Four neighbors joined together this past winter on a cold evening to play some music for entertainment. Not knowing what they would sound like, they brought their instruments together and played some old-fashioned mountain music. The outcome was not what they expected.
The Elm Street Alleycats consist of Walter King, 13, on fiddle, Nevada Tribble, 13, on banjo, her brother, Riley Tribble, 11, on mandolin, and Gene Boyer on bass.
Boyer retired from North Carolina as a college teacher and moved to Elkins this past fall. The Tribble family moved to Elkins a few years ago from Nevada. King's family is originally from Georgia and has lived in Elkins the longest.
The Elm Street Alleycats will perform at El Gran Sabor at 7 p.m. today. The group consists of, from left, Nevada and Riley Tribble, Gene Boyer and Walter King.
According to Boyer, it was the kids who came up with the name of the band.
"It was one cold wintery evening when we all gathered with friends," Boyer explained. "They suggested to get our instruments and play some tunes. Walter got his fiddle, the Tribbles got their banjo and mandolin and I got my bass. After playing, we realized we were pretty good and decided to start the band."
Boyer said they they all moved to Elkins for the same reason: It's a beautiful and great place to live.
"It's great to have the ability to have music education both in schools and community," Boyer said. "We love the richness of music in the area."
According to Boyer, the band is trying to keep the tradition of the old-time mountain music alive.
"It's great to have children pick up the music and make it their own," stated Boyer. "A few of our songs are originals that Nevada has written. Most are traditional West Virginia fiddle tunes that go back for generations and have been played in the mountains for years."
Boyer said that the children have learned from some excellent musical instructors.
"Walter received fiddle lessons from Jesse Milnes and Andy Fitzgibbon," Boyer said. "Nevada is currently taking banjo lessons from Greta Fitzgibbon while Riley has taken mandolin lessons from Karl Smakula. All three have taken music classes during the Augusta Heritage Workshops at Davis & Elkins College during the summer."
According to Boyer, the West Virginia Maple Syrup Festival in Pickins was their very first gig this year. The Elm Street Alleycats have also played at the Traditional Music Day at Prickett's Fort and at El Gran Sabor in Elkins.
The Elm Street Alleycats will perform at 7 p.m. today at El Gran Sabor and Saturday at the Elkins Farmers Market.