Blair Campbell and the Pretty Penny Café in Hillsboro are back in business – and the place is alive with the sound of music! Located in the century-old Moore’s Store right on 219, the building went from old-fashioned country store to wonderful eating establishment back in the 1980s, when it opened as the Rosewood Café, whose fine food drew patrons form as far away as Charleston and Roanoke. The Rosewood was a musical place, with singer/songwriter Jan Schim a partner in the business with Melissa Shinaberry, the chef. For a couple of years, the Rosewood had a 15 minute radio segment Fridays at 4:45 PM on WVMR, Pocahontas County’s community radio station, when Jan or one of her guests would broadcast via phone line from the store’s show window. Here’s one of Jan’s tunes: youtube.com/watch?v=IFgMhY2RU6s
But all good things must end, and the Rosewood closed down when Jan decided to move to Nashville and try her chances in the music business. Other people took up the challenge – Paul Rose and Connie Groseclose ran it for a while, and they built the performance stage in the back. Lowell Galford also gave it a shot, but then it stood empty for a while until Blair (born Blair Sharp on the Mingo Flats Road in Randolph County, just off US 219,) decided to build on her success in running the Watoga Restaurant by opening a year-round café in Hillsboro, which she named “The Pretty Penny, in honor of her mother, Penelope Swecker Sharp, from Valley Head.
Under Blair’s management, this eating establishment regained the luster of the Rosewood Café days, and local music was a part of the mix, with Friday night jams and occasional special events.
But running a café with a non-Mom and Pop menu in a town of 500 is a dicey proposition, and Blair has been forced to shut down a couple of times – but this Spring she’s back again, with an extensive line up of great local musicians, booked by former Mountain Music Trail AmeriCorps at Melodie Wallace. Acts in early April include; Friday, April 5 – Uncle Gary and the Front Porch Pickers; Saturday, April 6 – Long Point String Band. youtube.com/watch?v=CVEQL5aJX_A
Most music venues are dead on Wednesdays, but the Pretty Penny has quite a few midweek bookings coming up, including: Wednesday, April 3 – Richard Hefner and Joanna Burt-Kinderman; Wednesday April 10, Phil Rolleston and Patrick Gabbert (pictured above); (Here’s Phil 20 years ago – in his rocker phase: youtube.com/watch?v=W-Qhl7jzK24 ). Wednesday May 1 – Jeanne Hoffman; Wednesday May 8 – Jim O’Dell. youtube.com/watch?v=-miFPXTQi80&list=PLpJfqvPNJX22I4unIOokhWN3JAI1iQbs-
And Saturday, May 3 look for Homer Hunter and Stony Bottom Bluegrass. Here’s Homer at Vandalia: youtube.com/watch?v=BmYceOR1wUA
Check out FB at Pretty Penny Café, for more bookings. (Note Saturday, June 22 will be a BIG night at the PP – with Kenny and Amada Smith Band, Bluegrass stars and instructors at Allegheny Echoes Summer Music Workshops, which take place that week in Marlinton.) youtube.com/watch?v=_48nhJeK1HoS
Other shows of note along the Mountain Music Trail in April:
Saturday April 20 – The Hillbilly Gypsies youtube.com/watch?v=DwkAXeyEmv8. Wednesday April 24, 8 pm The Cave Twins, featuring David Mayfield and Abby Rose (formerly of the Speedbumps) youtube.com/watch?v=KggTg5S41sc
At the Pocahontas County Opera House in Marlinton: Saturday, April 13 – The Sweetback Sisters, with Sweet Emily Miller of Elkins youtube.com/watch?v=v9Ac5I1sWN0
At Hill and Holler on US 219 in Lewisburg: Irish Music with Patrick O’Flaherty at 5pm Saturday and Sunday the weekends of April 6/7 and 13/14. youtube.com/watch?v=_iTb1XPYdZc
Have a great April – and be sure to check out some live music near where you live!
– Gibbs Kinderman, HashtagWV #112. April 2019.