CHESTER — A concert by musicians Kendra Ward and Bob Bence delighted guests during the Chester Shade Historical Association (CSHA) Christmas open house in early December. The couple played a wide selection of musical numbers that included Christmas favorites, Appalachian staples, and requests from the audience.
Ward and Bence are known for their “Authentic Appalachian Soul,” preforming in venues across the United States and Europe. The couple intermixed the history of their music and instruments and some amusing anecdotes that left the audience with a feeling of inclusion in the performance.
Ward began playing the hammered dulcimer when she was four, a skill she learned from her father and grandmother. Bence accompanies her on guitar, while also entertaining guests with his sense of humor.
Each Sunday morning, the duo post a new video on YouTube featuring a traditional hymn or gospel tune. Titled “Sunday Sunrise,” Ward said so far there have been no duplicate songs.
“We are going to keep going until we run out of songs,” she said. “So far we haven’t had any difficulty finding a different one each week, there are so many good ones out there.”
The Old Meigs County Courthouse, also known as the Chester Courthouse, is now a Museum, and was decorated with Nutcrackers. After the concert guests enjoyed searching for them scattered among the historic artifacts and received a Nutcracker of their own for participating. Guests also mingled over a buffet of fresh baked goods as children wrote letters to Santa.
“This was our last event of the year,” CSHA President Dan Will said. “We were happy with the turnout. Hopefully we will be able to have our annual events in 2022, as well as some others we hope to add to our schedule.”
He said the past year has been difficult, with many of the association’s plans put on hold due to COVID-19, but that he and the members are looking ahead not only to next year, but to 2023, which will be the bicentennial of the courthouse founding.
The museum is open Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., subject to change due to weather or COVID-19 concerns. Visitors should call ahead to verify, and can also arrange a time to visit other than regular hours by calling 740-985-9822. Also visit them on Facebook: Chester Shade Historical Association, for the latest updates and events.
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Lorna Hart is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing.