Successful first event for ‘Echoes’ series

With almost every seat filled, the “Echoes of the River Valley” kickoff that took place Thursday, Sept. 13 was at times humorous, serious and allowed the audience to reminisce on folk music. The kickoff is the start of four “gatherings” that will commence each month starting Sept. 27.

David Smith opened up with tune on his fiddle. Smith played the fiddle, the banjo, an acoustic guitar and a tinier banjo which he referred to as a “banjo-ukulele.” The instrument sounded exactly like a ukulele. The difference, Smith joked, was that the banjo-ukulele was “nearly unplayable.”

The folk music played was often humorous at times, with Smith cracking jokes himself. He joked throughout the hour, telling the audience monster stories at one point and allowing the audience to join in with a “no-nonsense” tune.

Smith also seemed passionate about keeping folk music alive, remembering that “Every community had a musical going on somewhere on a Saturday night. A lot of the times there would be square dance involved.”

Each song came anywhere from the 1800s to the 1900s, and were loosely based around the folk music of the Ozarks. Some were more Irish and Scottish, but all were filled with a story. The story of these songs were either poetic or amusing, and very different from the popular music on the top charts. No matter how the songs sounded, or where they came from, Smith mentioned that “all that remains is the song.”

The entertaining evening wrapped up as Cynthia Callahan, a country dance caller, reviewed square dancing and other forms of dances that were once a tradition. She showed a clip as an example of what the dances used to consist of. The acoustic songs were often accompanied with these dances.

The rest of the series will take place in Doc Bryan 242 each Thursday beginning Sept. 27 and will end Oct. 18. The last part of the series will take place in Ross Pendergraft Library room 300B and will contain a lesson on hand piecing and quilting. More information can be found on or by calling Ross Pendergraft Library at 479-964-0569.