day of the festival with cash only. A youth stamp can be paid for at the Greenbrier Valley Visitors
Center the night of the festival for $5.