McKenzies

Woody and Marcia McKenzie will play for the Morris Creek Watershed Association's hoedown square dance scheduled for Oct. 20.

MONTGOMERY — The Morris Creek Watershed Association will host a free community square dance party on Sunday, Oct. 20 from 3 to 5 p.m. at the MCWA headquarters at 328 Morris Drive, Montgomery.

“Featuring live mountain music, this free community dance party for all ages promises to be a real ‘barn-raiser,’ and you don’t even have to raise a barn,” Beach Vickers, the group’s Watershed Resource Specialist, wrote in promoting the event.

The group urges the public to come out for the event, even if you can’t dance.

“If you’re inexperienced, still come. We’ll have a teacher or ‘caller,’ David Mould of FOOTMAD (the Friends Of Old-Time Music And Dance).

“Don’t dance? Still come. The band visiting from Central Virginia named The McKenzies (husband and wife team Woody and Marcia McKenzie) will play all kinds of foot-tapping mountain music on all sorts of traditional instruments for you to sit and enjoy listening to.”

The McKenzies have been playing together since they were married in 1983. Woody, a native of southern West Virginia, grew up in a musical family, but didn’t start playing until he moved from home and missed hearing his parents’ music. He now plays the guitar, tenor banjo, concertina and the fiddle. Not only does he play, he builds instruments as well.

Marcia, a native of Ithaca, New York, discovered the more traditional forms of music as an adult. While growing up, she played the oboe in public school but didn’t delve into the music she currently plays until after college. She taught herself to play the mandolin and later picked up the guitar and claw hammer banjo. A vocalist, she’s also since learned to play the concertina, ukelele, various whistles, rhythm piano and the bodhran, a hand drum.

Together The McKenzies play a “unique blend of contemporary and original folk, traditional music of southern Appalachia and the British Isles, children’s music, funny songs, and even some swing and jazz standards,” according to their website, www.mckenziemusic.com.

The duo has played to rave reviews around the country. “Your music making demonstrates a natural and perspicacious sense of style and communication that is truly refreshing,” Steven White, artistic director of Opera Roanoke, wrote on their website. “Thank you for the integrity and joy that you bring to your performance. It is clear that you are both musicians of wit, wisdom and technique.”

The event is free, but the MCWA suggests a $10 donation which will be used to help the non-profit 501c3 volunteer organization continue its work. MCWA conducts a number of environmental conservation projects and offers free outdoor learning opportunities to scores of students from elementary to college age and out-of-school adults who make field study trips to Morris Creek.

As the results of coal mining in the 1970s, Morris Creek, a once vital, life-bearing tributary of the Kanawha River, was basically dead before a group of concerned citizens banded together in the early part of this century to try to restore life to the stream.

“Many years ago Morris Creek supported aquatic life such as crawfish, minnows, lizards, frogs, pockets of pan fish, and a variety of small aquatic creatures that resided in our stream bed,” the association’s website, morriscreekwatershed.org, reads. “For nearly 30 years, the lower portion of our stream was basically dead of aquatic life, with areas of swamps (or vats) of yellow ooze. There were also areas of white ooze from aluminum precipitating out of the water, and onto the streambed. These toxins come from bad coal mining practices from the 1970s as well as a previously active landfill containing many hazardous materials. Our stream had become an unsafe place for local children and nearby residents. …

“In early fall of 2001 several grassroots citizens took the initiative to organize and restore the environment to its previous pristine condition. On March 21, 2002 the Morris Creek Watershed Association, Inc. (MCWA) was officially formed and consisted of four officers, 22 directors, and a total of about 45 members. …

“The MCWA is a non-profit organization made up of local citizens with a mission to improve the safety of the Morris Creek watershed, restore its natural beauty, and provide recreational opportunities. MCWA’s goals are to return the Morris Creek watershed to a safe environment for all residents while restoring the water quality to a condition capable of supporting both aquatic life and local recreational activities. …

“To date, we have removed 161.6 tons of solid waste, remediated four Acid Mine Drainage sites, restored three out of four phases of our stream bank stabilization project, planted over 150 trees including 100 native chestnuts, reintroduced three species of trout to our waters, and constructed five K-dams to increase cover and habitat for the aquatic life.”

The MCWA has won a number of awards and grants for its work in reclaiming Morris Creek.

The dance will be held at the MCWA headquarters about one mile above the Dairy Queen at 328 Morris Drive. “We have lots of comfy seating for you, or bring your own favorite lawn chair — and comfortable dancin’ shoes. We have indoor heating if chilly, or can throw open the doors or even move the party outside if it’s warm, so dress in layers you can put on or take off as you want,” Vickers said.

Food also will be available for sale.

For more on the Morris Creek Watershed Association, visit the group’s website at morriscreekwatershed.org or its Facebook page @MorrisCreekWatershed.

Email ckeenan@register-herald.com; follow on Twitter @Fayette_Cheryl

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