It was an evening of food, friends and fun as residents from across the county gathered at the Pocahontas County Opera House Friday evening for the first ever Season Preview Party. Dim lighting – illuminated by the strings of twinkling lights hung from the balcony’s rails – created an intimate, inviting atmosphere. The familiar strains of Appalachian folk music played in the background as members of the community and the Pocahontas County Opera House Foundation board browsed the silent auction, loaded their plates with delicious food, and enjoyed a glimpse into the upcoming season.
“We were so excited about next year’s season that we wanted to invite friends – old and new – to come to the Opera House for a sneak peek at what’s in store for them.” Opera House Operations Manager Byrnn Kusic said of Friday night’s event. “The Board has really outdone themselves preparing for this, and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
At 6 p.m., members of the board kicked off the 2016-2017 Season Preview with a collection of videos highlighting the talents of this season’s 17 upcoming performances. Familiar faces – such as the Black Mountain Bluegrass Boys, the Bing Brothers with Jake Krack, and the Ladies of Liberty – were among scheduled performances, as well as a number of new ones.
Among the artists previewed Friday night were the Bucket Brothers – Casey and Logan Valleroy. These North Carolina-based teens began playing at the young ages of five-and seven-years-old, respectively, and they have earned recognition for their sophisticated arrangements, seamless improvisations and what has been called “a beyond-their-years mastery of jazz.”
The Bucket Brothers will open the 2016-2017 season Saturday, July 16, at 7:30 p.m.
On October 22, Muriel Anderson will take to the Opera House stage. Anderson – one of the world’s foremost fingerstyle guitarists and harp-guitarists – is often described as an engaging performer and is known for her unique playing ability. With just her guitar, Anderson is able to transform her instrument into a lyrical choir, a marching band, a Japanese koto and more.
Later on in the year, Kentucky native Ben Sollee will make his way to Pocahontas County along with his cello, Kay. Sollee’s music is fluid and continually morphs from one piece to the next. The familiar strains of Appalachian music transform into a sound reminiscent of the blues, and the blues segue into a beautiful fragment of Bach.
Sollee is scheduled to perform on Saturday, November 19, at 7:30 p.m.
Foundation members Michelle Jeffers and Sue Groves worked with local artists and businesses to organize and prepare an array of gift baskets for the silent auction. Date nights and weekend getaways were among the items being auctioned off, as well as a number of handcrafted wares from local artists.
To the right of the silent auction, founding board member Jud Worth organized a historical slide show presentation of the Opera House through the years. Among the images chosen for the presentation were those highlighting the many changes and renovations that the Opera House has undergone. Blackened walls served as a reminder of the fire that damaged the building’s left side, and the floor’s bare bones were revealed in an image from the Opera House’s time as a car dealership.
At the front of the Opera House, the newly restored Opera House miniature made its debut.
The miniature was discovered earlier in the year, and it was clear that the replica had been weathered by time and age. Chips, scratches and scuffs littered its surface, and small sections of wood – a vibrant brown against the creaminess of the exterior of the Opera House – were lost in the years since its creation. Tiny window panes came loose over the years, and in some cases, the windows were missing all together.
However, not all hope was lost.
Under the care of Teresa and Trampus Hammons, the miniature was restored to its former glory and more.
“We want to make new friends, folks who will come back to see a show or volunteer to help out,” Kusic said of the event, “and we wanted to say thanks to all our old friends and the people in this community who have made the Opera House such a success.”
The Pocahontas County Opera House is located at 818 Third Avenue in Marlinton.
Performances at the Opera House are informal, family-friendly and open to all. The entrance and main seating are accessible to persons with disabilities. Persons with disabilities are encouraged to attend; special accommodations can be arranged upon request by calling 304-799-6645.