The Hampshire County Arts Council (HCAC) is pleased to announce the first annual Hampshire Highlands Arts & Music Festival to be held on Saturday, September 22  in Romney and Capon Bridge, WV.  A fun day is planned for art and music lovers, foodies, history buffs, and children.  Additional activities will take place Sunday, September 23.

Saturday In Romney at the Gazebo (S. High Street by Taggart Hall):

  • About 15 juried artists will set up around the Gazebo as well as in the adjacent Hampshire Co-op. Artists will be doing demos, talking about and selling their art from 10 am – 5 pm.  **In the event of rain, these artists will be in the Hampshire County Co-op & Artisans Market on S. Marsham St.)
  • Music will be part of the day starting at 11 am at the Gazebo, ranging from the new Hampshire County Ukulele Club to professional bands such as Hay Fever and Glory Bound Bluegrass. 
  • **In the event of rain, the music will be presented in the Hampshire County Co-op & Artisans Market on S. Marsham St.)
  • Food vendors will provide a variety from BBQ to ices for foodies.
  • Also in the area will be youth activities, including various arts & crafts, sidewalk chalk drawing, etc.
  • A Geocaching Competition with prizes will be of interest to adults and youth alike.
  • From noon to 3 pm, there will be guided historic walking tours.

Saturday evening at The Bottling Works, Romney:

  • As evening approaches, the fun moves to The Bottling Works with a Jazz Concert with Marion Mich & Company from 5-7pm. BBQ will be available for purchase.
  • At 7:30, the music and dancing begin with The Flashbacks. Tickets are still available at the low price of $8 for HCAC members and $10 for non-HCAC members.
  • Concerned with the late night? Discount room packages are available from the South Branch Inn which includes the concert, and an extended package which includes a Potomac Eagle Train ride on Sunday.  Details available at Koolwink Motel  is also offering a discount on the second night stay. 

Also Saturday around Hampshire County:


  • Docent-led hike of Ice Mountain Preserve in North River Mills at 9 am.
  • Rubber Duck race on the South Branch River at 2836 S Branch River Road from 1 – 3 pm.
    • Includes Music, Food, and Scarecrow Building Contest

For further call 304-298-3039. 

The Hampshire County Arts Council (HCAC), in cooperation with the South Branch Innof Romney (SBI) and the Potomac Eagle ExcursionTrain are offering special packages for visitors to our Hampshire Highlands Arts & Music Festival.  Each package must be requested and paid in advance via our web page

Buyer must provide name, mailing address, telephone number, and email address if available. 

South Branch Inn room reservations, subject to availability, will be made by HCAC at the rate of $72.80 including tax and are non-refundable. If cancelled, SBI will honor the $72.80 as a credit to another visit at normal rates (presently $115.36 including tax).  Rooms are Standard (2 double beds) with limits of 4 adults maximum, 3 children maximum, 5 persons total maximum and No Smoking. Continental breakfast available.

Potomac Eagle Scenic Rail tickets, non-refundable, will be held at the Wappocomo Station in the buyer’s name to be picked up prior to the train ride.  Adults (ages 13-59), Seniors (60 and above), Children (4-12), Children under age 4 free.

Package One:  Saturday September 22 Hampshire Highlands Arts & Music Festival with stay at South Branch Inn, 64 Heritage Circle, Romney, WV 26757, concert ticket to Flashbacks 7:30 PM September 22 at The Bottling Works, 426 E. Main Street, Romney, WV 26757, and train excursion on Potomac Eagle, September 23 from Wappocomo Station, 149 Eagle Drive, Romney, WV 26757. 

Package One Prices (approximately 30% reduction):

One Adult    $122.80    

Two Adults    $167.80  

One Senior    $117.80  

Two Seniors   $157.80  

One Adult + 1 child $132.80  

Two Adults + 1 child  $177.80  

One Senior + 1 child  $127.80  

Two Seniors + 1 child  $167.80  

One Adult + 2 children  $142.80  

Two Adults + 2 children  $187.80  

One Senior + 2 children  $137.80  

Two Seniors + 2 children  $177.80  

One Adult + 3 children   $152.80  

Two Adults + 3 children  $197.80  

One Senior + 3 children  $147.80  

Two Seniors + 3 children  $187.80  

Package Two:  Saturday, September 22 Hampshire Highlands Arts & Music Festival with stay at South Branch Inn, 64 Heritage Circle, Romney, WV 26757, and a concert ticket to The Flashbacks 7:30 PM September 22 at The Bottling Works, 426 E. Main Street, Romney, WV 26757. 

Sunday, September 23 options include a docent-led hike of Ice Mountain Preserve beginning at 9 AM (contact 304-460-8820 or 639klc@gmail.comfor registration and information) and “Ducks on the South Branch” rubber ducky race at 1 PM benefiting Hampshire County Co-op and Heritage Marketplace (look for signs.)

Package Prices (approximately 30% reduction):

One Adult – $82.80  

Two Adults – $87.80  

For information contact 304-298-3039 or

Hampshire County Arts Council will launch its Ukulele Club on June 8, 2018.  Under the leadership of accomplished musician, Jim Morris, youths and adults of all ages and levels of experience are invited to join the Ukulele Club for lessons and practice.  Sessions will be held every Friday from 11 am – 12 noon at the Hampshire Co-op, 56 S. Marsham St. Romney.

Interest in having a Ukulele Club began in the Summer Arts Camp 2017 with dozens of youths experiencing the fun of playing ukuleles for the first time.  With just a few hours of instruction during the weeklong camp, they were performing to the enjoyment and amazement of parents and friends for the closing open house.

A number of ukuleles, provided by the arts council, are available for use by participants. Those whohave their own are encouraged to bring them.  There will be a nominal fee of $5 per session or $35 for the 9 Ukulele Club classes scheduled throughout the summer. Continuing practices will be determined by the club at the end of summer.  Come out and give it a try!  By the end of summer, you can be ready to perform for local events!  Fill out registration form Registration for Ukulele Club sponsored by  Hampshire County Arts Council.  For Information, contact Joanne Snead, 304-298-3039 

Throughout the summer months, youth entering 3rd grade in the fall up through this year’s high school graduates will have the opportunity to attend workshops taught by distinguished artists in various media.   Most of these will be offered on Thursdays and Fridays from June 7 through Aug. 10 in the classroom of the Hampshire County Co-op and Heritage Marketplace, 56 S. Marsham St., Romney.  Below you will find a list of the workshops scheduled so far.  More are expected to be added soon.

One continuing workshop that grew out of last summer’s arts camp will be a Ukulele Club that will meet every Friday, beginning June 8 at 11 am for 1 hour with lessons and practice under the leadership of Jim Morris.  Unlike the other workshops, the club will be open to youth and adults of all ages and of all levels of experience.   There will be ukuleles available for use; those who have their own instruments are asked to bring them.  Those who are just learning to play will soon find that they are becoming proficient enough to play along with more experienced musicians.  Before the end of the summer, we look forward to having a ukulele club that will be willing to perform for local events!

Performing ukuleles for open house
Ukuleles performing for Summer Arts Camp 2017

Each workshop will be limited to 12 participants to allow instructors to give their best attention to each student and will require advance registration.   The exception will be the Ukulele Club which will be unlimited in size.  A special saving offer of $35 is available for the 9 Ukulele Club classes scheduled for the summer.  For all other classes there will be a nominal fee of $5 per student per class or 6 classes for $25.

  • Friday, June 8, 11 am-12 noonUkulele Club with lessons and practice under the leadership of Jim Morris
  • Friday, June 8, 1-2 pmExploring Composition taught by Sibyl MacKenzie.  Students will learn how to make dynamic compositions that draw the eye around the surface, provide balance and elegance, and interest in line and shape can be an intriguing and educational effort.
  • Thursday, June 14 & Friday, June 15, 9:30-10:30 amCartooning taught by Robin Pancake.  At the completion of this 2-session class, students will have completed their own comic strip.  There will be only a single charge of $5 for this 2-session class.
  • Friday, June 15, 11 am-12 noonUkulele Club with lessons and practice under the leadership of Jim Morris
  • Friday, June 22, 11 am-12 noonUkulele Club with lessons and practice under the leadership of Jim Morris
  • Friday, June 22, 1-2:30 pm:  Acrylic Painting, Beach Theme, taught by Missy Shockey. In this class students will learn how to blend and dry brush colors on canvas to create their own masterpiece to take home.
  • Friday, June 22, 3-4:30 pm:  Acrylic Painting, Dream Catcher, taught by Missy Shockey. In this class students will learn how to blend and dry brush colors on canvas to create their own masterpiece to take home.
  • Friday, June 29, 11 am-12 noonUkulele Club with lessons and practice under the leadership of Jim Morris
  • Friday, June 29, 1-2 pm: “Easy-gami!”   paper folding for beginning Origami taught by Nancy Judd. Class size limited to 8.
  • Friday, July 6, 11 am-12 noonUkulele Club with lessons and practice under the leadership of Jim Morris
  • Thursday, July 12, 1-3 pm:  Watercolor, 101:  Learn the basics of watercolor painting with instructor Barbie Hillenbrand. Get past the fear of painting with watercolor and learn the magic ways behind creating great paintings.
  • Friday, July 13, 11 am-12 noonUkulele Club with lessons and practice under the leadership of Jim Morris
  • Friday, July 13, 1-3 pm:  Watercolor – Paint What You See:  Learn the basics of watercolor painting with instructor Barbie Hillenbrand. Students will learn to take a deeper look at what they see. Is black really black? Is white really white?
  • Friday, July 20, 11 am-12 noonUkulele Club with lessons and practice under the leadership of Jim Morris
  • Friday, July 27, 11 am-12 noonUkulele Club with lessons and practice under the leadership of Jim Morris
  • No classes scheduled for Aug. 7-8 :  PEACH FESTIVAL WEEKEND
  • Friday, August 10, 9:15 am-10:30 am:  Draw What You HearCANCELLED
  • Friday, August 10, 11 am-12 noonUkulele Club with lessons and practice under the leadership of Jim Morris
  • Friday, August 10, 1:30-2:30 pm, Glass art, class 1:  CANCELLED
  • Friday, August 10, 3:00-4:30 pm, Glass art, class 2:  CANCELLED
  • Saturday, August 11, 9 am-11 am:  Romney’s Unique ArchitectureCANCELLED

To register, please fill in form Registration Arts Adventures Workshops and return with check made payable to HCAC Arts Adventure Workshops and mail to Joanne Snead, PO Box 305, Springfield WV 26763. For additional information, call Joanne at 304-298-3039 or email

Enrollment is limited to 12 students per class, except for Ukulele Club and will be “first come/first serve.”   Register early to insure your space! 




Saturday, November 11, at 7:30PM HCAC will present Dan Frechette and Laurel Thomsen, “making beautiful music together,” on stage at The Bottling Works, 426 E. Main St., Romney, WV.  

Advance tickets may be purchased online via PayPal with a $1.50 processing fee per order, or tickets can be purchased at the door by cash or check. Under 17 are admitted free.

HCAC-member Advance $8 each 

Non-member Advance $10 each

“…best songwriters I’ve heard in a long time…”  – Sing Out

“…beautiful rapport…judicious violin…Frechette and Thomsen maintain absolute harmony while jumping from genre to genre…fascinating undertones and range…phenomenal guitar playing…prodigious players (with) songwriting that sets them apart…”  – Penguins Eggs

“Making beautiful music together, this duo lit up the MayFest stage…a remarkable singing voice…a match made in heaven.” – Dennis Taylor, The Monterey Herald

“Dan Frechette & Laurel Thomsen are everything we could hope for in a house concert. Their songs are great, their musicianship is top notch, and their stage presence and interaction with the audience is wonderful. They are friendly to work with and a true delight on stage. We got very positive feedback from our audience and look forward to having them back here in the future.” – Russ Paris, Russ and Julie’s House Concerts

“…What talent and charisma! My audience has never been so enthralled at any of my house concerts. They didn’t want to let Dan and Laurel go. And who could blame them? I highly recommend this fantastic couple!!! You will be amazed.” – P. DeLorenzo, House Concert Host

Meeting via a chance YouTube sighting and fueled by their undeniable musical chemistry, eclectic Roots-Folk songwriters Dan Frechette, guitar/harmonica/vocals, and Laurel Thomsen, violin/vocals, prove that musical magic is not only possible, but “a match made in heaven” (Monterey Herald). Lyrically refreshing and musically diverse, since meeting in person in early 2013, this Canadian-American duo has been making up for lost time. Logging over 150 concerts per year throughout the U.S. and Canada since then, they have already released three radio charting albums of their diverse and uplifting original material. Dan and Laurel “take to the stage with exuberance”… and with “their energy, winsome personalities, and toe tapping rhythms, keep audiences engaged with every song” (Carlin Hall Newsletter, Tappen, British Columbia).

With the duo’s international attention growing, ovations abound. As described by Brandie Michelle for the Medicine Hat Zine, Dan and Laurel share music that is “thoughtful, well composed and cleanly performed…” adding that “they are both extremely skilled musicians and their pairing of contrasting styles is the closest thing to perfection in a musical duo”. Arlene Davidson, a writer for The Clipper in Lac Du Bonnet, Manitoba remarked on their “perfectly blended vocal harmonies” after taking in the duo at the Fire n Water Festival in 2013. In review of their latest release, Canada’s premier music magazine Penguins Eggs wrote “…beautiful rapport…judicious violin…Frechette and Thomsen maintain absolute harmony while jumping from genre to genre…fascinating undertones and range…phenomenal guitar playing…prodigious players (with) songwriting that sets them apart…”

Highlights from the duo’s extensive tour schedule have included opportunities to play many famous and unique folk festivals, including the Winnipeg Folk Festival (2016), the American River Festival (2016), Artswells Festival (2016), the Brandon Folk Festival (2013), and the Fire n Water Festival (2013 and 2015). Other memorable concerts have included opportunities to open for The Wailin’ Jennys, headline the Medicine Hat Folk Club’s “Tongue On The Post” concert series, play the oldest theater in Western Canada in Indian Head, Saskatchewan (complete with resident ghosts and Charlie Chaplin’s signature marked backstage), and to perform a sold out feature on the Eastern Manitoba Concert Association (EMCA) series.

Also favorites within the North American house concert circuit, Dan and Laurel spend most weeks performing for captive audiences in living rooms across the continent. Most notably they have enjoyed Canadian “Home Routes” tours of northern British Columbia, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan (2015 and 2016), headlining the Listening Room Festival in  Florida (2015), and a spot on the definitive Russ & Julie’s House Concert series in Los Angeles (2014) among many others.

Dan Frechette, Canadian entertainer, multi-instrumentalist, uncanny impressionist, and prolific singer-songwriter, is a musical force. With over 1300 songs across a impressive range of acoustic genres, and including the The Duhks’ hit singles “The Mists of Down Below” and “You Don’t See It”, Dan was signed to EMI publishing at 17. Since then he has  released over 25 albums of original material, and has been performing high-energy, soulful concerts throughout North America and Europe since 1992. Dan’s prolific output, iconic voice, and under-the-radar career path have led many luminaries to sing his songs and share their stages. Dan has opened for the likes of Dar Williams, Richard Thompson, Ron Sexsmith, Blackie and The Rodeo Kings, and Iian Matthews of Fairport Convention. “Dan Frechette has never written a song I don’t like” says Ismaila Alfa of CBC Radio. Dan has played most major folk festivals over the course of his career, including the Winnipeg, Edmonton, Trout Forest, Mariposa, and Stan Rogers Festivals, and the Suwanee Springfest. He is considered one of Canada’s best performers on acoustic guitar and harmonica, inspiring the career paths of many up-and-coming singer-songwriters now touring internationally.

Laurel Thomsen, California born genre-bending violinist, composer, published author, and respected educator, has performed classically and with a variety of bands and artists since 1998. With a rich and expressive violin tone and an interpretive style that can both rock a solo or add backup texture and groove, Laurel is frequently sought for her ability to add depth and emotion to diverse styles of music. Penguin Eggs Magazine called her “a terrific violinist and accompanist.” Dubbed the “Hookmeister” by one Bay Area recording engineer, her knack for creating infectious melodies has saved more than one person’s song from the studio chopping block. Also an emerging songwriter and singer with a “remarkable singing voice” (Monterey Herald), Laurel enjoys exploring universal topics and life’s questions through song. Creator and host of the popular Violin Geek Podcast since 2010, the author of several multi-media string playing technique guides, a longtime Strings magazine contributor, and since 1996, a dedicated private, Skype, and workshop lessons instructor to violin, viola, and fiddle students around the world, Laurel is passionate about not only sharing her music on stage, but helping others find their musical expression.

Dan Frechette with guitar and Laurel Thomsen with fiddle

Now touring their third album, Between The Rain is steadily gaining attention, maintaining a top five position on the national Canadian Roots charts for several weeks throughout the Summer and Fall of 2016. An arresting collection of twelve fully realized original songs, Between The Rain is abundant in memorablemelodies, tight harmonies, and the polished, yet stripped down approach that define the Dan and Laurel sound. Diverse themes throughout the album, tell stories of love and finding joy in the simple things in life, as well as contemporary folk topics, including wealth disparity, social responsibility, and personal empowerment. From the Bill Withers influenced gospel-funk ballad “Carry Our Bones” and the hypnotic guitar and soaring violin of Celtic influenced “Sweet Beauty,” to the orchestral underpinnings of the modern classic rock anthem “Glory in My Soul” and the Stéphane Grappelli-esque Gypsy-Jazz duet “Two in the Morning,” Dan and Laurel showcase their virtuosity as writers, arrangers, and instrumentalists, conjuring unique moods with each track and setting the stage for a dynamic twelve course menu listeners will want to savor again and again.

Sharing all the booking, marketing, and management duties between them, it’s clear that Dan and Laurel are driven to create, play, and perform, and are quickly finding their niche on the North American folk circuit. However, hard work and dedication is only one facet of Dan and Laurel; as those who meet and hear them soon discover, “there is something incredibly romantic about these two and the way that their love story is told through their music” (Brandie Michelle, Medicine Hat Zine). Whether at home together on the California Central Coast, or making their home together at various tour stops across North America, it is clear to people who observe these two that their harmony extends well beyond their music.

With broad influences ranging from Folk, Classical, Old Time and Celtic, to Gospel, Jazz, Vintage Country, Rock N’ Roll, Blues, and Bluegrass, Dan and Laurel flow seamlessly through genres, tempos, stories, and moods, embodying each style with virtuosic command and keeping music fans on the edge of their seats. Enjoyment is palpable.

Seth Maynard

Saxophonist Rich Norwood


The Hampshire County Arts Council’s 2017 Season continues with An Evening of Jazz and More. Seth Maynard and Rich Norwood will be playing jazz, bossa nova, blues and some oldies at The Bottling Works in Romney WV on Friday June 9th.

Seth Maynard has been playing for several years at the Capon Bridge Founders Day Festival. His training at Berklee College of Music is evident in his skillful and colorful guitar and vocal stylings. He performs as many as 100 shows each year at various regional venues and serves as Adjunct Music Faculty at Davis & Elkins College and West Virginia Wesleyan College. As owner and operator of Lone Wolf Productions, where his credits are numerous, his work has included sound mixing for the West Virginia PBS show, “American Mountain Theater.” Seth performs regionally as a solo/duo act, and with his groups Osmosis, The Cool Cats, The Ginsangers and ZEN. Performance highlights from past years include special shows for the Polar Express (Elkins, WV), Jazz at Charles Pointe, Tamarack (Beckley, WV), as a solo act at Deerfield Restaurant (Canaan, WV), the Purple Fiddle and events hosted by the WV Jazz Society. Seth has toured the country with various groups and opened for many national and international artists over the course of his career. Recent recording releases include “Duo Primo, Randall Hall and Seth Maynard” and “Christmas Time Is Here” featuring the vocal talents of Rachel Franks.

As a longtime music educator in the Randolph County school system of West Virginia, Rich Norwood has reached far and wide, touching the lives of students around the world. He has performed at the Montreaux Jazz Festival in Switzerland and shared the stage with internationally acclaimed jazz artists, like trumpeter Arturo Sandoval, organist Gene Ludwig, and drummer Roger Humphries.

Currently, Rich performs with the Queen City Funk & Soul Band in Oakland, MD and in West Virginia with The Cool Cats, The Morgantown Jazz Orchestra and Young Funk Sung. He has been a featured performer for several WV Jazz Society special engagements.

The show starts at 7:30 pm and the Box Office opens at 6:30. Tickets are $10 ($8 for members) and can be purchased at the door or on-line at

Kevin Matheson, violin ~ Bryan Matheson, viola ~ Brenda Wittwer, piano


Now in its eighth season, the Rainier Trio is an exciting and energetic group that captivates audiences with gems from the violin-viola-piano trio repertoire. A combination written for since the 17th century, the repertoire includes works by Mozart, Mendelssohn and Milhaud, bridging genres from classical to ragtime and tango.

Hailed as “two perfect virtuosos” at their international performance debut, Kevin and Bryan Matheson of the Classic Strings Duo were received with critical acclaim at their Carnegie Weill Recital Hall début as part of the Ibla Grand Prize competition winners’ tour. The duo has been recognized for its mesmerizing and spirited performances – two perfect virtuosos, playing as one. They have teamed up with pianist Brenda Wittwer, a native of Charlotte, NC. She has been accompanist for Theater Charlotte, Pfeiffer University Concert Choir and Sounds of America, a musical group which toured the 48 contiguous states.

They have performed a series of concerts in Pittsburgh and on the classical radio station WQED with Alex Jones, principal clarinetist of the Pittsburgh Philharmonic. The trio has performed at Musikfest in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and collaborated with opera singers at the Vocal Arts and Music Festival at Virginia Tech. Their CD was chosen as “CD of the week” by WQED Pittsburgh.

The Classic Strings Duo and Rainier Trio are partially supported by funding from the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts