Mountain Music Concert Series

Bluegrass music reverberates through the hills of Bruceton Mills as the summer concert series enters its 10th year.


Photo courtesy of Holly Glison

Smack dab in the middle of forests sprawling with oak, birch, and hemlock trees sits a quaint park with only two buildings, a scattering of pavilions, two small lakes, and some playground equipment. The two forests that surround Chestnut Ridge Park, Coopers Rock State Forest and West Virginia University’s Research Forest, dwarf the area almost into leafy oblivion. Needless to say, the setting for the 10th annual Mountain Music Concert Series is perfect for the plucking and strumming sounds of bluegrass, the music of the backwoods.

As the fireflies start to come out of their hiding places and dot the grassy slope, the concert of the evening is already well under way. This grassy slope is where everyone sits toe-tapping to the bluegrass sounds coming from the wooden stage below. Most of the time, though, people can’t help but to stand and dance. The atmosphere is simply sublime. “There’s a lot of energy, a lot of excitement. People are up dancing. Even kids get up and dance,” says Holly Glison, superintendent of Chestnut Ridge Park. These lovers of bluegrass line the slope of Chestnut Ridge Park every other Saturday evening during the summer months to get in on the good times and watch talented musicians perform their best hits. Every show is chock-full of fiddling, strumming, and sweet vocals entertaining as many as 600 people.

The successful music series was the brainchild of former superintendent of the park, Bruce Miller. Ten years ago Bruce wanted to bring something unique to the park— something only Chestnut Ridge could provide. He also wanted to fill a void he believed was present—a good ol’ bluegrass concert series. “The past superintendent got this idea and took off with it,” Holly says. Bruce took a gamble, but it paid off in the end. “It gets more popular every year,” Holly says.

Ten years later, Holly says they still try to bring the best bluegrass acts around to play their hits. Organizers also strive to bring in local vendors like Tailpipes to provide food for the event. Already this summer, she says, “We have brought in more vendors for more of a variety.” Concerts take place from 6 to approximately 8:30 p.m., though Holly hopes they can go longer in the future.

Bluegrass bands that have already graced the stage at Chestnut Ridge Park include Wild Rumpus, The Half-Time String Band, and Stewed Mulligan. Looking ahead, the popular Hillbilly Gypsies, who tour up and down the Mid-Atlantic, are slated to perform, as well as Morgantown-based LoganTown Bluegrass. The Second Cousin show originally scheduled for July 19, 2014, was rained out and is also rescheduled for August.

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