I know I am biased when it comes to my passion for the Purple Fiddle, because it is my life. I am the first to acknowledged that I am blessed to be able to follow my bliss – in this case my love of live music and my admiration of professional musicians who brave the wear of the road to pursue their art.
But I don’t believe the bias overplays the understanding that the Purple Fiddle is of great benefit to the community – the whole community. What we do for the average man, woman and yes, the youth, of this area is enormous, and is worth saving. We are a scarce and dying breed.
Where else are young adults and children of all ages encouraged to come and see music from all parts of the nation and the world in an up-close, intimate and safe setting? With a particular focus on Appalachian music? We have always welcomed everyone, and anyone who says otherwise is misinformed and does not know us. My only conclusion is that some people have fears of things deemed different, but only because they have not experienced it for themselves.
I was born and bred a Mountaineer, a West Virginian, all my life and I am forever proud of that. I have never lived anywhere else, aside from a two year stint in graduate school in Ohio. So yes, I take it personally when a person accuses the Purple Fiddle of being of outsiders, and for outsiders. It simply is not true. I am personally hurt by such hateful talk. Why does it affect me so much? Because I am a proud West Virginian.
West Virginians have often gotten a bad rap from the rest of society. That is why I am so devoted to the Purple Fiddle and the image it reflects on this state. I am on a my own crusade, however meager, to help eliminate negative images of my home state. I believe, in whatever small way, that the Purple Fiddle works to undo nasty WV stereotypes. I take personal offense to all “hillbilly” stereotypes, and I try to do my part to reverse this image. I believe, and many thousands more believe, that The Purple Fiddle is WV at it’s best, and we are here for people of all walks of life to enjoy and participate in. I fail to see how this is bad for anyone. Especially the kids.
year-old son was born and raised at the Purple Fiddle in Thomas. The music and people here have had a profound and wonderful influence on his life and he will always carry that with him. I encourage all parents to share the amazing live music, and the overwhelming sense of community we have here, with their children. That is why all children under 12 have always gotten free admission to shows. And I understand that not all adults can afford a cover charge often (a fee that goes to pay for the traveling professional musicians). Quite frankly, neither can I. It has been a tough few years for everyone. That is why we do free shows on a weekly basis now, so as to not leave anyone out.
Is there more we can do for this community? Well, the answer is always yes. Of course.
I would like to see a musically creative youth, perhaps from Tucker County High School, volunteer to host a youth-oriented open mic at the Purple Fiddle. We could offer our sound equipment, and maybe even round up a few instruments to encourage youthful artists to develop their musical talents. The talent is there, and with the encouragement of local music teachers, there is no reason why it wouldn’t work.
Another way we wish to help the area youth is through jobs. Every year we go to the Tucker High School career fair to let area youth know that we desire to hire them. I hear there is a new counselor at the school – so it is time I have a talk with that person about job opportunities for the local youth.
In addition, we have several bands that visit us that have a childrens CD, and would love to perform all their kids songs for the local youth. I am sure we can find a way to fund such a performance at the schools. It is something I have put on the back-burner for too long.
The Purple Fiddle strives to be an outstanding community member. I believe we have been. Anyone who thinks otherwise, I would like to have a frank discussion about why this may be. I invite you down to talk one-on-one with me or my staff. I am betting you will ultimately see otherwise. If you are a first-timer – come see a show, and let me or the door person know. Your cover charge is on us.
John Bright -Purple Fiddle owner – WV native -Stereotype avenger
PS – watch the Grammy Awards Sunday night – Purple Fiddle favorite act, the Avett Brothers, are performing!!