Charleston-area trio Blue Yonder will perform at the Pocahontas County Opera House Saturday, March 5, at 7:30 p.m.
Blue Yonder takes strands of early country music – from swing to honky-tonk, bluegrass and rockabillly – and weaves them together with award-winning original compositions and a contemporary feel. The group features three seasoned musi- cians each with distinctive and notable skills: singer and songwriter John Lilly, national guitar champion Robert Shafer, and bassist Will Carter.
The band’s debut recording, Bittersweet Road, which features all original songs, reached number two on the Freeform American Roots Radio charts in late 2013.
Lilly, Blue Yonder’s vocalist and front man, is known throughout the country and in Europe for his heartfelt original songs about loving, living and losing. Lilly recently released his fifth CD, Cold Comfort, recorded in Texas and Tennessee. In 2007, his Haunted Honky Tonk”CD rose to number one on radio charts in the U.S. and Europe. Lilly’s songwriting earned him top place in the 2005 Ghost Writers in the Sky song contest, as well as the 2010 “Next Great Road Song” contest, sponsored by Spin and Midas. A former tour guide at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Lilly travelled as a member of the Green Grass Cloggers dance team and with Appalachian master fiddler and NEA National Heritage Fellow Ralph Blizard. Lilly now tours widely, sharing his own music.
On both acoustic and electric guitar, Robert Shafer possesses the uncommon ability to play with lightning velocity, infectious swing, or subtle emotion – whatever the music calls for. One of only a few guitar players to have won the prestigious Walnut Valley National Flat Picking Championship more than once, Shafer has released seven recordings, many in partnership with other champion pickers, including Robin Kessinger, Steve Kaufman, and Johnny Staats. Robert was most influenced by Doc Watson’s acoustic flatpicking, but over the past few decades he has spent at least as much time playing his Telecaster with country music bands Southern Mix and the Pourhouse Crew, mastering techniques learned from such standouts as Merle Travis, Danny Gatton, and Les Paul as well as others of Nashville’s hottest sidemen.
Will Carter is the bass player in the Contrarians, a touring contra dance band. He has also played in several bluegrass and old-time bands over the years, including well-known band mates, such as fiddler Bobby Taylor and Nashville banjoist/producer Alison Brown. Carter organizes musical events, having conceived of and helped found the Appalachian String Band Music Festival, Mountain Stage/ NewSong Music Festival and Song Contest, and Charleston Jazz Series.
Together, Blue Yonder entertains audiences of all ages with their songs old and new, their stellar musicianship, their relaxed demeanor and contagious sense of fun and excitement.
Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $10. Children 17 and under are admitted free of charge. Advance tickets are available at pocahonta soperahouse.org and at the 4th Avenue Gallery in Marlinton.
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.
The Opera House Performance Series is presented with financial assistance through a grant from the West Virginia Division of Culture and History and the National Endowment for the Arts, with approval from the West Virginia Commission on the Arts, and the support of the Pocahontas County Drama, Fairs and Festivals.