Music at the Mill will feature Frog Level Philharmonic

Sept. 14 event promotes the Francis Mill's history
Sep 11, 2013
Photo by: Stina Sieg The Frog Level Philharmonic has become a staple at musical events in recent years. Band members Otis Sizemore, left, and Mark Raines play at a previous Music at the Mill.

The Frog Level Philharmonic will be featured at Francis Farms' Music at the Mill, held from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 14.

Music at the Mill was first pioneered in 2006 as a successful bluegrass and barbecue festival at the 1887 Francis mill site. The festival grew and the tradition continues this year at the eighth annual event, which will feature a variety of music from not only The Frog Level Philharmonic but also Whitewater Bluegrass Co. and Hill Country Band.

The original Frog Level Philharmonic was formed by a group from Grace Church in the Mountains, located in Waynesville. Charles Alley, a parishioner at Grace and a native of Waynesville, was approached to organize a band to provide music for a fundraising dinner in 2005. Alley chose the name "Frog Level Philharmonic" based on the area of Waynesville bounded by the Richland Creek and railroad tracks — a community that has had a changeable history as a part of Waynesville.

"From the beginning, we wanted to play music of the Dixieland era and have fun doing it," said Alley, leader and founder. "Most of the songs we play are unfamiliar to people under the age of 50, but they seem to love such songs as 'Basin Street Blues,' 'Do You Know what it Means to Miss New Orleans,' 'Tin Roof Blues' and 'When the Saints Go Marching In.' When we get hot, it seems like the best combination of a stampede and a riot, only nobody gets hurt!"

Only four members of the original band remain actively involved: Alley, Jerry Donahoe, Jim Juhnke and Otis Sizemore. Two former members, Harriet Robbins, who played piano, and Mike Leone, who played trumpet, are deceased.

In addition to Alley on clarinet, present members include Sizemore, Juhnke, Donahoe, Pat Stone, Mary Thomas, Mark Raines, and Jim Boyer.

Advance tickets for Music at the Mill are $7 and are available at Elements Salon in Waynesville or Mountain Dreams Realty in Maggie Valley, or by calling 456-6307. All proceeds from the event go to the continuing preservation of the Francis Mill and educational and heritage programs.

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