Allegheny Echoes (Marlinton, WV)


A child plays the fiddle surrounded by adult musicians.A child plays the fiddle surrounded by adult musicians

Afternoons involve instructor-led jam sessions at Allegheny Echoes's summer workshops in Pocahontas County, West Virginia. Photo courtesy of Allegheny Echoes

Allegheny Echoes in Marlinton was created by a group of West Virginian musicians and writers to promote, support, preserve, and teach the traditional Appalachian culture, specifically music and literature, of the state. Allegheny Echoes's principal activity is the annual week-long summer workshops in Pocahontas County, West Virginia. Students work with master artists in instruction in creative writing, fiddle, banjo, guitar, lap dulcimer, hammered dulcimer, mandolin, bass, and vocals.

In FY 2004, Allegheny Echoes received an NEA Heritage & Preservation grant of $8,000 to support the workshops. In seven years of holding the workshops, participation has grown from 28 students the first year to more than 100. Although students have ranged in age from 6 to 88 years old, Allegheny Echoes focuses on passing down the West Virginian heritage to young people by providing youth scholarships to those without financial resources to attend the workshops.

The 2004 workshops took place June 20-25, 2004. For the musical instruction, mornings were devoted to classroom instruction and afternoons involved instructor-led jam sessions. The creative writing class took field trips for inspiration, and had a Poetry Walk - a performance piece involving community members and instructors. Evening activities included square dancing, poetry readings, and student and staff concerts.

The Master's Program featured an hour-long presentation by a different master artist each afternoon. The master artists in 2004 were Franklin George: fiddle, banjo, and Scottish pipes; Bob Shank: hammer dulcimer and banjo; Elaine Purkey: singing and guitar; Charlie Loudermilk and Junior Spencer: banjo and fiddle; Woody Simmons: fiddle and banjo; and Kirk Judd: creative writing.

(From the 2004 NEA Annual Report)