Old time tradition at Levitt

Published 11:51 am Friday, August 3, 2018

Despite the dreary weather, this weeks Levitt AMP Middlesboro Music Series show went off without a hitch. The main act, Mountain Park Old Time Band, wanted the audience to feel their music, to get into it and start dancing. They wanted people to dance so much, they even placed a mat at the venue specifically for people to cut a rug —and cut a rug they did, even in the drizzling rain.

Mountain Park Old Time is not a bluegrass band. Their stylings are more folk and dance oriented.

“Almost all of our songs are not copyrighted or old songs passed down through word of mouth,” said band member Mark Handy.

Handy noted that one of the biggest differences between his band’s Old Time style and bluegrass are the instruments played and the beat of the music. Mountain Park Old Time Band is distinctly meant to get your toes tapping.

Band member Roger Stamper said that typical in bluegrass, each instrument has a chance to be singled out in a song. A portion of a song will feature only the fiddle, for example. In the Old Time style, all the instruments are played together with the fiddle in the lead.

Handy and Stamper grew up on this style of music and have been playing it since they were children. There is a massive emphasis of tradition with their music. Songs are passed down from generation to generation and the music is played within families and family gatherings.

“It was not unusual for folks to go to another person’s house, take the furniture out of two rooms and the bands stands in the doorway and the dancers would dance in the two rooms on either side of the band,” said Stamper.

The most unique aspect of how the Mountain Park Old Time Band plays music is directly tied to the genres traditional roots. The music is passed down by ear, so neither Stamper nor Handy can read music.

The Mountain Park Old Time Band currently has five albums under their belt and a consistent touring schedule.