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American Heritage Music Hall

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Best jams cooked up weekly in Greenbrier County

By BETH GORCZYCA RYAN bryan@statejournal.com

RONCEVERTE — Some of the best jams in the state are in Greenbrier County.

But don't expect to find berries in these jams.

Every Tuesday night and the fourth Saturday of each month, musicians and lovers of live music alike gather at the American Heritage Music Hall in Ronceverte to enjoy jam sessions featuring bluegrass, folk and country music.

The purpose of the AHMH, as it is known, is to promote live music heritage at its location at 315 Monroe Ave. The jams start at 7 p.m. and run through 10:30 or 11 p.m.

Music Hall proprietors Jeannie Crane and Charlie Massie unofficially started the music hall more than a dozen years ago in Crane's family room. 

"We retired at the same time as some of the other people we know who play music also retired. We said we need a place to get together and jam," she said. "My house has a family room that is 24-feet by 36-feet, and that was designated as a place to jam."

But the jam sessions quickly grew as friends brought other friends, who then brought more friends.

"We about blew out the walls," Crane chuckled.

Soon, Crane and Massie, who both live in Lewisburg, started looked for a larger place to host the weekly jam sessions. They reached out to a friend who owned a shopping complex in Fairlea to see if he knew of anywhere they could gather, preferably for free. He eventually let them gather in a building that had been an old pet store. They played there for more than six years, gaining an increasing number of followers each year.

But after six years, the landlord told them he needed the building back for other uses. So Massie and Crane either had to find a new home for the jam sessions or quit the event

"We contemplated our ages and thought, ‘We don't need to do this.' But our audience family — and that is what they are, a family — wouldn't let us quit. They'd call and want to know when we would get them a new home."

Crane and Massie obliged and, after looking at 32 different places, found an old roller skating rink at 315 Monroe Ave. in Ronceverte that was perfect. 

"We went from 800 square feet to 7,500 square feet. We end up filling it every night," she said, explaining that the weekly Tuesday night sessions are open jams while the fourth Saturday night of each month has a featured band. 

Admission to AHMH is $7 on Tuesday nights and $10 on Saturdays. The money raised through admission helps to pay for overhead of the building, which the AHMH eventually bought, as well as pay the Saturday night bands. Musicians who perform on Tuesday do so for free.