The 40th annual Hopelands Summer Concert Series kicked off May 5 on the Roland H. Windham Performing Arts Stage, and since its opening performance, has been focused on delivering high quality multicultural entertainment in a relaxed outdoor environment. From ballet to broadway to jazz, and everything in between, the aim of the series is to provide a free community outing that both appeals to and educates the local public on various genres of the performing arts. This evening at 7:00, the attention will shift to “Old Time Appalachian” music with the HIT String Band at the helm of musician, retired educator and early Appalachian instrument restoration specialist Dave Donehoo.

Donehoo grew up in the small town of Roswell, GA learning music passed down from family members that came from Ireland to America in the early 1700s. He explains in an interview with Lincoln County Historical Society that “when they came they brought their music with them and have been playing ever since.” In their time, he elaborates, music was played primarily on dulcimers and fiddles, and was less a performance than it was a neighborhood affair, with friends, family and even strangers all participating together to make music and pass the time. “It was in this environment that I began to play and enjoy “Old Time Music” and today I still get a thrill hearing ten or fifteen musicians, of different ages and abilities, sit around in a circle and belt out an old tune like “Sugar Hill” or “Fisher’s Hornpipe.””

It was in this spirit that Donehoo formed the HIT String Band several years ago, a means of entertaining his audiences and teaching them how this traditional style has formed the basis for what is modern bluegrass and country music. “Today, Bluegrass is all the rage, but the roots of bluegrass and country music are found deeply embedded in what is referred to as “Appalachian Music.” (It) has been preserved and nurtured by many who still love it. And today I not only have the privilege of teaching others to play the old style music but have also become involved in building and repairing early Appalachian instruments.”

The HIT String Band, comprised of Donehoo along with five to ten other musicians, plays Appalachian music at various events throughout the Southeast, including Pioneer Days in Lincolnton, GA and a host of other local venues. This year’s performance at the Hopeland Summer Concert Series will include a variety of songs from “Yellow Rose of Texas” to “Bright Sunny South.” The free event will begin at 7 pm, with food and well-behaved pets on leashes welcome. Public parking is available at the Green Boundary Club on Whiskey Road across from Hopelands Gardens, with handicap parking available at the Hopelands Gardens parking lot at 135 Dupree Place. In case of inclement weather, call the rainout hotline at 803-643-4661.

The Summer Concert Series will continue each Monday at 7 pm, and for a look at the upcoming entertainment, be sure to visit our Aiken Events Calendar!