Traditional music series kicks off with concert by Queen Family

The 2019-20 season of the First Thursday Old-Time and Bluegrass Series at Western Carolina University will get underway Thursday, Oct. 3, with a concert featuring the Queen Family of Jackson County’s Caney Fork community.

Jeanette Queen performs with other members of the Queen Family band at Mountain Heritage Day.

The family’s 7 p.m. performance and the open jam session that follows will be held at the headquarters for Homebase College Ministry, located on the east side of the WCU campus at 83 Central Drive.

Representing a long line of pickers and singers, the Queen Family for many years included family matriarch Mary Jane Queen, a ballad singer who was recipient of the North Carolina Folk Heritage Award and the National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship. Even though she has passed on, the family continues to perform traditional mountain music for local events such as WCU’s Mountain Heritage Day festival.

Sponsored by WCU’s Mountain Heritage Center, the First Thursday concerts and jam sessions will continue through next spring, with programs from 7 to 9 p.m. on the first Thursday of each month. The next concert coming up on Nov. 7 will feature the Pressley Girls.

The events are free and open to the public. Pickers and singers of all ages and experience levels are invited to take part in the jam sessions, which also are open to those who just want to listen.

For more information, call the Mountain Heritage Center at 828-227-7129 or visit mhc.wcu.edu.