EAST DIXFIELD – Dennis Wright, banjo player, and Wright’s Orchestra of North Jay will be remembered this weekend at the Countryfolk Music Theatre as banjos and bagpipes are featured.

The Maine Countryfolk Music Theatre, Route 2, will host its sixth annual Musician’s Recognition Day, called, “Banjos to Bagpipes,” from noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, July 17.

The Countryfolk Youth Music Scholarship Awards of $500 and $1,000 will be given to deserving young musicians. The money is raised through donations during the summer. Countryfolk projects are free and open to the public.

“Scholarships this year will be given in honor and memory of Dennis Wright and Wright’s Orchestra,” said Larry Bisbee.

The orchestra was formed in the 1930s. Eight out of nine Wright family members were musicians and played in the group. Phil Wright, fiddler, the only surviving member of the band, joined the orchestra when he was 13. Family members who played in the orchestra were Dennis, Silas, Ruth, Clarence, Vinton, Phil, Jeanette and Donnie. Other members over the years included Rhoda Sabin and Helen Davenport.

For 54 years Wright’s Orchestra played dance halls and entertained families with “old fashion” dance music throughout Franklin, Oxford and Androscoggin counties. A highlight was in 1988 when they played New Year’s Eve Portland.

Ruth Wright several years ago summed up the family feeling, “Music has been one of the most important things in life to us. I think we would rather die than go without it. To us, it is like the language of the soul.”

Linda (Wright) Latham, daughter of Dennis and Lillian (also a vocalist) Wright is the publicist for the Countryfolk Music Theatre. Bisbee said, “and it’s very fitting that we honor her dad, his music and a wonderful family of musicians.” Countryfolk each year honors musicians of the past by awarding scholarships to young musicians of the future.

The free event has a variety of country, folk, gospel and bluegrass music played by 20 to 40 volunteer musicians. It is a day to honor them with a potluck meal (bring a favorite dish to share) and six hours of music on two covered stages. There is also a dance floor in the new covered spectator area.

The Countryfolk Project offers new and seasoned musicians and songwriters a venue to showcase their talent.

Bagpipers will also perform. A special guest, George Worthley Jr., formerly of Farmington, will play the bagpipes and perform on stage while the musicians are honored and served a meal.

Spectators are invited to bring chairs, potluck food, friends and family. For more information, call Bisbee at 645-4875.


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