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41st Annual Carter Fold Festival July 31 & August 1

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Carter Family FoldHiltons, VA -- In 1960, the great music archivist Alan Lomax sounded the alarm that American consumerism was rapidly destroying the nation’s most unique musical traditions and replacing them with a sterile monoculture, or bland sameness. He ominously foretold Tomorrow … when the whole world is bored with automated mass-distributed video-music, our descendants will despise us for having thrown away the best of our culture. Lomax was right to worry. By 1960, American society was changing at a faster pace than ever before. Traditional music, often called the jewel of American culture, was considered passe’ and forgotten by the mainstream.

1960 was also the year that Carter Family patriarch A.P. Carter passed away. Though the Carter Family are today frequently regarded as country music’s greatest stars, A.P. died in relative obscurity, running a grocery store in Maces Springs and wondering whether the world still cared about the musical traditions he had spent his life championing. He implored his youngest daughter, Janette, to do something to carry on the traditions of Appalachia so that future generations might know the beauty of mountain culture. Janette promised her father: Daddy, I’ll try.

Honoring her father’s wish was no easy task. Janette was a working mother with three children to support. But she never forgot her promise, and eventually she reopened A.P.’s grocery store as a venue for mountain music concerts and dances. In 1974, she organized what is today the Carter Family Memorial Music Festival. The first festival – then called the A.P. Carter Memorial Music Festival – featured appearances by two of the original Carter Family trio – Sara and Maybelle Carter. Many other Carter Family descendants were on hand for the first festival as well. Then Janette worked with her brother Joe and sister Gladys to open the Carter Family Fold. The Fold now showcases live music every Saturday night, and is proud to host the 41st Carter Family Memorial Music Festival on Friday, July 31st and Saturday, August 1st.

The 41st annual festival gets started on Friday night with a headlining performance by the hugely popular Folk Soul Revival. A thoroughly modern band with a firm and genuine respect for their Appalachian roots, Folk Soul Revival will no doubt pack in a huge crowd anxious to hear exciting Americana music with some modern kick. On Saturday, the Fold proves that old time is still our time with two of the region’s most beloved old time mountain music acts – the Whitetop Mountain Band and the Mountain Park Old Time Band. Bluegrass fans will also have cause to celebrate on Saturday with performances by Big Country Bluegrass and a special Troublesome Hollow reunion concert. Carter Family music enthusiasts will be treated to music as close to the original mountain ballads played by the first family of country music as it now gets. Ronnie Williams will be playing and singing in true Carter tradition and style on some of the original instruments they actually used and owned. Artists performing include Big Country Bluegrass, Mountain Park Old Time Band, Troublesome Hollow, Whitetop Mountain Band, Great Smoky Mountain Cloggers, and Ronnie Williams.

Janette Carter lived long enough to see her father’s wishes come true. With over 40 years of history and tradition, the Carter Family Memorial Music Festival has earned a reputation as one of the true, must-see events of the year.

Come on over to the Fold, have some delicious home-cooked Appalachian food, and join us on our famous dance floor. Don’t forget to stop by the old grocery store – now the Carter Family Museum – and A.P. Carter’s boyhood cabin – both lovingly restored and filled with rare artifacts. You and your family will see that, even in the face of an American culture that is changing faster than ever, the traditions of Appalachia are treasured now more than ever.

The Carter Family Memorial Music Festival remains true to Janette Carter’s original vision: the festival still proudly boasts “good music and good food” while remaining affordable, family-friendly, and supportive of traditional mountain music and crafts. Leave your cares behind, and spend a weekend listening to some of the most beautiful and heart-felt music God ever created. In addition to some of the best music and food the region has to offer, there will be lots of craft vendors on hand displaying and selling homemade mountain crafts and treasures. We will have a pickin’ tent set up for folks who want to jam. Join us for the 41st Carter Family Memorial Festival!

The Carter Family Memorial Music Festival will be held at the Carter Family Fold in Hiltons, Virginia. The Carter Family Memorial Music Center now stands as a tribute to the love and devotion Janette Carter felt for her father, her amazing family, and the music they created.

The very existence of the Carter Memorial Music Festival can be credited to a younger generation honoring the generation before it. Since shows began in 1974, the Carter Fold has earned a reputation as a place for music fans of all ages to congregate, including multiple generations of Carter descendants. Today, the Carter Family Fold is proudly managed by Janette’s daughter, Rita Jett Forrester, who works alongside other Carter descendants, volunteers from around the world, and a dedicated Board of Directors to ensure that the newest generation of young people will discover the wonders of our treasured mountain music.

Janette presented shows of acoustic-only old-time and bluegrass music in the grocery her Dad ran in the 40s and 50s from August, 1974 (and later at the Carter Family Fold), until her death in January, 2006 – devoting the last 32 years of her life to the music center. Despite the fact that she never graduated from high school, Janette Carter established a nonprofit, rural arts organization and a museum. She oversaw the move and restoration of the A.P. Carter birthplace cabin and proudly watched as it opened to the public. Along the way, she won the NEA’s Bess Lomax Hawes National Heritage Award. NEA’s highest honor, the award paid tribute to her lifelong advocacy of the performance and preservation of Appalachian music.

This year’s festival is dedicated to the memory three people who were much loved members of the Carter and Carter Fold families. They are Dixie Hall, Don Davis, and Raymond Shuler. Dixie and Don are examples of the Carter Family’s extended family of musicians. Tom T., Johnny Cash, Marty Stuart, Connie Smith, and Rodney Crowell are examples of the extended Carter Family in country music circles. Rock musicians like Nick Lowe and Howie Epstein are also examples of musicians whose lives were changed by their connection to the Carter Family. Raymond was a part of the Fold’s family for many years – rarely missing a Saturday night performance. All three of these special people will be greatly missed by us.

Dixie – along with her husband Tom T. Hall – spent many years helping to insure that the Carter Family Memorial Music Center would always be a reminder of the Carter Family and their phenomenal musical legacy. Serving as a board member of the center, Miss Dixie cooked, cleaned, planned construction projects, and did everything in her power to preserve the Carter’s musical legacy in the respectful and honorable manner the family was – and is – so deserving of. An adopted member of the family, Miss Dixie lived with Maybelle and her husband, Ezra when she first came to the U.S. from England.

It was Maybelle who introduced her to Tom T. Their nearly 50–year marriage formed another link in the amazing extended musical family that the Carters nurtured and opened their arms and hearts to. Dixie’s husband, Tom T., generously contributed his talent and resources alongside his cherished wife. Thanks to him, many of Miss Dixie’s awards and treasures grace the Fold stage. On Saturday nights, one of Tom T.’s touring guitars – a well-worn Ovation – sits on the stage as a lasting reminder of his love and respect for the family Miss Dixie called her own. He continues to do everything he can to support and honor the Carter Family Fold and everything it stands for. Miss Dixie was a part of the Carter Family from the time she came to America. Her last wish was to join them in the Unbroken Circle in Heaven. We know she did just that.

Donald Stewart Davis passed away this spring in Gulf Shores, Alabama. He was Anita Carter’s husband, and their children are Lorrie Davis Carter Bennett and John Christopher Davis (Jay).
A professional steel guitarist, Davis moved to Nashville as a teenager and joined the Grand Ole Opry as a member of Pee Wee King’s Golden West Cowboys. At the time he joined the Opry at age 15, he was the youngest staff musician ever to work at the Opry. He recorded with such artists as George Morgan, Tex Ritter, Hank Williams Sr., Dinah Shore, Cowboy Copas, Minnie Pearl, and many others.

After his marriage to Anita, they moved to Mobile where Don hosted the Alabama Jubilee – a long-running live television show. He later returned to Nashville as songwriter Harlan Howard’s general manager. After that, he served as operations manager for Waylon Jennings. As an executive on Nashville’s famed Music Row, Davis was responsible for “pitching” numerous country hits to artists. He brought hits like Jackson, A Boy Named Sue, and One Piece at a Time to his famous brother-in-law Johnny Cash. In 1997, Davis was elected to the Alabama Music Hall of Fame. There was always a special, close relationship between Janette, Anita, and their children.

Lorrie came to live with Janette’s family in Virginia for several years, and Jay visits every year to this day. Jay served as best man at Rita’s wedding. Don loved to visit Virginia and cherished all of Anita’s family. Rita traveled to Mobile when he died and saw to it that the song he wanted was played at his funeral – Prop Me Up Beside the Jukebox if I Die. Don was one of the most unique and wonderful men in the world, and he brightened the lives of everyone who was blessed to know him and be loved by him.

The festival is also dedicated to the memory of Raymond Shuler. Raymond rarely missed a Saturday night concert. He was, in fact, on his way to the Fold the day he died. A southern gentleman, he represented all that was good about Appalachia. A fine dancer, he greeted old friends and newcomers to the Fold with a warm, welcoming smile and a hug. Bands recall that he always requested his favorite song – Golden Slippers. The dance floor at the Fold isn’t quite the same without him on it.

Miss Dixie, Don, and Raymond were all very special to us. Please keep their families in your prayers. We loved them very much, and we were blessed to have them as part of our Carter and Carter Fold families.

Tickets are available at the gate only; all seats are festival seating. Tickets are $10 for adults on Friday, $20 for adults on Saturday, or both days $25 for adults. Children’s tickets (ages 6 to 11) are $5 a day; under age 6 free. Gates open at 3:00 p.m. Friday and at noon on Saturday. Music on the stage gets underway at 6:00 p.m. on Friday night and at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday afternoon.

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