The annual Opry Night at the Pocahontas County Opera House has come to represent some of the best bluegrass and traditional talent in the region. This year’s headliners, Sugar Run and Stony Bottom Bluegrass, will share the Opera House stage Saturday, February 18, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10. Youth 17 and younger are admitted free of charge. Sugar Run began as the husband and wife team of Mike (banjo, guitar and vocals) and Bonnie Johnson (bass, fiddle and vocals) and has grown to include Geoff White on fiddle and vocals, Rachel Johnson on fiddle, and Stanley Asbury on the rhythm and flat-picking style guitar and vocals. Each of Sugar Run’s musicians play with other groups in the region, as well. Sugar Run’s musicians are based in the Allegheny Mountain regions of Virginia and West Virginia, and their regular performance venues include the New River Valley of Virginia and West Virginia, and the Greenbrier Valley of West Virginia. Their musical repertoire consists primarily of traditional music of the Southern Appalachian and Piedmont regions in the style of older (and some contemporary) bluegrass, old-time, old “Country” music, a few Cajun tunes (in French, sung by White) and some ancient ballads and tunes with roots back to Scotland, Ireland, and England. Sugar Run’s music includes songs of love-gone-bad, train wrecks, bad-men and hangings, murders, ghosts and hauntings, moonshine whiskey, and death and redemption. Many, if not all of those themes may occur in the same song. Sugar Run also include songs of humor as well as peppy fiddle tunes suitable for flat-footing, square dancing, or just standing around and tapping your feet.
Stony Bottom Bluegrass, formerly known as Hot Mater Gravy, features Homer Hunter, who is a one-of-a-kind storyteller and a long-time local radio personality on the community stations of Allegheny Mountain Radio. Stony Bottom Bluegrass plays traditional bluegrass with influences including Bill Monroe, Jimmy Martin, Ricky Scaggs, Flatt and Scruggs and Larry Sparks. Joining Hunter are band members Dana Moyers, of Richmond, Virginia, on mandolin; Dewitt Daniell, of Lewisburg, playing a straight ahead Scruggs-style banjo; Bob Riggleman, of Lewisburg, on bass; and Bob’s wife, Julie Riggleman on second rhythm guitar and vocals. Advance tickets are available at pocahontasopera house.org and at the 4th Avenue Gallery in Marlinton. Tickets will also be available at the door the night of the concert. 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. Support is also provided by Pocahontas County Dramas, Fairs and Festivals and the Pocahontas County Convention and Visitors Bureau.