The Augusta Heritage Center of Davis & Elkins College will host a downtown concert series this summer, complete with the return of the Augusta Festival in Elkins City Park on Saturday, July 24. At the same time, the Augusta website (AugustaArtsAndCulture.org) will provide learning opportunities with traditional master artists from around the world.
This blended approach to summer events offers insight into how arts organizations are navigating a safe return to live events while giving students an opportunity for in-depth learning.
“A typical Augusta summer welcomes participants from all 50 states and many countries,” explained Seth Young, Augusta’s executive director. “We knew that logistics would make the immersive summer theme weeks impracticable. At the same time, we wanted to offer our immediate community vibrant events as we begin to reopen to full capacity. That’s when we decided to move the classes onto an online format while at the same time offering single day, outdoor events that highlight the best of what Augusta has to offer.”
Live events begin on Thursday, June 24 with a concert performed by Chance McCoy, GRAMMY-winning guitarist formerly of Old Crow Medicine Show, and Justin Golden, a traditional acoustic blues musician from Richmond, Virginia. On Saturday, June 26, bluegrass favorites The Seldom Scene will perform two sets of fantastic music, complete with some of the best picking and singing on the circuit today. Both shows will be at the Elkins Rotary Amphitheatre in the railyard. Suggested donations to support the event is $10 to $20.
“These concerts will be a great way to reconnect with your local arts community and to soak in some wonderful music, so grab a camp chair and come on down,” said Young.
In July, Augusta will return to its roots with an Augusta Festival that celebrates traditional Appalachian craft and music. Over 40 vendors have already signed on to showcase their creations on July 24 and the festival will also host classes and activities for kids and adults, music jams and delicious food from around the state. On both evenings of the festival, Friday, July 23 and Saturday, July 24, Augusta has partnered with El Gran Sabor to host a two-night “Augusta Block Party” on the 400 block of Kerens Avenue in downtown Elkins. Friday will feature an outdoor performance by St. Louis-based roots group The Hooten Hollars. Saturday will feature an outdoor honky-tonk concert and dance with longtime Augusta artists Thomas Bryan Eaton and Miss Tess and locals Jesse Milnes and Emily Miller.
The online portion of Augusta’s offerings features musical lessons from over 75 traditional master artists. Each instructor will teach a 30-minute recorded class that students can enjoy in their own time. During the month of July, Augusta will host a series of live Zoom sessions so that students and teachers can interact with each other in real-time. All Zoom sessions will also be recorded for later viewing. Members will have access to lessons from June 7 – November 1. Registration is based on a sliding scale donation of choice (suggested $100). Learn guitar, singing, fiddle, banjo, mandolin, percussion and much more. For more information, visit AugustaArtsAndCulture.org.
Augusta expresses appreciation to the national, state and community sponsors that make all of this possible. Grants have been awarded from the National Endowment for the Arts, the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History, and the West Virginia Humanities Council. Community sponsors include Davis Medical Center, Davis Trust Company, Our Town Inc. and Holiday Inn Express. The Augusta Heritage Center of Davis & Elkins College is dedicated to uplifting and celebrating the traditional arts of the highlands region of West Virginia and beyond.