Every so often, an unexpected event occurs that really brightens a day. Such a happening occurred when my wife Esther and I stopped by the Orchards at Alta pass at mile marker 328 on the Blue Ridge Parkway in Western North Carolina on a beautiful mountain day. We had read about bluegrass music being performed by the Coachman Family so we decided to check it out. Little did we know we were to be treated to a most entertaining three and a half hour show! In the middle of a 200 year old apple orchid.
The first hour featured Dr. John Coachman Jr., a college physics professor at App State and an expert fiddler. He played with his wife and two teenage daughters who were national yodeling champions as well as very good, fiddlers, loggers and singers! Dr. John gives free violin lessons during the summer and had about 10 of his "students" perform. These kids, almost all teenage girls, were great!
The second session featured the 4 Coachman brothers, including John Jr. Ben is a national champion banjo player, Billy is national flat pick guitar champion, and David is a champion base fiddle player. Now these guys can play some bluegrass!! And they all sing! Wow, nonstop for over an hour!! Incredible!!! Many locals got on the dance floor to clog and the building was rocking, literally!
The last hour featured the entire family, all of the above plus father John (guitar), sister Caroline (singer), Caroline's son Samuel (age 14 and excellent guitar player), James' son (aged 13 and even better guitar player, and charmer), and several other youngsters.
Ever wonder if musical ability runs in the family? It does in this family!!
Best part? It was a free concert, sponsored by the nonprofit Altapass Foundation, dedicated to preserving the Appalachian way of life. Donations were requested and freely given. www.altapassorchid.org.
CEO, C.T. Lowndes & Company