By Marilyn Delk
When roots supergroup Appalachian Road Show appeared for the first time at Nashville’s iconic Grand Ole Opry last November, that appearance confirmed their inclusion into the realm of premier Bluegrass performers. That appearance was not the first time on the Opry stage for most of the band’s members, several of whom have already earned awards from the International Bluegrass Music Association and been nominated for Grammys, but only the first time as members of this superb ensemble.
When I learned that Darke County Center for the Arts had booked this rapidly rising band for a performance on Saturday, Feb. 11, I thought that it was a good catch. Then, after listening to their self-titled first album, I got really excited about hearing their warm harmonies and amazing musical abilities in person. My excitement grew with the release of the group’s best-selling second album, Tribulation, which speaks to the human condition as well as the human spirit. Appalachian Road Show’s latest successful recording effort, Jubilation, which includes revivals of timeless tales alongside poignant new songs as well as covers of music by Bob Dylan and Led Zeppelin, not only increased my enthusiasm, but inspired expectations of a sellout crowd filling Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall for a stellar show.
And that sellout has not yet occurred! Past DCCA Artists Series concerts featuring Bluegrass stars such as Rhonda Vincent and Ricky Skaggs have been exceedingly well received; DCCA Coffee House shows presenting regionally well-known Bluegrass artists have filled smaller venues to capacity. Unlike skyrocketing prices for arena shows, tickets for DCCA’s Appalachian Road Show performance cost just $30. I don’t get it; what is the problem, people!
Need more detailed information about the talented members of Appalachian Road Show? Well, okay: Jim VanCleve is a veteran Grammy-Award winning fiddler and vocalist who has toured with iconic groups Mountain Heart and Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver, while banjo player and vocalist Barry Abernathy was a founder of Mountain Heart after playing with the afore-mentioned Doyle Lawson band as well as IIIrd Time Out. Darrell Webb sings and plays mandolin and banjo, and has headed his own band in addition to stints with Rhonda Vincent, Dailey and Vincent, and J.D. Crowe and the New South, and Grammy-winning Bluegrass legend Todd Phillips is a founding member of the David Grisman Quintet and has recorded with guitar legend Tony Rice. At age 26, Zeb Snyder whose diverse influences range all the way from Doc Watson to Stevie Ray Vaughn, rounds out the quintet, and is viewed by his fellow band members as a future Guitar Player of the Year award winner.
Want to know more about their music? Well, Appalachian Road Show songs transcend mere entertainment. To begin with, the members are on a mission to illuminate the history, challenges, and rewards of Appalachia, and celebrate the spirit of the people who call that storied region home. The group’s latest album of poignant new songs is a colorful journey chronicling past and present, gently reminding listeners of all the hardships the people of Appalachia have endured with faith and resilience. “Overcoming trials and tribulations is woven right into the people, and it’s woven right into the music as well,” explained Jim Van Cleve. But he adds that this followup to their previous project entitled Tribulation is called Jubilation, indicating that it’s time to turn the page. “We all feel the need to move towards light after such a dark and heavy season,” Van Cleve stated.
Want to know what country icon Dolly Parton thinks of Appalachian Road Show? “I am so proud and honored to have gotten the opportunity to sing with the wonderful Appalachian Road Show. They’re wonderful singers, wonderful musicians, and above all that, wonderful human beings,” Dolly enthused. If Dolly’s endorsement does not move you to buy tickets to this show, I give up!
This is a not-to-be-missed performance. So don’t miss it! To reserve your tickets, contact DCCA on-line at www.DarkeCountyArts.org, by mail at P.O. Box 718, Greenville, Ohio 45331, or by calling 937-547-0908.