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Lizzy Long to play at Mountaineer Opry tonight

Jul. 18, 2008 @ 12:00 AM

MILTON -- The Mountaineer Opry House has hosted quite an array of bluegrass legends over the last year, from J.D. Crowe to Jesse McReynolds. Tonight, one of the best of the new generation of bluegrass musicians, Lizzy Long, will bring her voice and multi-instrumental virtuosity to the Opry stage in Milton.

The show begins at 7:30 p.m. and the tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, and $5 for kids 12 and under.

Lizzy Long, 24, grew up down the road from bluegrass legend Little Roy Lewis in the eastern Georgia town of Lincolnton. She learned to play music at a young age, starting with the fiddle and then adding the guitar and banjo. After problems at home with her family caused the state to intervene, Little Roy stepped up and became Long's foster parent when she was a teenager. Her involvement in the music business grew from there.

"Little Roy and (wife) Bonnie, they got me when I was 15 years old," said Long. "Little Roy started to take me on the road with him, and I did that all of my high school career and college career. Then, when I was through with college, I moved to Nashville and I've been doing it on my own ever since."

The college time that Long refers to took place here in West Virginia as she was a part of the Glenville State College Bluegrass Music Certificate Scholarship Program led by music veteran Buddy Griffin.

"Buddy asked me to come and be kind of a starter on that and I did," said Long. "So, I was the first student in the bluegrass program, and we've got it going great. There are a lot of students there now."

Her latest album is called "Lizzy Long and Little Roy Lewis -- Front Porch Pickin'." Her previous album was titled "Little Roy Lewis, Earl Scruggs, and Lizzy Long -- Lifetimes," so she is playing and recording with some true legends these days. Other mentors for Long over the years have included Buddy Spicher and Mac Wiseman.

"I'll tell you, it's kind of breathtaking," said Long. "I've had my share of sacrifices with it all, but I wouldn't trade anything for it. They have always backed me up and they've always had a lot of trust and faith in me. How much more can you ask for than Little Roy Lewis and Earl Scruggs to say, 'We believe in her, and we're going to stand behind her'."

The rest of Long's band includes Al McCall, Rickey Rakestraw and her twin sister Rebekah on bass. Also joining Long tonight will be Glouster, Ohio, native Megan Murphy on mandolin, another former student of the Glenville State bluegrass program who plays with her own band called Yankee Bluegrass.

"I just want to entertain folks the best I know how and make them happy," said Long. "If I can see a smile on somebody's face, that's great. And, I want to be Lizzy Long while I'm doing it. I don't want to be anybody else."

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