The ninth annual Tommy Jarrell Festival kicked off yesterday, commemorating the birth of one of the most influential Old-Time musicians.
Jarrell, a member of the Old Time Fiddlers Hall of Fame, as well as other music halls of fame, is often cited by many musicians for his work in popularizing and developing old time music, especially the Round Peak style. He was born in Surry County on March 1, 1901, and lived much of his life in the community.
The festival was started eight years ago to commemorate Jarrell’s accomplishments and his generosity with other musicians — many were known to travel from all over the world to visit with Jarrell, and he was always willing to talk, or play, with any who came to his home.
The festival features renowned old-time musicians and dancers Wayne Jarrell, Ira Bernstein, Benton Flippen, Willard Gayheart, Richard Bowman, Robert Dotson, Kirk Sutphin, Riley Baugus, among others, and will include jam sessions, lectures, music, film, dancing, instrument makers, youth talent and tours of Mount Airy.
The event began yesterday with free fiddle and guitar workshops for youth at 5:30 p.m. in the Old-Time Music Heritage Hall, 218 Rockford St. There is also a free jam session at 7 p.m. in the Old-Time Music Heritage Hall.
The festival continues today with a screening of “Sprout Wings and Fly” at the Downtown Cinema Theatre, 142 N. Main St., at 1 p.m. That evening, there is a dance in the Old-Time Music Heritage Hall at 7 p.m. Benton Flippen and the Slate Mountain Ramblers will play the old-time music that has its roots in Surry County. Wayne Jarrell, Tommy’s son, will be on hand to call the dance.
Festival events for Saturday include an old-time fiddle demonstration by Kirk Sutphin, an old-time dance workshop with Ira Bernstein and Riley Baugus, a screening of the new documentary “Why Old Time?”, and a Youth Old-Time Talent Competition. From 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. local luthiers and artists will have their handiwork on display and for sale in the Old-Time Music Heritage Hall.
A Tommy Jarrell Birthday Concert will be held at 7 p.m. at the Andy Griffith Playhouse. Kirk Sutphin, Ira Bernstein and Riley Baugus, the Slate Mountain Ramblers, Benton Flippen and the Smokey Valley Boys, Back-Step, and others join in this celebration hosted by Lew Bode. Tickets for this event are $10.
For more information on all festival events, contact the Surry Arts Council at (336) 786-7998 or visit www.surryarts.org.