Edwards clan on stage Friday

Published 12:12 pm Wednesday, August 24, 2016

By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

The Nelson Edwards band returns to The Smithfield Times concert stage Friday in an encore appearance first performed 30 years ago.

This time, the band not only includes patriarch Nelson Edwards and his sons, Steven and Joseph, but also a large crew of musicians plucking and tapping an eclectic mix of instruments — from an auto harp to a trash can base. In addition to Nelson’s granddaughter Emily and cousin Gerald Gwaltney, the band includes children and adults in the music program at Mill Swamp Indian Horses in Smithfield.

Steve takes the lead on the bouzouki with a medley of old time, Carter family-era and gospel-flavored Americana music. The rest of the band joins in with Pam John on the auto harp, Jen Hill on base, Joseph, Gwaltney and Abigail McGrath on the fiddle, Nelson on the guitar, Emily on the mandolin, Chris Caven on the trash can base, Jesse McGrath on the bodhrun, Sarah Kerr-Applewhite on the guitar, Lloyd George on the banjo, Joyah George on the ukulele, Mary E. Tyler on the harmonica, recorder and mandolin and Elise Gibson on the three-string banjo. {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

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The array of instruments gives the music depth, which is performed without a written score.

“I just watch Steve’s face,” said Gwaltney on what direction to take with his fiddle.

The group practices together every Monday, and many of the players just learned their instruments.

The music dates back to the 1920-30s, and is interspersed with a few original songs, such as the story of the Shirley Winnegan, which ended with the burning of three local churches.

To prevent a spoiler, the story won’t be described other than “I’s not meant to be a comfortable song,” said Steve, who wrote the song and also serves as assistant commonwealth’s attorney for Isle of Wight County.

The concert begins at 8 p.m., Friday, Aug. 26 in downtown Smithfield. Bring a chair for added comfort.

Next up is the 60s beach music sensation, the Tams, on Friday, Sept. 2.  The concert requires a free ticket due to limited seating, but all 400 tickets have been issued.

The Smithfield Times is asking those who have tickets, but will not be attending to return the tickets to the office, located at 228 Main St. Those who want to attend, but do not have a ticket are asked to call 357-3288 to add their name and phone number to a waiting list. Any tickets returned prior to the concert will be reissued to those on the waiting list in the order the list was compiled.  {/mprestriction}