Martinsville Bulletin, Inc.
P. O. Box 3711
204 Broad Street
Martinsville, Virginia 24115
Toll Free: 800-234-6575
Rooster Walk adds day focused on locals
Josh Shilling, Clinton Gregory to perform
Bassett native Josh Shilling (left) and Martinsville native Clinton Gregory, both of whom have made multiple appearances on the Grand Ole Opry stage, will play Sunday at Rooster Walk 4 near Martinsville. They will play as part of the festival’s “Locals Appreciation Day.” Tickets will be $10 each. Shilling and Gregory are seen above in a friend’s studio in Nashville, Tenn. (Contributed photo)
Monday, May 21, 2012
By ERIC STEINKOPFF - Bulletin Staff Writer
Rooster Walk has added a special “Locals Appreciation Day” this year.
“Ever since the very first year we’ve had people saying, ‘I don’t have to go to work on Monday — you should extend it to Sunday,’” event co-founder Johnny Buck said of the festival, which is held annually on Memorial Day weekend. “This year we decided we were ready ... to add an extra day.”
Rooster Walk 4 will be held Thursday through Sunday and will feature more than 30 bands playing various types of music, including funk, rock, bluegrass, country, blues, reggae, jazz, Americana and more.
The concert will be at Blue Mountain Festival Grounds, 2067 Coopers Mountain Road, Martinsville.
Locals Appreciation Day will be May 27, in appreciation of the local community and its support for local talent. Admission will cost $10 and will include performances by 11 bands.
“We really wanted to take the opportunity of adding Sunday to make it very affordable,” Buck said. “Times are tough, and we understand that. We hope that we can get some people out here for the first time, have a good time and decide that they need to come out here every year in the future.”
Performers will include Josh Shilling, originally from Bassett, with friends and members of the Mountain Heart band, and Clinton Gregory, originally from Martinsville, who has at least 28 appearances at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville.
Other bands with local ties will include Sanctum Sully with Martinsville natives Jay Franck and Win Webster; Bear Mountain Picnic with Martinsville High School students; Poverty Level, formerly of Stuart; After Jack of Ferrum; and Montana Young of Bassett.
“The idea is to have fun and promote the local talent — we’re going to have some guests up there” on stage, Shilling said. “I can’t imagine a more supportive hometown than Martinsville, anywhere in the world.”
Shilling is a singer, songwriter and musician who boasts a combination of experience and musical expertise, according to an event news release. He was born in Martinsville and went to Bassett High School.
He began playing piano at 7 and studied rock, jazz and classic country as a child, later maturing into a skilled pianist in the honky tonk, rock, funk and soul genres, the release said.
Shilling had some real-life examples for struggling young musicians trying to make it a profession.
“I learned to play and honed my craft at Bassett High School functions, weddings, churches, the American Legion and the Moose Lodge,” he said.
In 2007, he started working with the group Mountain Heart as a full-time songwriter. Since then, Shilling has toured with the group across the United States and in Europe and has made numerous appearances on the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville.
He also has released his first solo CD.
“I just (released) my very first solo record — my very first album,” he said. “I’ll have some brand new CDs available at the show.”
It’s the people that make the Sunday event special for Shilling.
“People always want to know how I’m doing — that doesn’t happen anywhere else,” he said. “I wear Bassett and Martinsville T-shirts proudly on the road.”
When times were lean and he was struggling, local fans helped him survive.
Martinsville “has always been there for me anytime I came home,” Shilling said. “They always invite me to play. People would create a show for me to do. They never forget you there” in Martinsville.
He predicted a fun performance.
“It’s going to be a rowdy little jam out there in the afternoon. That’s a really good price for a lot of music,” Shilling said. “I’m stoked about it.”
Shilling also said he is thrilled to have a chance to work with Gregory, a Martinsville native who sold out the Rives Theatre two years ago at $20 a ticket, according to Buck.
“The feeling is mutual,” Gregory said of his opportunity to work with Shilling and possibly play with some old friends and relatives in the area.
“I grew up there, and anytime I can get back there it’s great,” Gregory said in an interview last week.
Gregory grew up learning the family business and following his love of music under the influence of his father, Willie Gregory, and his brother, Will Gregory.
According to Gregory, his father won a fiddle contest in 1976, and “the prize was a few hundred dollars and a trip to the Grand Ole Opry” in Nashville on March 12, 1977.
That encouraged him to pursue his music even more.
“I had been playing since I was about 4,” Gregory said. But after the trip, “I went home and really went to work on it (music). It really gave me the fever to want to do it.”
According to a news release, Gregory was 19 when he moved to Nashville where his father was playing at the Grand Ole Opry.
Gregory is authentic country artist — songwriter, singer and fiddle player — who has worked with Neil Young, Willie Nelson, Mark O’Connor, Hank Williams Jr., Garth Brooks, Marty Stuart, Travis Tritt and Brooks and Dunn, the release said.
“Years later — I’d had a few records by then — February 1992, I think — I’d been lucky enough to get on (the Opry) a few times,” Gregory said modestly.
His father, who was in poor health at the time, visited his son in Nashville. The two shared the stage one last time.
“I gave the spot to him,” Gregory said. “The last note we ever played together was at the Grand Ole Opry.”
Clinton Gregory doesn’t get to come back to Southside often, although his mother, brother, sister, and aunts and uncles still live in the area.
Will Gregory, who is seven years older than Clinton, plays the guitar and might make an appearance Sunday.
“Hopefully he’ll come out and play with us a bit. He always has been a big influence on me,” Gregory said. “I don’t know if I made it or if I ever will, but I still look up to them” — his father and his brother.
“I’d like to invite everybody to come,” Gregory said.
Rooster Walk remembers two Martinsville natives, Edwin “the Rooster” Penn and Walker Shank. Proceeds from the volunteer-led festival go to the Penn-Shank Memorial Scholarship at Martinsville High School.
In three years, the festival has donated $15,000 to the scholarship fund at MHS, according to Buck.
For Rooster Walk ticket information, including details about VIP tickets and on-site camping, visit www.roosterwalk.com.