American Federation of Musicians Local 674, The West Virginia Jazz Orchestra, and the Music Performance Trust Fund presented a live streaming music concert on Facebook and Zoom platforms entitled: Music in the Mountains. The concert was enjoyed by many on Thursday, October 8, 2020.
The event was entitled Music In The Mountains because of the location of the performers in the Appalachian Mountains. Vince Lewis lives in Bluefield, West Virginia, which lies in a beautiful valley between East River Mountain and Stoney Ridge. Ron Ireland lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains on Big Walker Mountain. Jim Snyder lives in the Allegheny Highlands. All the regions are blessed with natural beauty and are a true inspiration for performers.
The concert was hosted by 674’s Gary Williams on Zoom, and Jesse Mursky-Fuller on Facebook. Gary welcomed those who logged into to listen on Zoom, and introduced the artists. He thanked the WV Jazz Orchestra, the Music Performance Trust Fund, and the Local for sponsoring this concert.
Artists included jazz guitarist Vince Lewis, singer-songwriter Ron Ireland, and local guitarist, singer, and entertainer Jim Snyder. All three musicians are members of Local 674 of the AFM chartered in Lewisburg, WV and Covington, VA.
Vince Lewis played a Bossa Nova entitled Desafinado to begin the concert. This jazz standard was penned by Antonio Carlos Jobim. Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd recorded it in 1962 and it became a major hit, charting at number 4 on the Billboard Easy Listening and Pop Chart. The title means “slightly out of tune” and describes some of the slightly dissonant and interesting melody notes and chord voicings and extensions. Vince followed with Bluesette, which was first recorded in 1961 and written by Toots Thielemans – a famous Jazz Harmonica player and guitarist. This is a terrific and interesting jazz waltz that is an international favorite to this day. Bluesette has been recorded by well over 100 jazz artists. Vince added some swing to the concert with the swing tune Sweet Georgia Brown. This classic song was written in 1925 by Ben Bernie and Maceo Pinkard. This song was adopted by the famous Harlem Globetrotters basketball team as their theme song and is known all over the world. Many were surprised to learn that Maceo Pinkard was born and raised in Bluefield, WV, and was inducted into the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame in 2008. There is an official Maceo Pinkard week celebrated each year at Bluefield State College to this day.
Jim Snyder’s first song of the evening was James Taylor’s Down on Copperline and was followed by I Wish I Was a Little Tree. Jim then offered Sam Cooke’s A Change is Gonna Come as a sign of hope for all listening. Jim’s gentle touch on the guitar and his smooth vocal welcomed a few moments of calm. Keeping with that tone and befitting the concert theme of “Music in the Mountains,” Jim played and sang The West Virginia Hills. Jim’s rendition of this song was a request from several audience members, and it was beautiful and very meaningful to those who grew up in the Mountain State.
Singer-Songwriter Ron Ireland performed all original songs. Ron’s musical preferences and tastes changed around ten years ago when he moved to Virginia and started writing and performing a lot more music than he had in the past. His songs tell delightful stories about fun everyday things, as well as reflecting on the difficult events that all of us inevitably face. Ron’s songs included: Hard Times Comin’, Take Your Glasses Off Baby, and My Little World.
Hopefully more concerts like this one can be offered in the future. It’s so important to keep live music in our community and to offer artists an opportunity to share their gifts with so many.