By Lisa A. Green
A former Scott High School graduate gets called back to perform at the largest Bluegrass festival in the world Wednesday, September 14, 2016 at 6pm. The Poppy Mountain Bluegrass Festival is in Morehead, KY September 13-17, 2016 and pulls in a crowd of more than twenty thousand people from across the United States. This year marks the 24th year anniversary of the festival.
In 2015, Ray Wheatley, formerly of Chapmanville, W. Va. got the call to perform at Poppy Mountain on the main stage with his newly formed band at that time, “Ray Wheatley and Changing Times,” and was honored to do so. It is a festival he has attended with his family every year since he was 15 years old. Poppy Mountain is now the largest bluegrass festival in the world.
“Ray Wheatley and Changing Times,” will once again have the honor of performing on the main stage to an audience of bluegrass lovers who flock to this festival to hear the “Mountain Music,” as it was once called, that they love so much. “It is a place where time seems to stand still. Music fills the air and campfires burn in the distance and families reunite,” Patricia Wheatley of Chapmanville, once described. Patricia is Ray Wheatley’s mother and passed away earlier this year. She would often join him on stage wherever he played and sing just one song-The Grundy County Auction. It will be a difficult year for him to perform without her in the audience but, as a family this festival has been a staple vacation spot for close to twenty years. It has been described as a place where stress floats away as you relax and enjoy music made in the mountains not for profits but for the love of a kind of music that has defined the Appalachian way of life.
“There are so many other things there to do that even though my band will be playing Wednesday night, I will be camping there all week. The festival begins on Tuesday, September 13th and runs through Saturday September 17th. If you miss my show, you can find me picking on Jammin Ridge every night,” Wheatley said. “I’d love to see some family and old friends from Boone and Logan Counties in the audience this year,” Wheatley said.
The festival offers the best of the best in bluegrass music and this year is no different. Some of the greatest on this year’s lineup include: Dave Evans and Riverbend, Lonesome River Band, Dave Adkins, Larry Cordle, Marty Raybon, Russell Moore and III Tyme Out, John Anderson, Mo Pitney and of course our very own, Ray Wheatley and Changing Times, just to name a few. A special tribute will be given to Dr. Ralph Stanley and Melvin Goins who were Bluegrass greats that we lost too soon this year.
“I love Poppy Mountain for all kinds of reasons but it has something to offer to everyone. They let you bring your golf carts and four-wheelers and you can put them to good use on the trails that are all over the campground,” Wheatley said. “I’ve played music at a lot of festivals and different places but Poppy Mountain is special. It’s where my dad took me to my first bluegrass festival when I was just 15 years old.”
For more information about the Poppy Mountain Bluegrass Festival and the performance of Ray Wheatley and Changing Times go to www.poppymountainbluegrass.com