The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge

The Mountain Heritage Festival

By John W. Stoneberger © 1989

Issue: November, 1989

On July 29 and 30, 1989 at the Skyland Lodge in the Shenandoah National Park, the Six Annual Festival took place. So many of us see these events advertised and know we are scheduled to work then we sigh with regret and think, oh, maybe next time. To those who missed the Festival let me have the pleasure of telling you a little about just one of the entertaining bands.

I would like to think of myself as a genuine mountaineer. I was born on Lewis Mountain July 17, 1924 and grew up in the valley along the Massussutten Mountains at Hemes Run. So I refer to myself as a Hillbilly.

Growing up we traveled the 18 miles from our home in the valley to Lewis Mountain to the home of my grandparents John Scott and Cara Roche, we went part of the way by car, sometimes by horse or mule, and often walked part of the steep mountain. Nevertheless, once we got there it was the joy of our highest expectations.

We, as children, found love in the Mountain at its best: The warm welcome, good food, cold water, restful sleep and fresh air; but best of all the peaceful feeling of being loved and singing and music. Jessie Lam had married Aunt Lona. He played both fiddle and five string banjo. He taught her to play guitar and she became an excellent singer.

The chambers of my heart ring to this day with the echoes of her sweet voice singing. "Bring Back My Blue Eyed Boy To Me," "The Foggy Mountain Top," and "Don't Give Your Heart To A Rambler Little Girl."

There is a legacy of talent that comes from this area of the mountains. For generations past, the name Lam (or Lamb) has the ability to touch the heart to a depth of joy which has never been touched before, with singing in voices and instruments tuned to perfect harmony in major keys.

I would like to confess a question that has passed through my mind. Have all the good times passed and gone since so many of the old time entertainers have gone on? This question soon came to an end as the Page Valley Boys Blue Grass Band came on stage at the Festival with a fine band leader playing bass, Westley Gray on the fiddle, Nelson Ray on the dobro and Grey and Denny Lam singing and playing banjo and guitar.

Tears of joy welled in my eyes as Denny (as lead singer) and Greg harmonizing, sent forth as beautiful a flavor of mountain music as I have ever heard.

The musicians in turn would back up the singers in unison of both rhythm and lead, with Greg Lam using both three finger and claw hammer style on the banjo, for special original mountain tunes like the Lam's have played for generations.

I am glad to say "I am proud of our young generation of singers and musicians who understand their great heritage and legacy of mountain music and have used their talent to entertain with such high quality of music."

I would like to pay a special tribute to the name of Lam who have entertained in the Blue Ridge Mountains for generations with the finest of singing and playing of acoustic instruments and gave us this heritage of Blue Ridge Mountain Music in its finest form.

Author's Note... I would love to see more writers send in articles on our heritage of Mountain music.