On Tuesday, April 9, ETSU’s Bluegrass, Old-Time and Country Music Studies Program presented a showcase of student and faculty bands at downtown Johnson City’s The Willow Tree.
Bands from several different genres graced the stage, such as gospel group The Damascus Travelers, bluegrass group International Drive, and Celtic group Roaring Jelly, along with many more. These various performances did wonders to demonstrate the talents within the program, as explained by director of the program Daniel Boner.
“I think it demonstrates the importance of this music in academia,” says Boner. “For a long time, there were people who questioned whether a university needed to offer music like this. Now, 37 years later, since the founding of our program, I think it is pretty obvious that this music is valuable to the community, to the people of the mountains.”
It is apparent from the group entertainment that the program reaches an even broader audience. Students performed from around the world, including some from California, some from Canada, even some from as far as Australia. Boner elaborates on the students in the program: “They come here to study this music they have loved all their lives; some of them are discovering it for the first time and trying to learn about it.”
The musicians performed student composed songs as well as timeless classics, showing off their prowess on a variety of instruments such as the mandolin, guitar, six-stringed banjo, and many others. The tunes blended together with the soulful voices characteristic of the genres to create an unforgettable show. The Willow Tree was the perfect backdrop for the stellar performance with its multicolored lighting and inviting ambience.
The audience was left stunned by the talents of the multitude of musicians.
“The humor of the show along with the fact that these are young college kids that are just very talented are our favorite parts,” says avid program supporter Kim Holdway. “It’s just lots of fun. We really enjoy it. Another great part is being able to hear these kids at a local place like this is just really neat.”