Mollie O’Brien and Rich Moore will perform Friday, June 15, and Robin and Linda Williams and Their Fine Group will entertain audiences Saturday, June 16. Both performances start at 8 p.m. on the main stage just east of the West Plains Civic Center, 110 St. Louis St.
The festival will take place in and around the civic center and along East Main Street. Admission is free.
O’Brien is best known for her performances with brother Tim O’Brien, which resulted in three albums of finely-crafted Americana music. She also has released five solo CDs and shared a Grammy with bluegrass collaborators on “True Life Blues: The Songs of Bill Monroe.” In addition, she has sung numerous times on the PBS radio show “A Prairie Home Companion,” joining host Garrison Keillor and Robin and Linda Williams as the Hopeful Gospel Quartet.
Moore cut a solo CD, “Steady State,” in 2000 that showcased his guitar skills and gift for writing instrumental hooks. He also has backed folk legend Tom Paxton in concert.
After 30 years of making music mostly apart, the husband-and-wife duo have joined forces, cutting their first CD, “Saints and Sinners,” which features covers of such songwriters as Tom Waits, Jesse Winchester, Harry Nilsson, Richard Thompson and George Harrison, as well as a few of their own pieces.
For over three decades, the Williamses have performed “a robust blend of bluegrass, folk, old-time and acoustic country that combines wryly observant lyrics with a wide-ranging melodicism.” Their concerts have earned them a huge body of fans over the years, but as songwriters, Robin and Linda have earned the respect and devotion of their musical peers. The list of artists who have covered their original songs include Emmylou Harris, Tom T. Hall, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Kathy Mattea.
They have recorded numerous albums; toured with Carpenter; saw increased national exposure through their 30-plus year participation in “A Prairie Home Companion”; and made appearances on such major programs as “The Grand Ole Opry,” “Austin City Limits,” “Music City Tonight” and “Mountain Stage.” They also were prominently featured in the motion picture “A Prairie Home Companion,” written by Keillor and directed by critically-acclaimed filmmaker Robert Altman.
Joining these two well-respected acts will be the Blackberry Winter Band and Colin Elmore and the Franz Family. The Blackberry Winter Band, which will take the stage at 6 p.m. Saturday, June 16, features area musicians Marideth Sisco, Tedi May, Dennis Crider, Van Colbert, Linda Stoffel and Bo Brown, who came together to perform for the Academy Award-nominated feature film “Winter’s Bone” and became so successful they had to take their act on the road last year in the Amazing Geriatric Hillbilly U.S. World Tour. The group is cutting a new CD to follow its successful “In These Ozarks Hills,” and it should be available in June, just in time for the festival.
Colin Elmore and the Franz Family will perform at 6 p.m. Friday, June 15. Both come from gospel music roots in their respective hometowns of West Plains and Branson, but they’ve fused their past with the flavor of alternative rock, jazz, blues and acoustic pop to create a unique sound that stays true to the traditional sounds of the region in which they were born and moves it forward, enticing a new and younger generation of fans to the fold. Elmore, who now lives in California, earned a great fan base in Springfield as a member of the alternative rock band Berch and has continued to build his resume performing as a solo act and with friends. He recently joined forces with the Franz Family, and together they cut their debut album, “This Side of the Sun,” at the legendary Ardent Studios in Memphis, Tenn.
Several new activities and events have been added to this year’s festival, organizers said. A Dutch Oven Dessert Bake-Off sponsored by Ozark Mountain Long Rifles and featuring masters of Ozark Dutch Oven Cookery is set for Friday. Contact Harry McKee at 417-257-4104 for more information about the event and how to enter.
The Second Stage is a new music venue that will feature new groups in the area who want to perform old-time music in a new style while maintaining the integrity of the music. Organizers hope the new venue will create a bridge between the generations of musical performers which will allow old-time music to grow and thrive in new ways. Groups wanting to perform can contact coordinator Mathew Crouse at email@example.com for more information.
A short, historic bus ride through downtown West Plains directed by local historian Dorotha Reavis will be offered from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. June 15, and officials at the Avenue Theatre will perform the melodrama “The Belle of Bisbee” at 2 p.m. June 16 for festival goers at the theater on Washington Avenue.
Favorite activities returning include the fifth annual mule jump competition at 3 p.m. June 16 in the parking lot near the West Plains Senior Center; the second annual goat cart races at 7 p.m. June 15 in the civic center’s southeast parking lot; and the 11th annual Bob Holt Old-Time Jig Dancing Competition at 1 p.m. June 16 in the civic center theater.
The Old-Time Music, Ozark Heritage Festival is the signature event for West Plains. The two-day festival seeks to celebrate, preserve, pass on and nurture an appreciation of the old-time music and folk life traditions of the Ozark Highlands.
Major sponsors include the West Plains Council on the Arts, the City of West Plains, the Ozark Heritage Welcome Center, the West Plains Civic Center and Missouri State University-West Plains. Partial funding for this event was provided by the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency.
For more information about the festival, visit www.oldtimemusic.org or the City of West Plains’ festival site, http://www.westplains.net/tourism/otherpages5.php. Facebook users are encouraged to “like” the “Old-Time Music, Ozark Heritage Festival” page for up to the minute information.