Four hundred years ago, people gathered to celebrate the first English Thanksgiving in North America. They did so in Virginia. As the commonwealth marks this anniversary, officials wanted to support a variety of events that highlight aspects of the state’s unique history. One of those key events that got financial support and recognition will take place this weekend in Marion.

Individuals from across the country will gather to celebrate the guitar.

The Wayne C. Henderson School of Appalachian Arts and The Crooked Road: Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail are hosting Guitar Summit 2019: Celebrating the Role of the Guitar in Virginia’s History.

Only 16 events received the $5,000 American Evolution commemoration grants. The Guitar Summit is one of only two in Southwest Virginia that received the funds with the other being New River Trail Days in Pulaski County and Radford.

Catherine Schrenker, the Henderson school’s executive director, reflected, “It’s wonderful to have them recognize how valuable Southwest Virginia is in the history of Virginia.”

The Guitar Summit 2019 at The Henderson will be held on Saturday, Nov. 23, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 24 from 12-3 p.m.

The summit will remember and celebrate the work of two celebrated area musicians who died this year.

On Saturday at noon, summit attendees will dedicate The Gerald Anderson Lutherie in memory of the outstanding luthier from Troutdale. Anderson died in June. The Henderson will also be dedicating its Junior Appalachian Musicians (JAM) room to the memory of Helen White, the founder of JAM. White was celebrated for her passion for helping students embrace their traditional musical heritage.

Sunday's activities will open with a presentation of a recent donation to The Henderson of #35, Wayne Henderson's first walnut guitar. His most recent guitar was #798.

Schrenker believes that attendees and organizers will be able to convince Wayne Henderson to take the guitar from its case and play.

His won’t be the only music resounding through the historic building’s hallways this weekend. The summit will include vocals and instrumentals, fingerpicking and flatpicking, and performances that include guitarists in solo, duo and larger group settings, including an open jam.

“The Summit covers bluegrass, old time, and blues styles,” said Schrenker. “It really shows what the guitar is capable of in the right hands.”

Among the presenters will be Ted Olson, who will discuss the history of the guitar in Southwest Virginia, including a special session on the distinct style of Doc Watson. Jayne Henderson will offer demonstrations of her inlay techniques. Dr. Rene Rodgers of The Birthplace of Country Music Museum will talk about the role of the guitar in the 1927 sessions and beyond.

David Winship, a traditional music historian and educator, will present “Guitars, Old Fords & Hillbilly Music.”

The Guitar Summit will also celebrate The Crooked Road’s two-disc CD, A Century of Heritage Guitar Music. Jonathan Romeo, program manager for The Crooked Road, noted that “The Crooked Road invited guitarists in the region who might not have ever recorded a CD before to sit down and record themselves and send in their recording for consideration. By doing that we were able to capture some amazing guitar playing that very few people have ever heard.”

The original Guitar Summit was organized as a premier for the CD.

 “We’re delighted that many of the guitarists on the CD will be at the summit to perform,” said Schrenker.

The Guitar Summit will feature displays of handmade guitars and other instruments made by area Virginia luthiers. “The instrument making skills in the region are as impressive as the playing,” according to Schrenker.

Several newly crafted guitars will be celebrated as well. This week, Wayne Henderson is leading six students in building their own guitars. Those students, who come from as far away as California and Texas, will take part in the summit.

After the summit, attendees can take in the Dailey and Vincent: Joys of Christmas concert at 7 p.m. at downtown Marion’s Lincoln Theatre. A second concert by Jamie Dailey & Darrin Vincent will be presented on Sunday at 3 p.m. The Summit has arranged its agenda so that people can attend the concerts that feature a blend of American music -- bluegrass, traditional country and gospel music.

“This will be a great day of music in Marion, and we hope folks will take full advantage of it,” said Schrenker, who noted that the summit will also feature local crafts people and artisans who offer guitar-related items.

Advance ticket pricing for The Guitar Summit 2019 at The Henderson is:

Adult One Day: $35;

Adult Two Day: $50;

JAM Family Two Day: $75;

Kids One Day: $10.

Advance tickets are available online at

Tickets will be also be available at the door but will cost an additional $15.

For more information, call the Henderson School at 276-706-4011 or visit the website, which has more details about the programs and presenters.

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