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Earle hosts ‘Breaking up Christmas’

The New Smokey Valley Boys will be on stage in Mount Airy on Saturday, taking part in a tradition that goes back for generations: Breaking Up Christmas.

Breaking Up Christmas is a tradition of playing music and dancing in the time between Christmas Day on Dec. 25 and Old Christmas on Jan. 6.

“No one knows for sure when it started,” says Kelly Epperson, owner and manager of WPAQ. “Some people say it started in the 1920s and some people say it goes back to the century before that.”

“During those 12 days from Christmas Day to Jan. 6, folks would gather in homes and literally move the furniture outside so they could dance and play. The house would fill up with folks making old-time music,” Epperson said.

While he was a newscaster and reporter for NPR, musician Paul Brown received a National Federation of Community Broadcasters Silver Reel Award for his documentary “Breaking Up Christmas: A Blue Ridge Holiday Tradition.”

The collection of field recordings, songs and interviews explores the tradition as well as the song by the same name. Tommy Jarrell’s recording of “Breaking Up Christmas” may be the best known, but on the documentary the late Paul Sutphin credits his old neighbor Pat McKinney with the song: “Yeah, that’s old man Pat McKinney’s tune…he made up this ‘Breaking Up Christmas’…he’s the first man to ever fiddle it.” Sutphin said he didn’t know who wrote the words, only that they’d been around for as long as he could remember.

One of the versions of “Breaking Up Christmas” featured on the documentary is by Benton and Larry Flippen. Benton’s band, The Smokey Valley Boys, received numerous awards over the decades from the 1970s all the way to Flippen’s death in 2011. Though various members came and went, the group was known for its hard-driving and expressive style.

In its past 12 years, Andy Edmonds was a member of The Smokey Valley Boys and learned to fiddle directly under the guidance of Flippen. Kevin Fore also played with Flippen for a number of years, as did Wes Clifton (grandson of Verlen Clifton, another legendary musician). Edmonds, Fore, and Clifton have come together with Todd Hiatt to form The New Smokey Valley Boys, dedicated to preserving and reviving the particular sound that once dominated the old-time scene.

Saturday’s Breaking Up Christmas concert will begin at 7 p.m. at the Earle Theatre. Tickets are $10 and are available online at www.surryarts.org, via phone at 336-786-7998, or at the box office before the show. For additional information, contact Courtney Thompson, director of operations, at 336-786-7998 or courtney@surryarts.org.

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The New Smokey Valley Boys will be holding a Breaking Up Christmas concert and dance Saturday evening at the Historic Earle Theatre on Main Street in Mount Airy. The show begins at 7 p.m.
https://www.mtairynews.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/web1_TheNewSmokeyValleyBoys.jpgThe New Smokey Valley Boys will be holding a Breaking Up Christmas concert and dance Saturday evening at the Historic Earle Theatre on Main Street in Mount Airy. The show begins at 7 p.m. Surry Arts Council

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Source: https://www.mtairynews.com

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