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BUZZ produces “Friends of the Blue Ridge JAM” for PBS 1024 1024 Michael Hemphill

BUZZ produces “Friends of the Blue Ridge JAM” for PBS

As originally broadcast May 1, 2021, on Blue Ridge PBS …

“Friends of the Blue Ridge JAM” is a special hour-long concert by the Junior Appalachian Musicians, Inc. (JAM), hosted by Friends of the Blue Ridge. This collaboration celebrates cultural arts along the Blue Ridge Parkway, focusing on how musical traditions are being passed along to the next generation through community JAM programs. The show is produced by BUZZ.

This collaboration celebrates cultural arts along the Blue Ridge Parkway, focusing on how musical traditions are being passed along to the next generation through community JAM programs. The show is produced by BUZZ.

The episode features five young musicians ages 11 to 17 who have gained great interest and talent in old time and bluegrass music by participating in JAM programs. The segment will feature a mix of old-time and bluegrass music as well as interviews and information about the important missions of Friends of the Blue Ridge and JAM.

This performing group has graced stages at FloydFest, Merlefest, HoustonFest, Knoxville’s WDVX Blue Plate Special, and the West Virginia Strawberry Festival. 

Sophia Puckett, 17, of Galax, Va., is a singer, clawhammer banjo, mandolin, and accordion player who has already evolved from JAM student to JAM teacher in less than ten years. “This experience has taught me how to reach out to kids and get them to want to learn about the music,” said Sophia about her recent transition from student to teacher. 

Logan Thompson, 14, of Glade Spring, Va., got his musical start in the two JAM programs serving Washington County and Smyth County. A multi-instrumentalist, as well, Logan plays upright bass and clawhammer banjo in a way that feels more like generations of experience, rather than only a few short years. 

To demonstrate the powerful impact place-based education can have on students, Savannah Hodges of Wytheville, Va., joined the cast. At age 11, she has only been playing fiddle for a few months, but music “runs in her family” back to her great grandfather, James Lindsey. Savannah will be participating in the Wythe County JAM program next school year. 

Graydon Shepherd, 12, of West Jefferson, N.C., has been playing the fiddle in the Ashe JAM program since third grade. Much of his fiddle repertoire is local to Ashe and Grayson musical history – an area that is known for being a hotbed of musicians. He cited one of his favorite songs to be, “Sugar Hill”, a tune that is heard commonly at local fiddlers conventions and jam sessions. 

Karlee Hamm, 13, of Lansing, N.C., also participates in Ashe JAM, where she has learned how to play guitar and sing from local teaching artists. Karlee has been winning prizes in youth contests since a young age, and enjoys performing with the New River JAM Band, of which Logan and Sophia are also members.