2018 Season Sponsors
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Yadkin Arts Council

The Blue Ridge Music Center
700 Foothills Rd
Galax, VA 24333
Milepost 213 on
The Blue Ridge Parkway

Music Center Info Call:
(276) 236-5309
Concert Info Call:
(866) 308-2773 x 213
To Purchase Concert Tickets
by phone (866)308-2773 x 212

2017 Hours of Operation:
From May 6 through May 24 the Music Center will be open Thursday through Monday. 10 am - 5 pm.

From May 25 through October 29 the Music Center will be open daily from 10am - 5pm.

The Roots of American Music Museum Exhibit and Mid-Day Mountain Music are FREE and open to the public.

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PURCHASE your 2015 Concert Series SEASON PASS, 1/2 SEASON PASS,  or PICK 5 PASS 

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Playlist on Spotify
-In partnership with-
Virginia Folklike Program
Virginia Humanities Foundation

-Sponsored by-
Virginia Tourism Corporation

A Show for Joe: The 2nd Annual Joe Wilson Memorial Music Festival
with Band of Ruhks, Rob Ickes & Trey Hensley,
Linda Lay & Springfield Exit, Whitetop Mountain Band
and Special Guest Sherman Holmes & The Ingramettes

Due to the forecast of heavy rain and thunderstorms this concert has been moved to the Rex Theatre in downtown Galax VA.
See Schedule below for details

Friday, September 1st
Workshops @ 2pm Concert @ 4pm


Plenty of tickets are still available and can be purchased in person at the Rex Theater beginning at 3 pm.

A Show for Joe is made possible in part by a generous gift from musicians Jerry Douglas, Alison Krauss, Ricky Skaggs, and The Whites, all of whom were befriended by Joe Wilson, whose influence positively impacted their careers.

Presented in partnership with The Virginia Folklife Program and the Virginia Humanities Foundation.



At the Chestnust Creek School of the Arts.
100 N. Main Street, Galax, Virginia (map➚)

2 to 3:30 pm - Workshop led by Fred Bartenstein editor of "Roots Music in America: The Collected Writings of Joe Wilson" & "Lucky Joe's Namesake: The Extraordinary Life and Observations fo Joe Wilson & featuring performances by special musical guest.


At the The Rex Theatre
113 E Grayson St, Galax, VA (map➚)
Click here for Parking Map➚

4 pm - introduction, and song by NEA National Heritage Fellow Frank Newsome
4:15 to 4:45 pm - The Whitetop Mountain Band
4:50 to 5:10 pm - Linda & David Lay
5:15-5:45 pm - The Igramettes
6:00-6:30 pm - Sherman Holmes Project
6:45-7:10 - Blue 58 (Johnny & Jeanette Williams + Stevie Barr
7:15-8 pm - Rob Ickes & Trey Hensley
8:15-9:30 - Band of Ruhks

Band of Ruhks

Band of Ruhks

Some things have a magic all their own. The musical collaboration between Ronnie Bowman, Don Rigsby and Kenny Smith is one of these things. These three men made music together in the 1990’s as members of The Lonesome River Band. Their work there was critically acclaimed and during the apex of the group’s popularity. In 2001, each of them embarked on their own personal musical journeys that led to new heights and influences.
Flash forward to 2010. Following a Lonesome River Band reunion performance, these gentlemen began to explore the possibility of making music together again. They too realized the significance of their past works, but were itching to make new music together. Out of this desire and their longstanding friendship and mutual admiration, Band of Ruhks was born. Bowman, Rigsby and Smith are excited for what the future has in store for this new band.
Their debut album, Bowman, Rigsby & Smith features songs from the pens of such writers as Mark Collie, Chris Stapleton, Harley Allen, and of course Ronnie Bowman himself. The project offers something for everyone from the most prolific Bluegrass aficionado to country music fans to adult contemporary listeners and all points in between.

Ronnie Bowman has long been regarded as one of Bluegrass music’s finest singers and songwriters. With a string of awards (IBMA and SPGBMA Male Vocalist of the Year, Song of the Year, Album of the Year, etc.) and numerous nominations and accolades, his resume is outstanding to say the least.

Don Rigsby became the first full-time director of the Kentucky Center for Traditional Music in 2001. He remained in that position for 8 years. During that time he formed his own band Midnight Call and toured the US and overseas too. As a charter member of the super group Longview he always has kept his strong love for old school Bluegrass music in the front of his musical conscience too.

Kenny Smith formed a band with his wife Amanda Smith and immediately found success. The duo captured the IBMA Emerging Artist of the Year award their first year of existence. Since that time, they have embarked on a remarkable journey of love and music that has led them all over the world. Smith is regarded as being a true original guitar stylist, is a two-time winner of IBMA Guitar Player of the Year and has been nominated multiple times.


Rob Ickes & Trey Hensley

Rob Ickes & Trey Hensley

This unique collaborative effort between two uniquely gifted musicians is bound to be a revelation to traditional music fans on several counts. Rob Ickes is a longtime, well-established instrumental giant, and Trey Hensley is newly arrived in Music City, bursting with talent both as a vocalist and guitarist.

Some things you know are just meant to be—but even when you do, it’s nice to get some outside affirmation.  So while Rob Ickes and Trey Hensley were sure that their musical partnership was the right move at the right time, it was still welcome news when their debut Compass Records project, Before The Sun Goes Down, earned a nomination for the Best Bluegrass Album Grammy just about the time that Ickes took leave of the band he’d been in for over 20 years to make the joint venture the centerpiece of his career.  The duo has since released a 2nd album – Country Blues – on which the pair build on their strengths to take their unique musical conversation to an even higher level.

From his powerful yet sympathetic vocal interpretations of traditional and contemporary material to his jaw-dropping instrumental skills on both acoustic and electric guitar and considerable songwriting talents, Trey Hensley is bursting at the seams with freshness and musical excitement. His resonant baritone voice is rich, expressive, and equally at ease with classic bluegrass, traditional country, and original compositions. Raised in Jonesborough, Tennessee, Trey began playing guitar and singing when he was 10 years old. Invited by Marty Stuart and joined from the wings by Earl Scruggs, Trey Hensley landed on the Grand Old Opry when he was only 11. To this day, Marty Stuart remains a fan and booster. .

Rob Ickes has been playing bluegrass with his much-decorated band Blue Highway for over twenty years, during which time he has been adjudged Bluegrass Dobro Player Of the year fifteen times. Rob has played on countless sessions, recording with artists such as Merle Haggard, Dierks Bentley, Patty Loveless, and Alison Krauss. His most recent album Three Bells is a true dobro summit, collaborating with fellow greats Jerry Douglas and the late Mike Auldridge.


Linda Lay & Springfield Exit

Rob Ickes & Trey Hensley

Vocalist Linda Lay heads an all-star ensemble of award-winning instrumentalists. She spent her early years with Janette Carter at the Carter Family Fold near Bristol, Virginia. With her husband and founding Springfield Exit guitarist David Lay, Linda has toured nationally with the masters of the Steel String Guitar and is the featured vocalist on the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities' "Taking the Crooked Road Home." A Master Artist in traditional singing for the Virginia Folklife Program, Linda has performed with singers across several genres of music, from country's Vern Gosdin and Carl Jackson to Piedmont blues singer John Cephas.

Mandolin player David McLaughlin is Springfield Exit's third founding member. He's perhaps best known for his signature playing and harmony singing with the Johnson Mountain Boys, appearing on eight of their albums for the major indie label Rounder Records, two of which were Grammy finalists. The band's live album won the first International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Album of the Year award.

Singer and songwriter Marshall Wilborn is a 4-time IBMA Bass Player of the Year whose songs have been recorded by Alison Krauss, Rhonda Vincent, and Sierra Hull. Originally from Austin, Texas, Marshall is one of the most sought-after Bluegrass session and touring bassists, performing and recording with the Bluegrass super-group, Longview on all of their albums. 

Tom Adams, 3 time IBMA Banjo Player of the Year has been called "one of the best banjo players ever" by Ricky Skaggs. Tom's recording of Earl Scruggs' "Foggy Mountain Rock" was named the 2013 Instrumental Recorded Performance of the Year by the IBMA. Together with Marshall Wilborn and David McLaughlin, Tom was a long-time member of the Johnson Mountain Boys. 

The Whitetop Mountain Band

White Top Mountain Band

The Whitetop Mountain Band is a family-based band from the highest mountains of Virginia. Whitetop, Virginia is an area rich in the old time music tradition; this band has deep roots in mountain music. The members have done much to preserve the Whitetop region’s style of old time fiddling and banjo picking and are legendary musicians and teachers of the style.

At the same time, Whitetop Mountain Band shows are very versatile and entertaining containing everything from fiddle/banjo instrumentals to powerful solos and harmony vocals on blues, classic country, honky tonk, traditional bluegrass numbers, old timey ballads, originals, and four part mountain gospel songs. Shows also include flat foot dancing. The band is well known for their high energy and charisma on stage.

The Whitetop Mountain Band is one of the most popular dance bands of the Appalachian Mountains. They have a great following at square dances all over Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Kentucky at venues like the Carter Family Fold.
The band originated with Albert Hash in the 1940s, a well-known and beloved fiddler and luthier. In the 1970s, Albert’s brother-in-law, Thornton Spencer (twin fiddle), and his wife, Emily Spencer (banjo, vocals), joined Albert in the Whitetop Mountain Band. 

Members of current Whitetop Mountain Band are: Thornton Spencer on fiddle, and Emily Spencer on banjo and vocals. Their daughter Martha Spencer plays with the band as well. She is a multi-instrumentalist (guitar, banjo, fiddle, bass, vocals) and dancer. Debbie Bramer plays bass and dances in the band. Ersel Fletcher is the newest member of the band and plays guitar and provides vocals.


Sherman Holmes

Sherman Holmes

Special guest Sherman Holmes, the surviving member of the Virginia based, National Folk Heritage Award Winning Group, The Holmes Brothers, who won critical acclaim and popularity for their uniquely southern fusion of rhythm & blues, gospel, soul, and country. The Holmes Brothers recorded and performed with Van Morrison, Peter Gabriel, Odetta, Phoebe Snow, Willie Nelson, Rosanne Cash, Levon Helm and Joan Osborne.


The Ingramettes

Sherman Holmes

For more than five decades, The Ingramettes have been bringing their music and ministry to congregations in the Virginia Tidewater and Piedmont. Their commanding, spirit-filled performances demonstrate the extraordinary depth of talent in American gospel music. The group is one of Virginia’s premier gospel ensembles. Born July 4, 1930, on Mulholland’s Plantation in Coffee County, Georgia, founder Maggie Ingram (1930-2015) worked in the cotton and tobacco fields with her parents. She began playing the piano and singing at an early age, and developed a great love for the church and the ministry of the Gospel. She formed Sister Maggie Ingram and the Ingramettes, a singing group that became sought after for appearances throughout Florida. In 1961 Maggie moved her family to Richmond, where she worked in the home of Oliver W. Hill, the prominent civil rights attorney who represented the Virginia plaintiffs in the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case. The family joined Love’s Temple Church of God in Christ and began singing in and around the city. With her children, Maggie also began a prison ministry, partnering with the Mount Gilead Baptist Church in the 1970s to institute programs like family day in Virginia prison camps. The Ingramettes are gospel icons in Virginia and have received numerous awards, including the prestigious Virginia Heritage Award in 2009. The Virginia Folklife Program’s production of Maggie Ingram and the Ingramettes: Live in Richmond received the Independent Music Awards fan’s choice award for Gospel Album of the Year in 2012.