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Virginia Tech helps bring bluegrass music to a new generation

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At the Reynolds Homestead in Patrick County, Virginia Tech helps bring bluegrass music to a new generation via a concert series.
[00:00:01] >> Bluegrass music has been around since the middle of the last century with the first multiday bluegrass festival held in Fincastle Virginia in 1965. But its longevity won't guarantee its survival, experts say. Musician Kinney Rorrer hosted the radio program Back to the Blue Ridge on WVTF for 16 years before the show ended in 2017. [00:00:29] If you don't get the young people involved, it won't survive. It will become like an inverted pyramid, it will be mostly older folks like myself. Enter the Reynolds Homestead, a sprawling mountainous property in Critz, Virginia, once key to the history of tobacco cultivation. The Patrick County site is where Virginia Tech carries out forestry research and also runs a Culture and Education Center. [00:00:54] Thanks to a six year old American Music concert series, and the work of more than half a dozen volunteers, bluegrass bands are connecting with new audiences. Mary Jo Leet is one of those volunteers. She and her husband moved to the area because of the music. This is front-porch music and back-porch music and homemade music. [00:01:16] The music is part of the culture here. Recent concerts have featured family bands such as the Comptons and the Hutchens and also child prodigy Carson Peters and Iron Mountain from Piney Flats, Tennessee, who played the Grand Ole Opry with Ricky Skaggs when he was 10 years old. One of the ways to keep this music alive is to have young people play it so then other young people say hey I like that I'd like to play that I'd like to play guitar or mandolin or banjo or fiddle, and so it inspires them. [00:01:55] The concerts take place throughout the year except during the dead of winter and a local radio station replays them a week after they're performed live. One-Two-Three-Four. We do have a lot of families in Patrick County that have passed down the music tradition and that is continuing to happen. [00:02:17] The concerts, some held on the Homestead property and others at nearby Fairy Stone State Park, draw audiences from around the world. Giving the music a venue, as the Reynolds Homestead does, exposing it to a wider audience too and giving musicians a chance to kind of exhibit their wares of what they can do, show folks what they can do and it's nice to make some gas money for it as well. [00:02:46] For Outreach and International Affairs, this is Andrea Brunais, reporting.