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Concert offers tour of bluegrass music

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    The Homerville All String Band performs songs that span the evolution of bluegrass music during a concert Sunday at Wadsworth Public Library. From left, Randy Fraley, Scott Hennis, Richard Capiccioni and Mike Todd.

    NATHAN HAVENNER / GAZETTE

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    About 70 people attend a Sunday concert by The Homerville All String Band at Wadsworth Public Library. The event was part of a concert series presented by Ohio Regional Music, Arts and Cultural Outreach.

    NATHAN HAVENNER / GAZETTE

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WADSWORTH — The Homerville All String Band sang about mountain love, coal mining and an old fox on the run during a Sunday performance showcasing the evolution of bluegrass music.

Made up of Mike Todd on guitar, Scott Hennis on mandolin, Randy Fraley on bass and Richard Capiccioni on acoustic guitar, the group played tunes that spanned 100 years of mountain music history.

“Music that originally was called hillbilly music would come to be called bluegrass, originated on the front porches and the one room in the cabin on a Saturday night,” Capiccioni said.

The music traces its origins to the Scots-Irish, who brought some of the instruments, song structures and themes with them before settling in the isolated mountains of Appalachia, Capiccioni said.

“The first time anybody heard a recording of this was probably when the Carter Family collected some tunes and made some recordings back in the 1920s,” he said.

The first song the band played was “Georgia Rose,” written by Bill Monroe.

Throughout the hourlong concert, band members explained the history behind each song they were preparing to play.

Capiccioni said some of the first groups to perform these tunes were family bands that included the Carter Family, The Louvin Brothers and brothers Bill and Charlie Monroe.

“It wasn’t until the mid- to late 1940s that Bill Monroe kind of separated from his brother Charlie and hired a young banjo player named Earl Scruggs, who had a very dynamic and energetic style of playing,” Capiccioni said. “They didn’t catch on immediately, but after a few years the music became known as bluegrass.”

Capiccioni said over the years, bluegrass has continued to feature standard instrumentation, but some bluegrass has evolved to include more refined singing and a more urban sound.

Hennis provided the history of two songs, “Fox on the Run” and “Wabash Cannonball.”

“This is probably the oldest song we’re going to do, written in 1882, and it was originally titled ‘The Great Rock Island Route,’” he said of “Wabash Cannonball.”

“Fox on the Run” was a later addition to the genre, and wasn’t recorded until 1968 by the British rock band Manfred Mann.

“By now, people were looking for anything they could do with this instrumentation,” Hennis said. “This comes from outside the bluegrass tradition, but it’s become a standard.”

The band closed the show with “I’ll Fly Away,” written in 1929.

The concert was presented by the nonprofit Ohio Regional Music, Arts and Cultural Outreach as part of a Sunday afternoon concert series at the library.

ORMACO Executive Director Thomas Sigel said the next concert in the series, featuring Zach Friedhof, will be 2 p.m. July 8.

Contact reporter Nathan Havenner at (330) 721-4050 or nhavenner@medina-gazette.com.

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