The Virginia Opry will celebrate its 29th performance season by presenting “Music Is Love at The Virginia Opry,” in The Historic Masonic Theatre on Saturday, February 15, at 7:00 p.m.
Jana Allen, a vocalist and actress who has been cast in more than 20 film and TV productions, will emcee the show that will feature three bands: Pico Road Band, Ruckus Bluegrass Band, making its debut on The Virginia Opry as The Appalpickers, and Crimson River. Currently Jana is a member of The Virginia Opry. She has performed with the Virginia Junior Opry and The Opry of The Virginias at venues in the tristate area of Virginia, West Virginia and Kentucky. A trained vocalist, Jana has also performed as a vocalist at a cabaret in Hollywood.
Crimson River, a gospel music band, is no stranger to The Virginia Opry, having performed on The Virginia Opry under the direction of the late Cory Hayslett. Currently, the band features Barry Balser, bass; Howard Nicely, guitar; Doug Shires, drums; Angie Kimberlin, mandolin; and Tanner Seay, guitar. Shires, Kimberlin, Nicely, and Seay provide the vocals.
Members of The Appalpickers will be inducted into The Virginia Opry and perform after Pico Road Band opens the show. Jeff Downey, an award winning guitarist and instructor, has performed for Appalfolks of America Association (AAA) before at The Historic Masonic Theatre, and he will be joined by Ruth Huffman, upright bass; Will Lee, banjo; and Timmy Martin, mandolin. Each member is a vocalist, and the group’s website is Ruckus Bluegrass Band@ theruckusbluegrassband. The group from Rockbridge County is known for its excellent harmonies and traditional bluegrass renditions. When the band plays at The Virginia Opry, the group will be billed as The Appalpickers.
Pico Road Band, a string-instrument youth band, features three musicians who are vocalists: Kaeli Berry, fiddle and ukulele; Justin Broughman, mandolin; and Nathan Fender, guitar. Mica, Nathan’s younger brother, plays the banjo.
M. Ray Allen, director of The Virginia Opry, remarked, “The Virginia Opry has a rich history of preserving Appalachia’s musical heritage via The Virginia Opry, and such country music stars as the late Dan Seals have appeared as guests on our country music show since The Virginia Opry made its debut in the Historic Stonewall Theatre in October of 1992.”
The Freight Hoppers, frequent guests on Garrison Keillor’s “Prairie Home Companion,” performed on The Virginia Opry along with other famous groups such as The Lonesome River Band, The Farm Hands and The Darrell Webb Band.
“I wish to thank Big Al and the Highlands Media Group for The Virginia Opry’s new home at 103.5 Big Country and for promoting our troupe of performers that has grown to 36 members who make up ten bands that will be performing on The Virginia Opry this year,” Ray noted.
He continued, “Music Is Love” is our theme for The Virginia Opry’s 29th performance season, and that is a tribute to the late Bob Campbell who performed as the lead vocalist at the Bob Campbell and the Coachmen’s concert in 1994, a concert that set the attendance record at the Historic Stonewall Theatre when 510 patrons purchased tickets.”
AAA owned the Historic Stonewall Theatre from 1991 till 2003. Ray added, “I persuaded our board of directors to donate the Historic Stonewall Theatre to the Town of Clifton Forge, and the Town saw fit to rename the theatre, The Historic Masonic Theatre where The Virginia Opry currently performs quarterly shows.”
Tickets are $14 for balcony seating, $16 for auditorium seating beneath the balcony, $18 for seating from the auditorium’s front row back to the balcony façade and $20 for box seats. Tickets purchased prior to the day of the show will be discounted $2 per ticket. The box office number for The Historic Masonic Theatre is (540) 862-5655. Also, tickets may be purchased online at www.historicmasonictheatre.com, or by visiting the box office at 510 Main Street in Clifton Forge between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.