Surry Community Holds Old Time and Traditional Music Camp

Participants of Surry Community College’s annual Surry Old Time and Traditional Music Camp gather around Mrs. Betty Wright after thanking her and her family for the generous financial contribution to the college that funds the summer camp as well as the college’s additional efforts to promote and preserve the musical heritage of Surry County and the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Surry Community College recently held its second annual Surry Old Time and Traditional Music Camp for children ages 8 through 14.

Led by five local old time music greats, Caroline Beverley, Steve Lewis, Chester McMillian, Lucas Pasley, and Madison Shepherd, the 19 campers spent the week exploring Surry County’s musically rich heritage as each participant learned the basic playing methods for an instrument of their choice. Participants chose between learning to play the fiddle, banjo, guitar or mandolin, and some ambitious students even chose to learn more than one instrument. Camp participants also had the opportunity to take part in singing or dance lessons.

Those who attended the camp are Cameron Bowman of Ararat, Hanna DeBord of Piney Creek, Daniel Harding of Pilot Mountain, Garrett Harding of Pilot Mountain, Hunter Hiatt of State Road, Matthew Holder of Lowgap, Camden Hull of Mount Airy, Carter Hull of Mount Airy, Aysys Lanning of Asheville, Hunter Largen of Mount Airy, Aaron Mauck of Pilot Mountain, Jay Mitchell of Pilot Mountain, Hazel Pasley of Sparta, Lenke Pasley of Sparta, Talmage Pasley of Sparta, Haston Puckett of Siloam, Ben Sain of Dobson, Olive Whitney of Emmaus, Pa., and Zane Williams of Lowgap.

Campers stayed busy throughout the weeklong camp with more than just exciting lessons. ShadowGrass, a popular bluegrass band made up of young musicians from western North Carolina and southwestern Virginia, performed for campers on Tuesday. On Thursday, Paul Brown, a local old time musician, as well as a newscaster and reporter who has spent years observing and documenting the musical traditions of the region, visited the camp to share his knowledge on the history of old time music and musicians from this area.

Much to the enjoyment of friends and family in the audience, the final day of camp culminated with an unforgettable performance by the campers. Among those who attended the performance was Mrs. Betty Wright, the camp’s benefactor, who was recognized and graciously thanked at the end of the show.

Mrs. Wright and her family have a longstanding relationship with Surry Community College that began in 1988 by establishing an endowed scholarship. Additionally, her husband Hylton served on the SCC Foundation Board as a member of the Investment Committee that set the organization on the path to its current fiscal strength.

After Mr. Wright’s death in 2012, Mrs. Wright and her daughter Tamara Thomas provided financial support to the college to begin an effort to promote and preserve the musical heritage of Surry County and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Mrs. Wright shared that her husband greatly enjoyed and valued traditional music.

In addition to hosting the annual music camp for children, the college has been a co-sponsor of the Surry Old Time Fiddler’s Convention since its inception in 2010. The college’s Social Sciences Division recently added an Appalachian Culture course that takes an in-depth look at the many elements that shaped the culture surrounding this region including its musical influence; the division also plans an annual performance by outstanding musicians that entertain and educate students with regional music. This year’s annual concert will be held Oct. 18 on Surry’s campus in Dobson and will feature the Slate Mountain Ramblers, a family band trio from Mount Airy.

For more information about SCC’s annual Surry Old Time and Traditional Music Camp, contact Sonnie Hardy at (336) 386-3229 or hardysc@surry.edu. To view a video of the camp’s concert, go to facebook.com/surrycommunitycollege and look in the video section. 


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