Winner Eugene Parsons (R) accompanied by
Mike Loving (L) at Folk
By Bob Weaver
A Calhoun banjo picker and fiddler have won first place in the over 50 contest at the
53rd West Virginia Folk Festival at Glenville. A large crowd attended the music
competition, a center piece of the festival.
Orma resident Eugene Parsons won first place in the banjo competition. "My mother
(Phoeba Parsons) taught me original tunes and the original way, and I've stuck to it,"
he said. Parsons was accompanied by guitar player John Loving from Cross
Lester McCumbers of Nicut won first place in the over 50 contest. McCumbers, who is
an over 80 fiddler, must be getting use to trophies, plaques and sometimes a little
cash for performing his talent. During the Folk Festival competition, Eugene Parsons
accompanied McCumbers in his win.
Both Parsons and McCumbers had plenty of competition at the festival.
Parsons played on a banjo made by music man Jenes Cottrell in 1969 from a torque
converter off a 1956 Buick. Jenes hand-crafted the banjos in his home which did not
have electric. He made several, all in current circulation.
Lester McCumbers sips coffee from McCumber's Cup
McCumbers, who has often taught Calhoun's young award winning fiddler Jake Krack,
was drinking and smiling with a coffee cup engraved with his name.
Numerous Calhoun musicians continue a long tradition of excelling in original
mountain music, bluegrass and gospel. Both Parsons and Cottrell played with
eloquence befitting a symphony orchestra.
Parson's mom, the late Phoeba Parsons, was a shining star along with her brother
Noah Cottrell, for at least 25 years at the Folk Festival. Phoeba and Noah, besides
being accomplished mountain musicians, were great entertainers.
Phoeba was also a flatfoot dancer, a talent that was generally reserved for men. She
could do it with the best of them. She performed at the 1963 World's Fair.
Mack Samples said "Phoeba was the real thing."
Calhoun music fans cheer the entertainers