Tag Archives: southern wv

Beckley Band Seeks West Virginia’s Sound

Beckley Band Seeks West Virginia’s Sound
Article by Miranda Woody

Heavy Set Paw-Paws, an alternative band from Beckley, West Virginia, was formed in 2011 by musician David Gravely and vocalist Tyler Evans. According to Gravely, the band’s name “began as a joke, and then it just stuck.” Gravely and Evans had been playing music together for many years prior to the formation of Heavy Set Paw-Paws, playing in various bands with one another and some of their college friends. After their college years came to an end, though, the band mates all parted ways – except for Gravely and Evans. Although Evans moved to France for a period of time, he and Gravely recorded an album with one another before Evans’s departure. Their first album was released in 2013, and they released their sophomore album in 2015. Although the band began with only Gravely and Evans, their lineup has expanded and decreased with the passing years. Other members (some current and some former) of Heavy Set Paw-Paws include Drew Bsharah, Kati Grimmet, and Chris Oxley. Heavy Set Paw-Paws are known for their original music, along with the occasional cover. In fact, after David Bowie’s passing in 2016, the band put on a live production of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust, featuring every track on the entire album. Gravely tells me, “We did the entire Ziggy Stardust record in order – it was great. We did the whole thing live at Sir Walter’s Tavern in Beckley.” Although this is an interesting

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Mountain Musical Makes Waves in Southern West Virginia

Mountain Musical Makes Waves in Southern West Virginia
Article by Miranda Woody

Southern West Virginia has hit hard times in recent years, and FRACK!! The Mountain Music Comedy Spectacular plays up the absurdity of the current fossil fuel-heavy climate in Beckley, West Virginia. The musical, I’m told, is not overtly political in nature, nor does it lean heavily toward one political opinion or another; rather, FRACK!! is simply a musical satire seeking to make a statement and, more importantly, to make people laugh.
FRACK!! The Mountain Music Comedy Spectacular was written by J.C. Lacek. Lacek, a playwright originally from West Virginia who is currently living in California, conceptualized the idea along with Jeremiah Scarborough, a West Virginia musician who is also living in California now. Along with being a playwright, Lacek is a published author with Scout Comics. Jason Lockart, the play’s orchestral conductor and CEO of Kid in the Background Inc. (who is producing the play and its accompanying soundtrack) tells me, “The general idea came out of some pretty dark subject matter. Somehow, we started joking around about doing a musical and then FRACK!! was born. Without giving too much away, I can say this: it’s just hilarious. It’s very absurd, almost cartoonish in nature, and it’s essentially a satire centered around fracking. That drives the plot, and the characters themselves are so absurd. It’s great.”
The musical focuses on a man named Jim, played by Zach Bolon, who has fallen on hard times in his hometown of Beckley, West Virginia. Jim,

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Broadway Comes to Lewisburg, West Virginia

Broadway Comes to Lewisburg, West Virginia
Article by Miranda Woody

Actors Kenneth Derby, Kassandra Haddock, and Chelsea Amoroso prepare for the debut of Pippin at The Greenbrier Valley Theatre.
I walk into a small room, black curtains enveloping it, the sound of a piano ringing clearly throughout the space. A company of professional actors begin a dance number, and an actress begins to sing. This is the scene I’m presented with while visiting The Greenbrier Valley Theatre in Lewisburg, West Virginia, as the company prepares for their late-May debut of Pippin.
Donald Laney leads choreography as I sit and spectate in the corner, taking in the immense amount of preparation and careful planning that goes into choreographing and blocking a scene in a musical. The floor is numbered with tape as the actors imagine the scene before them; the director tells me that the set, once it’s finished, will have multiple levels and dynamics that the actors must learn to work with here in a flat, small rehearsal space. The actors are used to this kind of thing, and they work through the issues with a fair amount of imagination and flexibility. As I gaze on, Laney suddenly tells the actors to strike three poses, completely improvisational, one after another. I watch as the myriad of performers strike flawless poses and flex their impressive, professional dance moves. Laney moves on, working with a female member of the ensemble, tweaking her pose a bit, and his sense of humor comes through; as he instructs the

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Forget Screen Time: Let’s Go Climb!

Forget Screen Time: Let’s Go Climb!
Article by Miranda Woody

A climber takes on one of the many walls at Outside-In Climbing Gym
Nestled neatly between two residences on busy Harper Road in Beckley, West Virginia, Outside-In Climbing Gym holds adventure and fun for people of all ages and abilities. Whether you have been to the summit of Yosemite or barely climbed a tree, this place has something for you. Kevin Traube, the owner of Outside-In Climbing Gym, has owned the business for thirty years. Kevin has always sought new and innovative ways to create fun, family experiences in his hometown of Beckley, West Virginia. The locally-owned business began as a small gift shop (The Little Brickhouse), and has evolved over the years into a golf course (Mountain State Mini Golf), a coffee shop and roastery (The Chocolate Moose), and now it also contains Outside-In Climbing Gym. Although the gift shop is officially a thing of the past, customers can still enjoy a game of mini-golf and some delicious coffee along with rock climbing and other activities during their visit.
Personally, my experience with Outside-In Climbing Gym has been very positive. I was hired there about a year ago as a belay attendant in the climbing gym and barista in the coffee shop. My experience with the customers in the gym, specifically, has been one of a kind and my experience with my coworkers is also something very special. Featuring multiple thirty-five foot high climbing walls, a rappelling station, an elevated slackline, and two climbing

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Craft Beer and Blues Tunes at Concord University

Craft Beer and Blues Tunes at Concord University
Article by Miranda Woody

The college experience can be quite quiet when you attend a smaller university. However, Concord University has decided to get loud with their third annual Blues Brews and BBQ festival. This year, Blues Brews and BBQ will feature performances from The Allen Smith Band (named for Concord’s very own Allen Smith); Tazewell County teacher Victor Lawson; Trailer Swift & The Bolt Mountain Boys (also featuring some Concord alumni and employees); and the event’s headliner, The Tommy Cox Band. Along with some great blues tunes, West Virginia’s very own Greenbrier Valley Brewing will be serving up some Devil Anse IPA in cans and bottles. A few other craft beers will be featured, mainly sourced from Virginia and North Carolina. Pulled pork barbecue sandwiches and sides will also be served, fulfilling the event’s “BBQ” component. The event is free to anyone who wishes to attend, but food and beverages must be purchased on site.
Blues Brews and BBQ kicked off three years ago thanks to the careful planning and guidance of Concord University’s student activities planner, Andrew Sulgit. Sulgit was seeking to host an event that would be entertaining for students, staff, and the surrounding community. Essentially, Sulgit wanted to host an event that would surely become a staple on Concord’s close-knit campus, drawing attention to the small school for its friendly vibe and laid-back atmosphere. When asked about the general feel of Blues Brews and BBQ,  Sulgit says, “We have a great cross-representation

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Acting in Appalachia: There’s a Place I Belong

Acting in Appalachia: There’s a Place I Belong
Article by Miranda Woody

“I hate it when the phone rings after eleven. It’s usually bad news. But I answered it and it was my daughter. She said, ‘he’s Humperdinck!’ I’d never seen The Princess Bride. I had no idea what she was talking about.” – Michael Martin, on meeting Chris Sarandon.
Michael smiles as he tells me this story, chuckling and taking sips of coffee between segments. His precisely styled silver hair and clear speaking voice are indicative of his professionalism, and he has the resume to back it up. Throughout his larger-than-life career as an actor he has worked with Jodi Foster in Silence of the Lambs, George C. Scott in Coal Miner’s Granddaughter, Chris Cooper in Matewan, and many more. Michael Martin is a SAG-AFTRA actor, known by his stage name “Michael Meredith”, and his life has been one wild ride after another.
Michael Meredith Martin was born and raised in the small town of Mount Hope, West Virginia. He would go on to be the mayor of Mount Hope later in life, but before all that Michael would tour the California coast during the hippie age, hang out at the infamous 1969 Woodstock festival, live in both D.C. and New York City (making his living entirely as a working actor), develop his own Mark Twain inspired one-man show (and tour across the country with it, no less), go to the Academy Awards in Los Angeles with his grandson, and so on. Michael

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