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Appalachian Celtic music celebration to be held at the Cultural Center March 10


The West Virginia Division of Culture and History and the Friends of Old Time Music and Dance (FOOTMAD) will present an early St. Patrick’s Day festivity on Saturday, March 10, at 8 p.m. in the West Virginia State Theater of the Cultural Center, State Capitol Complex in Charleston. The free Appalachian Celtic Celebration is open to the public on a first-come, first-seated basis.

The concert will feature the talent of two West Virginia bands, Mountain Thyme and Poteen, as well as Celtic dance numbers performed by Hanna Thurman. The groups will play individually and together, with Thurman joining in on select songs. This collaborative concert is a debut joint performance for Mountain Thyme and Poteen.

Mountain Thyme’s music features traditional jigs, reels, hornpipes, waltzes, original compositions, multi-layered vocal harmonies and unaccompanied singing. Their songs encompass rousing accounts of romantic escapades, tales of trial and challenge, historical sagas, stories of personal experience and place, and amusing expressions of everyday life and events. Band members include Libby Musser of Liberty on bass, piano and vocals; Peggy Longwell of Roane County on mandolin, guitar and vocals; Jan Hartstein of South Charleston on silver and wooden flutes and vocals; and Pam Curry of Sissonville on bouzouki, autoharp and vocals.

Formed in 1983, Mountain Thyme’s first public performance was at Sunrise Museum for the Irish Silver Exhibit. Since then, the band has performed throughout the state and surrounding region. In 1999, the group traveled to Ireland and Scotland to become better acquainted with Celtic music and culture first hand and will perform several songs learned on that trip.

The Poteen band got its start in 1978 under the leadership of legendary Roane County musician Frank George and his wife Jane. The Georges tutored the group in the old-time style of music, gradually progressing to a Celtic sound. Group members describe their music as Appal-Irish, indicating their personal Appalachian heritage’s influence on the Celtic sound.

Each of the musicians brings an individual contribution to the band. Dr. Tim Pence of Union leads his share of sets playing fiddle, bouzouki and cittern; Don Dransfield of Union handles the Irish bag pipes, Highland bag pipes, whistles, guitar and vocals; Tim Payton of Mt. Lookout plays rhythm guitar and is lead singer; and Elizabeth Destiny of Union plays keyboards and the Irish drum, known as the bodhran.

Members of Poteen also have traveled to Ireland to broaden their knowledge and skill in Celtic music. The band has traveled throughout the mid-Atlantic region and often is featured at such festivals as the annual Vandalia Gathering and the Stonewall Jackson Jubilee.

Hanna Thurman of Liberty, a freshman at Marshall University, has been involved in Celtic dancing since she was in grade school. She has danced throughout the region with several of West Virginia’s Celtic bands including Mountain Thyme, Poteen and Shenanigans, and is a featured performer at the Vandalia Gathering.

For more information about the early St. Patrick’s Day festivity, Appalachian Celtic Celebration, call (304) 558-0220.

The West Virginia Division of Culture and History, an agency of the West Virginia Department of Education and the Arts, brings together the state’s past, present and future through programs and services in the areas of archives and history, the arts, historic preservation and museums. The Cultural Center is West Virginia’s official showcase for the arts. Visit the Division’s website at for more information about programs of the Division. The Division of Culture and History is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.

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