2017-10-26 / Front Page

Donehoo and HIT String Band will perform for History in Park

“Just don’t call it bluegrass” – old-time mountain music will be the topic of discussion at the latest installation of the Historical Soci­ety’s “History in the Park” lecture series, set for Thursday, November 2, beginning at 7 p.m. at the Lincoln County Historical Park.

If you don’t know the difference between old-time mountain music and bluegrass, consider attending the next History in the Park talk, as David Donehoo and the Hillbillies in Training (HIT) String Band will specifically point out how to tell the difference between the two styles. The audience will note that there is some particular sensitivity about that difference.

Donehoo is dedicated to preserv­ing the tradition of old time moun­tain music; not only does he teach young folks how to play it, he even makes the instruments. He and his group play all over the local area demonstrating the music and ex­plaining its genesis and evolution.

Fresh from their performance at the Washington-Wilkes Mule Day festival, Donehoo and the HIT String Band will both play wonder­ful music and explain its heritage the evening of November 2.

This is a follow-up to their ap­pearances at History in the Park in previous years, which were very popular with the audiences. The event will be held in the May House, so cold outside temperatures or in­clement weather will not preclude attendance.

“The HIT String Band has be­come a tradition both for Pioneer Day and History in the Park. I have to admit that I am probably their big­gest fan, but I, like most of the rest of us, am so busy on Pioneer Day that we don’t get a chance to stop and listen to their great music, so this is our chance to enjoy it,” Lincoln County Historical Society President Gary Edwards commented. “This evening.’.s .event .provides .an .interac­tive experience where the audience can ask questions about the music. It provides the historical perspective on the difference between bluegrass (which is a relatively new innova­tion) and old-time music. It will be a great evening and you won’t want to miss it!”

Donehoo is a retired educator and an amateur luthier who grew up in the small, rural town of Roswell, which at the time was much like Lincolnton is today. His family, the Donehoos, had come to America from Ireland in the early 1700s and settled in North Georgia in the 1790s.

According to Donehoo, “when they came they brought their music with them and have been playing ever since.”

As a child he never thought much about his family’s musical heritage, but as he grew older he began to question his elders and soon learned of its history and origin.

Donehoo’s earliest memories were of the old-time music.

“My introduction to music started when I was just a toddler. Almost ev­ery weekend we’d go to Grandpa’s house and make music. Sometimes, there’d be a few people drop in to lis­ten and sometimes everybody would pack up and go play at a neighbor’s house. If the music wasn’t playing, somebody would be telling some humorous tale about coon huntin’, or how old man so and so slipped off the roof and landed in a manure pile. Whatever was going on at the time, you can be sure it was extremely entertaining,” Donehoo said.

“My grandfather was usually the ‘Master of Ceremonies’ at these impromptu concerts and his ‘drop thumb claw-hammer’ banjo pickin’ mesmerized me as I listened to songs like ‘Billy in the Low Ground,’ ‘Soldier’s Joy,’ and ‘Cotton-eyed Joe,’” he continued. “My father’s contribution was on the fiddle and he was every bit as accomplished in his style of play as was my grandfather. It was on days like this that I developed a love for ‘old-time music’ and have since been privileged to continue the tradi­tion and pass it on to others.”

According to Donehoo, today, bluegrass is “all the rage,” but the roots of bluegrass and country music are found deeply embedded in what is referred to as “old-time music,” or “Appalachian music.”

“This was the music of the Irish and Scots who settled in the iso­lated regions of the Appalachian Mountains. Most of the music at that time was played on dulcimers and fiddles and was conducted as a social event and everyone was wel­come to contribute. In other words music was something not just to listen to, but rather to participate in,” Donehoo said. “It was in this environment that I began to play and enjoy old time music and today I still get a thrill hearing 10 or 15 musicians, of different ages and abilities, sit around in a circle and belt out an old tune like ‘Sugar Hill’ or ‘Fisher’s Hornpipe.’

“The old-time music has been pre­served and nurtured by many who still love it. And today I not only have the privilege of teaching others to play the old style music, but have also become involved in building and repairing early Appalachian instruments,” he added.

The Historical Park is located at 147 Lumber Street, and the Histo­ry in the Park lectures are held on the first Thursday of each month from March through November, with the exception of July.

Desserts, water, coffee, and tea will be served after the presentation, allowing plenty of time to speak individually with the speaker.

There is no admission fee, how­ever donations to the Historical Society will be accepted, as the Society is a 501(c)3 non-profit or­ganization.

For more information, contact Edwards at 757-831-9556.

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