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Home Craft Days Opening Night Concert
Elizabeth LaPrelle and the Family Band
Martha Spencer and the Wonderland Band
Tommy Bledsoe, Rich Kirby, Todd Meade, & Tyler Hughes


Friday, October 20th, 2023

6:00 p.m.

Goodloe Center

Mountain Empire Community College

3441 Mountain Empire Rd, Big Stone Gap, VA 24219


Free and open to the public!

The 52nd Home Craft Days festival kicks off with the annual Opening Night Concert featuring Elizabeth LaPrelle and the Family Band, Martha Spencer and the Wonderland Band, and annual favorites Tommy Bledsoe, Rich Kirby, Todd Meade, and Tyler Hughes.

Elizabeth LaPrelle is exceptional in her devotion to and mastery of the ancient and deep art of Appalachian unaccompanied singing. She performs with a sense of conviction, honesty, and emotional force that evokes the great Appalachian ballad-singers of generations past. Elizabeth’s voice, stark and unaccompanied, can lift and carry the listener away to another time.


Raised in Rural Retreat, Virginia, Elizabeth grew up in a home where there was always singing, and a community with many fine old-time musicians. She has developed her repertoire from neighbors like Jim Lloyd, under the tutelage of powerful female ballad singers Ginny Hawker and Sheila Kay Adams, and from a wealth of field recordings of legendary singers from the mountains.

Elizabeth has performed at festivals and concerts all over the country; toured on the East and West coasts as part of the National Council for the Traditional Arts (NCTA) Music from the Crooked Road project; won prizes at countless Fiddler’s Conventions. She was a guest on Garrison Kielor’s A Prairie Home Companion in 2005. Elizabeth has been a guest speaker and performer for college classes, and taught workshops at Centrum in Port Townsend, WA, and the Augusta Heritage Center in Elkins, WV.

Martha Spencer is a singer-songwriter, mountain musician and dancer from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. She grew up in the musical Spencer family and learned to play several instruments (guitar, fiddle, banjo, bass, dulcimer, mandolin) and flatfoot/clog at a young age. She performs and has recorded with various groups and has been involved with several roots music projects. She has played shows, festivals and led workshops across the US, Australia, UK, Canada, and Europe. Martha’s first solo album 2018 and latest release “Wonderland” in 2022 have been featured in articles in Rolling Stone Country, No Depression, Holler, Wide Open Country, Bluegrass Situation, Americana Highways, PopMatters and more. She also has been included in articles in the NY Times, Austin Chronicle and Billboard and was a part of the Fiddlin’ documentary movie.

Tommy Bledsoe, Rich Kirby, Todd Meade, and Tyler Hughes will open Friday night’s concert. Tommy Bledsoe and Rich Kirby have extensive roots in Southwest Virginia’s old time music. The two have been instrumental in organizing music for Home Craft Days for over 40 years. Combined, the four represent over fifty years’ experience with the region’s music and its tradition bearers like Janette Carter, Uncle Charlie Osborne, and Ralph Stanley. 


The 2023 Home Craft Days celebration will be held October 20-22 on the campus of Mountain Empire Community College. Saturday and Sunday will feature performances every hour on two stages. Enjoy the food, fun, and friendship of Southwest Virginia and come home to the Home Craft Days festival. Find more information and the schedule of events at

Pro-Art partners with a variety of venues, therefore individuals with mobility issues or general questions are encouraged to call (276) 376-4520 or email the Pro-Art office at For evolving conditions related to weather cancellations, or similar unforeseen circumstances, patrons are encouraged to check for up-to-date information. 


Pro-Art is supported in part by the Virginia Commission for the Arts, which receives support from the Virginia General Assembly and the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as the C. Bascom Slemp Foundation, The University of Virginia’s College at Wise, Mountain Empire Community College, the Columbus Phipps Foundation, and the Lee County Community Foundation.

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