BOONE — For the first time in decades, the Appalachian Theatre of the High Country hosted a live performance on Oct. 14 with a sold-out show for John McEuen and the String Wizards and special guests.
The newly renovated theatre pays many homages to the original theatre that burned in the 1950s, including the marque, carpets and light fixtures, and these details weren’t missed by guests at the Oct. 14 concert. Even the programs were styled after original programs from the theatre’s opening in 1938.
The crowd, which was more than enough to fill the theatre’s lobby before auditorium doors opened at 6:30 p.m., could be heard expressing their amazement at the new space, and many remembered the theatre before the fire.
Lillie Roark, a volunteer who was working concessions on Monday night, grew up around Boone in nearby Meat Camp.
“This is great,” Roark said as the lobby continued to fill with the buzz of pre-show excitement. “I’m just glad they saved it.”
Roark’s sentiments were echoed by the majority of the audience members, some of whom were Boone town officials.
Loretta Clawson, current Boone Town Council member, was elated by the opening.
“It’s been a work in progress, and I couldn’t be happier about how it all came out,” Clawson said.
John Cooper took to the stage at 7 p.m. to welcome the audience to the new App Theatre, and he was met, almost immediately, with a standing ovation from the crowd. He officially dedicated the stage as the Doc Watson Stage for Americana Music and recognized audience members who helped restore its former glory to the App Theatre.
“Tonight we’re here to celebrate what our collective efforts have accomplished so far,” said Cooper before welcoming John McEuen to the stage.
The concert followed McEuen’s career, from the first guitar he bought in California to his career in the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. Audience members laughed in their seats and stomped along to familiar tunes from the banjo.
John McEuen and the String Wizards were joined on stage by Rodney Dillard, Jack Lawrence, Celia Millington-Wyckoff and local musician Liam Purcell to assist McEuen in sharing his story and memories of Doc.
The next performance at the Appalachian Theatre will be from the U.S. Army Jazz Ambassadors on Oct. 17, and the free show is sold-out. To learn more about the App Theatre’s history and upcoming shows, visit www.apptheatre.org.