Lester and Linda McCumbers will be
honored at this year's WV Folk Festival
(Photo compliments of Jim Meads)

This year's 58th West Virginia Folk Festival at Glenville is dedicated to Calhoun's noted mountain music makers Lester and Linda McCumbers of Nicut.

The festival kicks off this week.

Both Lester and Linda are 85 years old and have been married since they were 16.

Lester has won over 50 fiddle contests over the years, receiving the Vandalia Award, West Virginia's highest folk-life honor, in 2005.

The Vandalia Award is presented annually to a West Virginian who has made outstanding contributions to the continuation of the state's folk heritage, recognizing lifetime achievement in the performance, creation or perpetuation of West Virginia traditional arts.

McCumbers and his wife fill the bill.

He was born in 1921 in southern Calhoun County, and carries on a rich tradition of fiddling, singing and guitar playing that has thrived in his family for generations.

He has performed widely for more than 60 years with old-time and bluegrass music groups, appearing at concerts, contests, festivals, square dances and on radio shows throughout West Virginia and elsewhere.

He has maintained his music as an important part of his life, developing a personal style of playing and singing marked by sincerity, drive and emotion.

Lester and Linda in the early 1960s, performing
live at Spencer's WSPZ (now WVRC) Radio Station
(Photo compliments of Jim Meads)

"I just don't feel right if I don't play a tune or two every day," he is quoted as saying in an article in the spring 2004 issue of Goldenseal magazine.

"Music just gives me a lot of satisfaction in my heart. I've always tried to play the fiddle or sing a song to suit myself and the way I feel it," said McCumbers.

He and his wife and performing partner Linda have known each other since childhood. They were married in 1937 and raised nine children as they performed with a variety of bands.

For four years in the mid-1960s, they hosted a weekly radio show on WSPZ in Spencer.

The couple's first CD recording, "Old Timey," was released in 2002 and features 26 of their old-time fiddle tunes and songs.

Now, they will be recognized, one more time, at the West Virginia Folk Festival.

View photos of Lester and Linda's life at www.oldtimeherald.org