Day Trippin: Enjoy vintage vibes at the Old-Time Music, Ozarks Heritage Festival

Vicki Wood
One of the many demonstrators at the festival.

To commemorate Missouri’s bicentennial, MisFolklife traditions are alive and well in West Plains, Missouri on June 5th this year. The Old-Time Music, Ozarks Heritage Festival returns for its 26th year.

What is Old-Time Music?

Think of sitting on the front porch with the grandparents, uncles and aunts, and cousins, the ones that are musical; plunking on the banjo, and drawing the fiddle on a late summer evening.

It’s mountain music, string-band music, and other terms that bring up images of family and friends joining in followed by story telling; a combination of fellowship and entertainment leaving a legacy to pass on to generations.

This year’s musical headliner is The Creek Rocks, on stage at 8 pm, with The Shortleaf Band opening the show at 6pm.  

Throughout the day live music will take place with featured bands as follows:

Alvie & Friends – Experienced string band musicians from south-central and southwest Missouri – Alvie Dooms, , Ashley Hull Forrest, Kim Lansford,  Nathan McAlister, and David Scrivner – will bring an old/new sound to our stage…. Old-time music, new sound from this group that rarely plays together, gathered this year to reinforce the traditions.

Bona Fide String Band – an old-time group based in Hardy, Arkansas. Band members Jeff Kamps, Debbie Kamps, Lisa Culver, and Greg Cox definitely turn back the clock for some old-time string band music and vocals.

Colbert Brothers – Old-time music has been a family tradition for generations for Colbert Brothers Leon, Van, and Vernon, all of whom hail from Willow Springs, Mo. “Mom and Dad instilled in us the love of their music, and to this day we play, sing and remember,” said Van, who is known for his unique “two-finger” roll style on banjo.

McAlister & Lansford – Kim Lansford and Nathan McAlister bring together fiddle, banjo, guitar and vocal harmonies to tell the story of the Ozark hills through song.

Sisco&Alexander – Drawing on their parallel experiences of growing up in musical families in the Ozarks Hills and rural New England, folk gospel singer Mary Alexander joins acclaimed singer-songwriter-storyteller Marideth Sisco, the singer from the Oscar-nominated film “Winter’s Bone,” in a program of stories and songs ranging from the early American frontier to the 1950s – on an American Front Porch.

One More Dollar –There is a sound that brings a region into your thoughts. So unique to its location and inseparable to its culture, it is difficult to name. One More Dollar has that sound and its focus on original and depression-era and earlier music provides an opportunity to build its own sound on the foundation of this difficult name.


Musical workshops are another big part of the festival where one can participate Workshops will be held in the Dogwood Rooms at the West Plains Civic Center.

Noon-1 p.m.   Shortleaf – “FIDDLING” “SO MANY TUNES/SO LITTLE TIMWorkshop will be divided into two sections. The first will be information about fiddling in general and include sources for fiddles, tunes, what to expect from various jam sessions, learning to play by ear, and advantages of open tunings. The remaining time will consist of group discussions about any question regarding playing the fiddle. This workshop is open to all levels of expertise beginning with those who do not play the fiddle but have an interest in getting started.

1-2 p.m.    

Van Colbert – Old-Time Banjo Van will demonstrate old-time clawhammer style as opposed to the five-string picking popularized by bluegrass music. Van’s family band plays what they have lived, created and shared for generations. He studied banjo with Don Buedel and was named a master artist on clawhammer with TAAP-Missouri Folk Arts Program, teaching others to embrace this traditional style.

2-3 p.m.   Duane Porterfield – Mountain Dulcimer

Duane Porterfield will be conducting a Mountain Dulcimer workshop featuring an overview of the history, tunings, and styles of this American folk instrument. Originating with the early settlers in the Appalachians, the mountain dulcimer has echoed its unique voice through hills and valleys, accompanying songs and playing melodies. Duane Porterfield is an award-winning mountain dulcimer player, performer and instructor. He can regularly be seen playing a variety of old-time instruments at the Ozark Folk Center State Park, loitering at the Dulcimer Shoppe or exploring the Ozarks with his wife, Cindi.

3-4 p.m.   David Scrivner and Ashley Hull Forrest –  Ozarks Fiddling

Ashley Hull Forrest and David Scrivner both studied with the legendary Bob Holt through the Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program (TAAP) sponsored by the Missouri Folk Arts Program.

Ozarks fiddling is a broad yet distinct style of fiddling.  Yet this variety in our tradition can make it difficult to determine what is included in Ozarks fiddling and what is not.  This workshop will begin with a discussion of the defining elements of Ozarks fiddling.  It also will include a demonstration of various types of tunes common to Ozarks fiddling, such as square dance tunes, waltzes, two-steps, jigs, rags, and train songs.  

4-5 p.m. – Shortleaf – “YES, YOU CAN PLAY MANDOLIN”

The first half of this workshop will focus on beginning mandolin, and will address such questions as mandolin set-up, types, styles, costs, lessons, learning melody and chords. *

Traditional jig dancing will again be featured at this year’s Old-Time Music, Ozark Heritage Festival in downtown West Plains, Mo. The Bob Holt Old Time Jig Dancing Competition will take place at 2 pm in the Civic Center Exhibit Hall.

A demonstration of mule jumping will be held at 3 pm in the parking lot near the West Plains Senior Center at the corner of East Main and South Curry Streets.

The Annual Pie Competition will include three categories:  fruit pies; other dessert pies; and savory pies.  To enter, bring your pie to the Redbud Room at the West Plains Civic Center on Saturday June 5 between 11:00 and 11:30 a.m.  Judging by a select group of experts begins at noon, with awards announced (and samples offered) at the Cooking Stage at 12:30.

Bucket Brigade competitions will take place at the “firehouse” which will be placed near the Children’s Activities area.  Events are scheduled for noon, 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.

The Old-Time Music, Ozark Heritage Festival is the signature event for West Plains.  The festival seeks to celebrate, preserve, pass on and nurture an appreciation of the old-time music and folk life traditions distinctive to the Ozark Highlands. * The annual Festival in downtown West Plains is free admission.Festival hours are 10 a.m.-9 p.m.

For more information on the festival e-mail, visit the website at, or the Facebook page at