(West Plains) – The Old-Time Music, Ozarks Heritage Festival in downtown West Plains will celebrate its 20th year June 20 and 21 by bringing back two well-received acts from last year’s event and adding two first-time festival performers as headliners on the festival stage.
Returning are award-winning buck dancer Thomas Maupin with his grandson, Daniel Rothwell and his band, who will perform at 6 PM June 20, and the multi-talented sister act SHEL, set to take the stage at 8 PM June 21.
Joining them in their first performances ever at the festival will be the Grammy Award-winning group, The New Christy Minstrels, under the direction of Randy Sparks, who will take the stage at 8 PM June 20, and area favorites The River Girls of the Rhodes Family, who will perform at 6 PM June 21.
Admission to these performances, and all other festival activities, is free.
“The overall mission of the Old-Time Music, Ozark Heritage Festival is all about preserving traditions, and there are few traditions as close to people’s hearts as music,” said festival committee member Emily Gibson. “Our headliner selections this year combine youth and experience in a way that we hope will bring out audiences of all ages. From the master class buck dancing of Thomas Maupin to the enthusiastic energy of SHEL, the headline performers truly exhibit that great music rooted in storied traditions transcends generations.”
The Old-Time Music, Ozark Heritage Festival is the signature event for West Plains. The two-day festival seeks to celebrate, preserve, pass on and nurture an appreciation of the old-time music and folk life traditions distinctive to the Ozark Highlands.
Festival partners include the West Plains Council on the Arts, the City of West Plains, the Ozark Heritage Welcome Center, West Plains Civic Center and Missouri State University-West Plains. Partial funding for this event was provided by the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency.
THE NEW CHRISTY MINSTRELS
One of the pioneers of folk music, the The New Christy Minstrels have mixed the old with the new and are now better than ever, with seven members sharing their diverse and unique talents. “We’re still alive, we’re still creative and eager to please, so we make a deal with the audience – We’ll do all the old songs you came to hear if you’ll allow just a couple of newer ones,” Sparks said.
The group won a Grammy for its 1962 debut album, “Presenting the New Christy Minstrels,” and they’ve been winning awards ever since for such songs as “Today,” “Green, Green,” “Saturday Night,” “Denver” and “Mighty Mississippi.” Their newest album “Nice Time to Be Alive” was released in July 2013, as was their greatest hits CD, “Recycled.”
“Randy Sparks visited West Plains last summer on a trip through the Ozarks and fell in love with the area,” Gibson said. “We are excited to have the band come to entertain our festival audience. This group pioneered folk music, and we know this will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience featuring the premiere of a song inspired by Randy’s visit to West Plains.”
After a great performance at the 2013 festival, sisters Sarah, Hannah, Eva and Liza will take a break from recording in Nashville to come back and show what old-time, traditional music sounds like in the hands of the next generation.
The four were raised in Fort Collins, Colo., in an atmosphere of creative freedom and diligent study that allowed them to hone their musical skills and blend their personalities and visions into a unified whole. From their fetching, unpredictable songs to their whimsical, hand-made top hats, SHEL makes a profound impression on their growing audiences and to critical acclaim. They’ve played public radio’s Etown, Echoes, South by Southwest, Nashville’s Music City Roots, Lilith Fair and many other distinguished festivals, and they’ve had songs in national television ad campaigns for Splenda, Glade and a song featured on the CBS series “Jersey Girl.”
“We are eager to bring back SHEL after a great performance at last year’s festival,” Gibson said. “They will leave anyone attending their show looking for their latest video on CMT.”
THOMAS MAUPIN AND DANIEL ROTHWELL
One of America’s best known buck dancers, Thomas Maupin is a true legend and master of his craft. The recipient of the Tennessee State Governor’s Folklife Heritage Award, Old-Time Herald Heritage Award and the Uncle Dave Macon Days Trailblazer Award, Maupin has won over 60 first place titles, including the national buck dancing championship, which he has won six times, and state championships in Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama, to name a few. Now over 70, Maupin hasn’t lost a step and is still a sought-after performer at festivals and events around the country, where he re-introduces audiences to old-time mountain music buck dancing.
Providing the music for his dancing will be clawhammer banjo specialist Rothwell and his band, which includes Danny Rothwell, Chris Gray and Sharlene Hazelwood. Daniel has won many competitions across the South, including the 2010 national championship and the 2011 Tennessee state championship. He has performed at the Grand Ole Opry, Merlefest, the Ryman Auditorium, IBMA’s Kids on Bluegrass and the Old Time Opry Variety Show.
Joining them will be 2013 National Old-Time Buck Dancing Champion Hillary Bevels. Now 21, Bevels began dancing at age 8 when she joined a clogging team and performed at nursing homes. She took up the fiddle a few years later and developed a passion for the music, as well as the dance.
“If you haven’t seen Thomas Maupin in action yet, you’ll definitely not want to miss this performance,” Gibson said. “This is one tribute to our past we are happy to give our audiences a chance to see.”
THE RIVER GIRLS
As the daughters of Dot and Dusty Rhodes of the world renowned Rhodes Show, it’s only natural that Sandra and Donna Rhodes took up performing themselves. Joined by Brenda “Bear” Barnett, the trio have been delighting audiences in the area with their talents.
Through the years, these same talents have brought them into the sphere of some of the greatest performers in Nashville and beyond, including Tanya Tucker, Mel Tillis, Al Green, The Bee Gees, Elvis Presley, Paul Anka, KC and the Sunshine Band, Conway Twitty, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Clint Black and Garth Brooks. Sandy and Donna also have been nominated for a Grammy for a record produced by Chet Atkins called “The Clown.”
“The Rhodes Family Reunion last year included a concert that still has people talking,” Gibson said. “The River Girls are high energy, and any fan of The Rhodes Show is sure to fall in love with Brenda and the gang all over again.”