Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Bluegrass Helps Spark Downtown Revival - Elkin, NC

The Reeves Theater
The town of Elkin, NC  lies in the foothills between the Smoky Mountains and the North Carolina Piedmont region, the center of the richest vein of bluegrass gold to be found anywhere. Within convenient distance of Winston Salem, Raleigh-Durham, Bristol, TN, and Galax, VA,  it's a small town decimated, like so many others in this interesting a varied state, by the loss of the textile mills once giving it life and vitality. On Sunday afternoon, about 100 people brought their lawn chairs inside the once grand Reeves theater to support the restoration now going on and to help return life to the downtown that once was a thriving commercial center. It was the first performance of any kind in the Reeves since it closed about twenty years ago. The response of the community, in seeking to rebuild the theater as a community performing arts center and a regional draw, shows that life and hope still exist in Elkin.

The Reeves Theater Restoration Project represents an ambitious assault on the forces of decline. Led by local volunteers who've contributed hundred of hours to the project, the work has already begun and funds continue to be raised, even in the current economy, to complete the plan.  Sunday's Reeves in the Raw: Bluegrass and Barbecue showed the enthusiasm helping to create this downtown renaissance.

In the Raw

T-Shirts to Support the Project
Memorabilia from the Old Theater

Coordinator Valerie Oberle w/
Projection of Reeves Project 

Beyond the Blue
First Reeves Performance in Twenty Years

Fittingly, Beyond the Blue, a local multi-family bluegrass band which plays in churches and other venues in the region, donated its time to the first Reeve's performance since 1993.  The band offers a fresh, melodic variety of grassed tunes from other genres including rock, folk, and southern gospel combined with traditional and more contemporary bluegrass music.  Not traditional in look or delivery, their music communicates love and respect for bluegrass along with enthusiasm and skill. 

Jennifer Slaughter, Rita Wiles, 
Robin Hooper, Anita Carter

Quinn Slaughter, Don Bryant, Mary-Clair Hooper

Mary-Claire Hooper

 Ken Hooper, Steve Hudspeth

 Nathan Morrison, Don Bryant, Jennifer Slaughter

Beyond the Blue
Waiting for the Times go Get Better 

The restoration of the Reeves Theater comes at a time when bluegrass bands are increasingly appearing in theaters as part of community concert series. It's fitting that a bluegrass band should provide the opening performance in the Reeves Theater Restoration Project. One can only hope and trust there will be many more. If your interested in contributing to this process, Donate Here.