2017-11-02 / Front Page

HIT String Band performs tonight

“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.”

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

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