• September 22, 2019

Preserving the Fraley family tradition - The Trail Blazer: Life & Arts

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Preserving the Fraley family tradition

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Posted: Friday, September 6, 2019 6:28 pm | Updated: 7:36 pm, Mon Sep 9, 2019.

The Fraley Festival of Traditional Music has been keeping the family’s traditions alive for an estimated 48 years.

The festival began as a family reunion that quickly gained the attention of other musicians. J.P. and Annadeene Fraley transformed the family gathering to include any interested performers in their yearly celebrations. The festival began with Annadeene as the director, but since 2001 it has been directed by Dayton, Ohio native Barb Kuhns.

“She not only organized and got people to do stuff. She did the sound. She was the MC. She did everything,” said Kuhns.

The festival is continued today to preserve the music that J.P. and Annadeene Fraley’s generation performed, but also to bring people together to learn from each other, jam and enjoy the scenery Carter Caves has to offer.

Fraley Festival
Dulcimer players on stage at the Fraley Festival of Traditional Music Friday, September 6, 2019. Photo by Daneyl Tackett. Daneyl Tackett

“We don’t really do bluegrass. Sometimes this is called old-time music or mountain music," said Kuhns. "It kind of started mostly before bluegrass. It’s great music, but there’s lots of outlets for that.”

Music played at the festival, which Kuhns refered to as mountain music and old-time music, is different from bluegrass in that it does not have a specific banjo style. While there are other festivals in the area that celebrate bluegrass, the Fraley Festival brings together the people who enjoy listening to the traditional tunes.

Fraley Festival
Dave Haas playing dulcimer on stage at the Fraley Festival of Traditional Music Friday, September 6, 2019. Photo by Zoe Hall. Zoe Hall

“We’re very fortunate. JP’s daughter has been learning dulcimer. She was, I think, a music educator through her life, but played French horn and last night for the first time she played on stage with her dulcimer teacher, so I was thrilled,” said Kuhns.

The festival plans to continue the tradition with both old and new events including jam sessions, stage concerts, square dancing and a movie where attendees can speak to the filmmaker.