INDEPENDENCE, Va. — Junior Appalachian Musicians, Inc., has partnered with two Roanoke-based organizations, Friends of the Blue Ridge and Buzz4Good, to develop an hour-long video segment for Blue Ridge PBS. This collaboration celebrates cultural arts along the Blue Ridge Parkway, focusing on how musical traditions are being passed along to the next generation through community JAM programs. The segment will air at 9 p.m. on Saturday, May 1 on Blue Ridge PBS television.
The episode features five young musicians ranging from ages 11 to 17 who have gained great interest and talent in old time and bluegrass music by participating in JAM programs.
Sophia Puckett of Galax, Va., 17, is a singer, clawhammer banjo, mandolin, and accordion player who has already evolved from JAM student to JAM teacher in less than ten years. “This experience has taught me how to reach out to kids and get them to want to learn about the music,” commented Sophia about her recent transition from student to teacher.
Logan Thompson, age 14, of Glade Spring, Va., got his musical start in the two JAM programs serving Washington County and Smyth County. A multi-instrumentalist, as well, Logan plays upright bass and clawhammer banjo in a way that feels more like generations of experience, rather than only a few short years.
To demonstrate the powerful impact place-based education can have on students, Savannah Hodges of Wytheville, Va., joined the cast. At age 11, she has only been playing fiddle for a few months, but music “runs in her family” back to her great grandfather, James Lindsey. Savannah will be participating in the Wythe County JAM program next school year.
Graydon Shepherd, 12, of West Jefferson, has been playing the fiddle in the Ashe JAM program since third grade. Much of his fiddle repertoire is local to Ashe and Grayson musical history — an area that is known for being a hotbed of musicians. He cited one of his favorite songs to be, “Sugar Hill,” a tune that is heard commonly at local fiddlers conventions and jam sessions.
Karlee Hamm, 13, of Lansing, also participates in Ashe JAM, where she has learned how to play guitar and sing from local teaching artists. Karlee has been winning prizes in youth contests since a young age and enjoys performing with the New River JAM Band, of which Logan and Sophia are also members. This performing group has graced stages at FloydFest, Merlefest, HoustonFest, Knoxville’s WDVX Blue Plate Special, and the West Virginia Strawberry Festival.
The segment will feature a mix of old time and bluegrass music from the young musicians, as well as interviews and information about the important missions of the organizations involved. If you are located outside of the viewing area, Blue Ridge PBS can also be streamed online. Find out how at www.blueridgepbs.org, and follow the community work of each of these organizations at www.friendsbrp.org, www.buzz4good.org and www.jamkids.org.