By Dan Schultz and Traveling 219.
It’s Saturday night and the dance floor of the American Heritage Music Hall is crowded with couples swinging, stepping, and shaking to live country and rock ‘n’ roll music.
The music hall is spacious and makes a perfect venue for live music. Its walls are strewn with banjos, guitars, and photographs of early country music stars.
A lot of the folks in attendance are regulars, like Marjorie Hamrick, from White Sulphur Springs. "I’ve been coming to the music hall, probably about 10 years. I love the people, and the dancing, and the music.”
Charlie Massie founded the American Heritage Music Hall back in 1998. “We started, Jeannie Crane and I and Fred Bolt. The three of us started jamming in her family room, my basement, and Fred’s garage. We kept inviting musicians in, and we outgrew our basements and family room,” Charley remembers.
Tonight’s band is Nashville Departure, from up the road in Alderson, West Virginia. At set-break everyone in the venue grabs a seat at a table or files to the back, where a potluck dinner of pastas, pizza, and salad is served.
Randy Goodson sings and plays guitar and keyboards with the band. After Music Hall co-founder Jeannie Crane passed away in 2013 Randy was asked to become vice president of the organization.
“We’ve had this place packed. It’s a lot of fun,” says Randy.
Despite the older makeup of the crowd here, the music hall still draws lively crowds. In a way, Charlie and the music hall organization are looking to Randy and his wife Renee to continue the tradition of the venue and possibly help inject new life into it, too.
“The people here are just really nice. It’s so family oriented, it’s like one big family."