PRESTONSBURG – The Mountain Arts Center (MAC) is one of Eastern Kentucky’s premier places for entertainment. The passion project of Miss Billie Jean Osborne, the MAC is home to the Kentucky Opry and the Kentucky Opry Jr. Pros. Countless entertainers such as Loretta Lynn, Ralph Stanley and Melvin Goins have graced the stage with their distinctly southern music.
The Opry is a venue to attract the great country music artist of our time, but also to showcase up and coming new artist from Eastern Kentucky. Billie Jean was a band director for the Floyd County School System for many years. She witnessed the talent, drive and determination of the people of Eastern Kentucky. One event that allows anyone the opportunity to grace the stage just as famous music artist have done before them is the event Front Porch Pickin’.
The Bryant family of Martin, Ky. is a regular at Front Porch Pickin’. Randy Bryant, a Code Enforcement Officer for Floyd County performs with his daughters Meghan and Emily as Jill Dotson, mom sits front row center stage to cheer on her favorite music artist. Randy plays the bluegrass banjo, and has instilled an appreciation of southern bluegrass in both his daughters.
“We play mostly old-time music. We love the southern banjo. I think it is important to play this old-time music, because the music and lyrics are part of our heritage,” said Meghan Bryant.
Meghan is 16 years old and began playing the fiddle at age seven. She joined the Kentucky Opry Jr. Pros at age eight as a fiddler and the Jr. Pro’s Band at age 13. Joining the main Kentucky Opry in 2015 at age 15, Meghan plays the fiddle, guitar, mandolin, and piano. Meghan credits her father, and music teachers Jessie and Jamie Wells as three of her biggest musical influences.
Little sister Emily Bryant is not staying in the shadows of her older sister. Emily started playing the banjo at age seven. Unlike her sister, Emily is a singer. In 2015 she joined the Kentucky Jr. Pro Band as a banjo player.
Front Porch Pickin’ is a fun open mic night, where anyone who wants to be a star can shine in the spotlight. Front Porch Pickin’ kicked off the spring season on Saturday, March fifth and will also Friday, April first, and Friday, May 13 at 7 p.m. Front Porch Pickin’ is every Friday night during the summer at 7 p.m. Admission is free, so bring the entire family, even your grouchy uncle, it’s sure to put a smile on his face.
Andrea Saddler is a reporter for The Floyd County Times. She can be reached at 606-794-0290.