Picker Wins Top Prize

Bluegrass musician Steven Moore, 21, of Bethesda has “picked” his way to another banjo-playing prize.

Moore captured top honors in the annual Merle Watson bluegrass banjo contest Thursday, April 28, at MerleFest, a music festival held on the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, N.C. As noted in the Grapevine on April 7, Moore won the banjo contest at the RenoFest bluegrass festival in Hartsville, S.C., earlier in the season.

An announcement on the MerleFest website stated that before Moore could claim first prize in the more recent contest, “he had to do something no other competitor ever had to attempt: play a fifth and final number, accompanied by a masked guitarist, and a singer whose face was hidden from him and the audience! It was a unique conclusion to an exciting competition that featured banjo pickers from several states.”

After competing in an initial round with 11 other performers, Moore was chosen as one of three finalists. Because of “an inadvertent error made in Moore’s performance” in the second round, the judges decided to have him perform the instrumental duet again. However, singer Laura Boosinger – whom the banjo player was to accompany – had already left the venue. The judges then devised the unusual challenge for Moore’s final performance.

According to the website, after Moore played “a crowd-pleasing rendition” of “Lonesome Road Blues,” the judges awarded the first prize to the Bethesda banjo player. Moore is a member of two bands: Almost Famous and Steven Moore & Friends. Both groups are popular with area audiences.

  • ??

Congratulations also are extended to three Wheeling natives who have been selected for induction in the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame: Grammy-winning bluegrass, country and folk artist Tim O’Brien; actor, singer and game show host Peter Marshall and the late Eleanor Steber, a star soprano with the Metropolitan Opera.

O’Brien and Steber are already members of the Wheeling Hall of Fame. Unfortunately, Marshall didn’t live in Wheeling long enough to meet the local hall’s residency requirements.

  • ??

The May-June issue of American Spirit, the national magazine of the Daughters of the American Revolution, features an article about West Virginia’s formation and this year’s sesquicentennial celebration of statehood.

The magazine’s list of activities planned for the 150th anniversary gives top billing to events scheduled at West Virginia Independence Hall in Wheeling on Thursday, June 20, the state’s birthday. The next page has brief listings for events in other West Virginia locations.

  • ??

Meanwhile, Wheeling’s observance of the 150th anniversary of the state’s formation was the featured cover story in the travel section of the Columbus Dispatch newspaper Sunday, April 7.

The article, by Dispatch staff writer Steve Stephens, was illustrated with photographs of the Wheeling waterfront, the exterior and the courtroom of West Virginia Independence Hall and the Wheeling Artisan Center. The headline for the article offered a clever turn of phrase, “Birth of a notion,” with a subhead stating, “Independence Hall in Wheeling explains the idea behind West Virginia’s founding.”

Stephens wrote, “The engrossing story of West Virginia statehood is told at Wheeling’s Independence Hall, an easy trip from Columbus. And 2013, which marks the 150th anniversary of our neighbor’s statehood, is a great time to make the journey.”

The article continued, “In a downtown filled with interesting and historic architecture in various states of repair, the carefully restored Independence Hall is inarguably a gem.”

After relating details of the statehood movement, the reporter described the permanent exhibits on display at WVIH. Stephens concluded, “Visitors can also tour an impressive display of Civil War battle flags. The flags were carried into combat by local units, including a West Virginia regiment that served in a brigade led by Ohioans and future presidents Rutherford B. Hayes and William McKinley – a nice reminder of the close ties between Buckeyes and Mountaineers.”

Linda Comins can be reached via email at: lcomins@theintelligencer. net