By SARAH BRADBURY
Wytheville Community College (WCC) is sponsoring its free monthly Bluegrass and Old-Time Jamboree, this time featuring the Southern Gentlemen and the Mountain Park Old Time Band from 7 p.m to 9 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 17.
The Jamboree will be held in the William F. Snyder Auditorium on the WCC campus, located at 1000 East Main St., Wytheville.
The Southern Gentlemen is a bluegrass and bluegrass gospel band based in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and the Piedmont of North Carolina. They were founded in 2000 by Johnny Johnson and Gary Handy. Their music is described as being up to date and down to earth, with a drive and energy that keeps their audiences amazed and enthused. The Southern Gentlemen have been headliners at several bluegrass festivals on the circuit, including Wayside Bluegrass Festival in Stuart, and Lil’ John’s Mountain Music Festival in Burlington, N.C.
The band features Johnny Johnson, guitar and lead vocals; Gary Handy, mandolin, fiddle and singing harmonies; Bobby Whitlock, vocals, banjo, and guitar; and Johnny Mullins, upright bass and vocals.
The Mountain Park Old Time Band was formed six years ago, as a group of friends who happened to enjoy old-time music got together to have a good time. Nancy and Johnny Gentry had played for many years with the White Top Mountain Band. Nancy is the designated leader of the band. Johnny can play every instrument and has taught an unknown number of people to play any instrument they desire. He also is a well-known and respected luthier of banjos. The Gentrys are from Mountain Park, N.C.
C.T. Janney is well known for his dancing. He was featured at the Blue Ridge Music Center as one of the top dancers in the area. He drives the band’s rhythm and beat with his washboard playing, as well as his dancing. He is from Floyd, and travels all over the area dancing. Roger Stamper is a virtuoso fiddle player from Independence. He now lives with his wife, Amy, in Dobson, N.C. He plays any style of fiddle from bluegrass, Irish, country, boogie-woogie, to old-time. He can also play guitar and bass, and does vocals. He is the emcee of the show, and always has a joke or two to tell. Mark Handy, M.D. is from Ennice, North Carolina. He plays the banjo and does some of the singing, and sometimes dances as well.
The band has been very fortunate to have played at Bristol Rhythm and Roots for the past three years. They perform at the Carter Fold several times a year. They also play at the Alleghany Jubilee the second Saturday of every month. They have been featured on “All Things Considered” on NPR for playing at the second-longest-running radio show in the country on WPAQ.
The Mountain Park Old Time Band has opened for the bluegrass supergroup Blue Highway, as well as opening for the Carolina Chocolate Drops. They were the winners of Instrumental Group of the year at the Blue Ridge Uprising in 2013. They also play at Live at the Rex several times a year. The band is known for their dance music, whether it be square dance, flat-foot, clogging, two-step, or waltz. More than anything, they have a great time and it shows in their performance.
The Southern Gentlemen will perform from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., and the Mountain Park Old Time Band will perform from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. The doors will be open at the William F. Snyder Auditorium at WCC beginning at 6 p.m. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. The event is free and open to the public. Donations will be accepted to help defray the travel expenses of the bands.