PARKERSBURG - Local musician Johnny Staats brought together a mixture of new and traditional bluegrass and gospel music Friday night at West Virginia University at Parkersburg.
The concert by Johnny Staats and The Delivery Boys was part of the sesquicentennial celebration held throughout April by the college, with support from the West Virginia Sesquicentennial Commission.
"It's good to be back. I've played here before and it's always good to be back," he said Friday of the WVU-P performance. "I've got a bunch of new music to put out tonight."
Photo by?Jeff Baughan
Johnny Staats, left, with band members Roger Bissell, center, and David Vaughn perform with other members Ray Cossin and Butch Osborne at WVU-P Friday.
Nearly 200 people turned out for the concert in the WVU-P activity center as Staats and his band performed a series of traditional songs and original music written by himself and friends over the years.
Staats has long been known for his mandolin-play abilities. He released his first album, "Wires and Wood," in 2000 and its success saw him featured in print and on television.
He has played at the Grand Ole Opry several times over the years.
* Following Friday night's concert, WVU-P will host one more program as part of its Sesquicentennial Series.
* The final event will be a poetry reading by West Virginia Poet Laureate Marc Harshman at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the college theater. The event is free and open to the public.
* Harshman was appointed as West Virginia's poet laureate on May 18, 2012, by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, following the death of Irene McKinney, who had served in the post since 1994.
* Harshman, who lives in Wheeling, began to write as a high school student and published his first book of poetry "Turning Out the Stones" in 1983.
* He is an author of children's books, including "A Little Excitement," "Only One Neighborhood," "Red Are the Apples," written with his wife, Cheryl, and "The Storm," named a Smithsonian National Book for Children.
* During his Parkersburg residency, Harshman will present programs for elementary school students from the college education department's partnership schools.
A longtime Sandyville resident, Staats said his musical interests and influences are rooted in his family. His father, John, began teaching him to play mandolin at an early age and all of his family played instruments of one kind or another.
John Staats died in 2011 but continues to have an influence on his son and his music.
That family influence is a big part of his latest CD, which he completed and published at the start of 2013. Titled "Time Moves On," Staats said the title song is an original gospel song written by his father.
Most of the bluegrass and gospel songs on the CD were written by Staats along with friends.
"I divvied it up. Half of it's pickin' - instrumentals - and the other half is gospel and then the other half is gospel," he said with a smile.
"I wanted to give it a variety. I think it has a lot to offer, especially the song my dad wrote, 'Time Moves On.' It's got a lot of truth to it and a lot of truth to the words," he said.
Staats and the band worked for about eight months on the CD, fitting in music time around their everyday jobs - such as Staats' work as a UPS driver -and musical performances at fairs, festival and other venues.
With the arrival of spring and coming of summer, Staats said the group will be out on the road performing a lot more through this year as they enter their busy season.
Along with Staats, the Delivery Boys features David Vaughn on guitar, Roger Bissell on bass guitar, Butch Osborne on banjo and Ray Cossin on fiddle.