Longtime popular McLains to play bluegrass at the Fold

Contributed To The Press • Updated Jan 5, 2018 at 2:45 PM

On Saturday at 7:30 p.m. the McLain Family Band will celebrate its 50th anniversary in part with a concert of bluegrass music at the Carter Family Fold in Hiltons, Virginia.

Admission to the concert is $10 for adults, $2 for children 6-11, and under age 6, free.

Direct from the hills of Kentucky, the McLain Family Band has become known internationally as one of the most spontaneous, creative and spirited groups performing contemporary Appalachian bluegrass music.

During the years 1968-90, the group performed in all 50 states and 62 countries during 14 international concert tours, some as musical ambassadors of the U.S. Department of State.

In addition to the Fold, they have played the Grand Ole Opry, Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Lincoln Center and been featured at thousands of festivals and concerts, performing as soloists in more than 230 appearances with orchestras.

For eleven years, the band also hosted The McLain Family Band Festival which was featured on NPR’s “Folk Festival USA” and produced by Kentucky Educational TV for national distribution. Other television appearances include NBC’s “Today Show,” “CBS Morning News,” “Good Morning America,” the “Pearl Bailey ETV Special,” the BBC, TNN’s “Nashville Now” and the “Johnny Cash Christmas Special.”

Raymond K. McLain formed the McLain Family Band in 1968 with his son Raymond W. and daughters Ruth and Alice.

He studied folk music at Harvard and later at the University of North Carolina, then went on to develop and teach the first college courses in bluegrass and in Appalachian music at Berea College in 1971.

His mother, Beatrice “Bicky” McLain, was also a significant figure in American folk music, founding the Southern Regional Folk Life Center at the University of Alabama and serving as its first director.

Raymond Sr. was a Carter Family Memorial Music Center board member from the day the center was created. Raymond Jr. now serves on the board of directors and assists as artistic director at the Fold.

As for the rest of the band, Ruth McLain sings, writes and plays upright bass. Alice sings and organizes the group’s harmonies. Her husband Al also plays with the band, along with Daxon Lewis on banjo; Michael and Jennifer McLain, accomplished and multi-talented musicians and teachers; and baby sister Nancy Ann.

Carter Family Memorial Music Center, Inc., is a nonprofit, rural arts organization that was established in 1979 to preserve traditional acoustic mountain music.

Saturday concerts have been held since 1974. The center is family-friendly, and an alcohol- and drug-free facility.

For additional information, go to www.carterfamilyfold.org or www.carterfamilyfold.com; call 276-386-6054 or 276-594-0676; or visit the Carter Family Fold on Facebook or Twitter.

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