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In concert: Music from the Crooked Road: Mountain Music of Virginia at Reston Center Stage

crooked roadThe rich musical heritage of Virginia was well represented at Reston Center Stage Thursday night. (All photos by Evy Mages)

By Scott Galupo

To some Northern Virginia residents, "Lee Highway Blues" might refer to the mental toll of the morning commute.

But at Reston's Center Stage on Thursday night, it was a small nugget of history from the "Crooked Road," the 250-mile highway that slices through the state's music-rich Southwestern region.

For 2 1/2 hours, a bevy of Virginia natives, young and old-ish, joyfully walked through Scotch-Irish traditionals, mountain ballads and hymns, fleet-and-fiery old bluegrass and 21st-century newgrass.

(A visit to D.C.'s Lisner Auditorium, plus more pictures after the jump.)

crooked road

The production, handsomely and efficiently mounted by the National Council for the Traditional Arts as well as the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, was emceed by folklorist Jon Lohman, who stressed the music's miraculous continuity.

Appalachia was once the first frontier of the New World; now it hosts hiking trails for eco-tourists and wayward Southern governors. But tunes like "Pretty Saro," chillingly rendered a cappella by Elizabeth LaPrelle, probably sounds much the same, now as then.

Lohman billed bluegrass picker and luthier Wayne Henderson - the jocular subject of the book "Clapton's Guitar: Watching Wayne Henderson Build the Perfect Instrument" as well as recipient of a National Heritage Fellowship - as the evening's most eminent star, but Henderson seemed happy just to melt into the background.

And with good reason: Virtuosity onstage Thursday could be assumed as much as admired, whether from banjoists Sammy Shelor, Kirk Sutphin and Steve Barr; flatpicking ace Josh Pickett; or Eddie Bond, who could seemingly handle every stringed instrument they could make room for on the touring bus.

To those wary of reverse pilgrimages to the exurbs, lament not: The Crooked Road tour winds its way to George Washington University's Lisner Auditorium Friday night.

crooked road

crooked road

By David Malitz  |  April 16, 2010; 12:15 PM ET
Categories:  In concert  | Tags: Crooked Road, No Speed Limit  
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