Back in the day when I lived in Upshur County West Virginia, I took every chance I could to hang out with, listen to, and jam with the local fiddlers of that part of the state. Randolph County, the next county to the west, was always a hotbed of traditional mountain music, and its festivals drew me like a moth to the flame. Great old music was easy to find at annual events in Elkins, such as the Forest Festival and the famous Augusta Gathering. Renowned string band Gandydancer was always a welcome sight at such events, featuring an all-star lineup of multi-instrumentalists that included Gerry Milnes. Gerry recently retired after serving twenty five years as Folk Arts Coordinator with the Augusta Heritage Center, where he produced numerous audio recordings and films documenting the music and folklife of West Virginia.
In partnership with Emily Miller, Gerry’s son Jesse Milnes now carries on the wonderful tradition of West Virginia folk music with the release in July of their duo album titled JESSE MILNES & EMILY MILLER: Deep End Sessions, Vol. 2. This collection consists of lovely old fiddle tunes and ballads, mixed with a few country songs and original compositions. It was recorded in the unlikely environs of Los Angeles, California at Deep End Ranch, with Jesse and Emily playing and singing around one mic. The result is a pure-drop distillation of West Virginia’s true mountain heart, showcasing Jesse’s traditional fiddling style, Emily’s country and oldtime singing, and their love of close harmony. This record is most certainly one of the top old-time releases of 2015. Recommended!
LISTEN: Fine Times at Our House
LISTEN: Hiram Herbert
VIDEO: Sally Anne Johnson