Wry Straw with John McCutcheon


E&H College - McGlothlin Center for the Arts

30481 Garnand Drive, Emory VA

Crooked Road Concerts


7:00 PM

Forty years ago the trio known as Wry Straw—comprised of John McCutcheon, Rich Kirby, and Tommy Bledsoe and formerly based in Scott County, Virginia—released its only album, From Earth to Heaven, for the June Appal label before disbanding. These two Homecoming concerts will serve as a rare reunion of three master musicians, each of whom has trod separate but distinguished musical paths after Wry Straw. All three have produced their own acclaimed albums of traditional music, and collectively they have advanced the appreciation for traditional Appalachian music world-wide through performances, radio programs, theatre, teaching and many other endeavors.

John McCutcheon is an American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and storyteller who has produced more than 30 albums since the 1970s. A master of the hammered dulcimer, McCutcheon is also proficient on guitar, banjo, autoharp, fiddle, and other instruments. In addition to his own albums, he has produced albums by many other musicians and has also created instructional projects to help others learn to play various folk instruments. In addition to headlining folk festivals around the world, McCutcheon often performs in support of various causes and community events.

Rich Kirby is a longtime Southwest Virginia resident with eastern Kentucky roots, has mastered traditional Appalachian music from his family and from neighbors. Whether singing a cappella or to the accompaniment of banjo, fiddle, mandolin, and guitar, Kirby sings traditional ballads, religious pieces, and mining songs. He produced an album featuring performances by his grandmother Addie Graham, Been A Long Time Travelling, and also the album The Very Day I’m Gone, featuring interpretations of Addie’s songs by various artists. For many years Kirby has hosted a weekly traditional-music show on Appalshop’s community radio station WMMT.

Tommy Bledsoe moved some years ago to St. Augustine, Florida, where he has continued to perform the old-time and bluegrass music he learned when growing up in Appalachia. A multiple winner of the Florida Old-Time Banjo Championship, and a talented performer on various other stringed instruments, Bledsoe also excels as a folk dancer and storyteller. For nearly 20 years he toured as a member of Appalshop’s Roadside Theater Company. He is an acclaimed educator who shares his knowledge of traditional music with new generations.