The Virginia Squires get together once more

The Virginia SquiresFans of the Virginia Squires will be pleased to know that Rickie and Ronnie Simpkins, Sammy Shelor and Mark Newton will share a stage once more. The bluegrass bad boys from the ’90s are set to ride again – for one show at least.

Eagle-eyed observers who use social media may have spotted Newton’s recent announcement that will excite fans of the Virginia Squires and others …

“Over the years, folks have asked if the Virginia Squires would ever get together for a performance. I’m excited to announce on behalf of Rickie and Ronnie Simpkins, Sammy Shelor and myself we’re going to perform together on stage for the first time in 14 years at the 25th Anniversary Graves Mountain Festival of Music on Saturday, June 3, 2017.”

So what prompted this reunion?

Mark Newton had this to say about the last time that the quartet appeared together ..

“I’m not really sure but, I think it was at a smaller festival around 14 years or so ago, at a festival a friend of the band’s put on called Mr. B’s in Ladysmith, Virginia. He was a fan.”

There has been a private get-together ….

“I had some health issues four years ago and had some of my music buddies got together in my hometown of Fredericksburg, Virginia; the Virginia Squires played” a few tunes. I’m grateful for that but it was more of a private affair.”

Now for an indication of what attendees of the Graves Mountain Festival of Music can expect ……………..

“This performance will be a full fledge presentation with how we used to perform throughout the 1980s.

Graves Mountain Festival means a lot to us. We played it back when it first started in 1993 and a number of years after that. The region in which the festival is held in Syria, Virginia, and surrounding areas, is where we really made our mark when we got together. We were based out of Richmond, Virginia. So, Washington, DC., is 90 miles away; Richmond, Virginia, is 65 miles; Fredericksburg, Virginia, 50 miles; Charlottesville, Virginia, 38 miles; and Winchester, Virginia, 60 miles. All those areas were important market areas to the success of the group, and these areas are close to Graves. Since next year will be the 25th Anniversary of Graves Mountain Festival of Music it seemed to feel right, and in order to make this happen we hired the Lonesome River Band (Sammy Shelor), the Seldom Scene (Ronnie and Rickie Simpkins) that day and myself who is a founding member of the festival along with the Graves family it felt like it would a great thing to do. I am now speaking with the guys; they’re really excited. It’s like riding a bike. That material and feel for the music never leaves you. We were in our 20s back then, now we’re in our 50s and in some cases pushing 60. LOL. We’re like brothers. That spirit never goes away. We’re excited with bringing our music to the stage and seeing so many friends and fans.

There have been some discussions over the years about playing other festival dates but it never really got out of the gate, if you know what I mean. The four of us have commitments to our respective bands and businesses and it just makes it hard to co-ordinate it. The first thing the promoter would have to do is hire the Lonesome River Band, The Seldom Scene and myself and honestly it requires us getting together to rehearse. Which we committed to for Graves next year. The logistical challenge is difficult, I live in Nashville, Tennessee, Ronnie in northern Virginia, outside of DC, Rickie lives in Maryland, and Sammy in Stuart, Virginia, so you can imagine trying to schedule and coordinate rehearsals. Plus, it’s a financial commitment from the promoter to hire the bands and us and its challenging budget-wise in many cases for them.”

The Virginia Squires will play on Saturday, June 3, 2017, playing one 75-minute set from 6:25 pm to 7:40 pm.

So, to make plans to attend the 25th Anniversary Graves Mountain Festival of Music (Rt. 670 Syria, Virginia 22743) call 1-540-923-4231 or E-mail Tricia Graves


“It’s not too early to call now and make plans”, urges Newton.

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About the Author

Richard Thompson

Richard F. Thompson is a long-standing free-lance writer specialising in bluegrass music topics. A two-time Editor of British Bluegrass News, he has been seriously interested in bluegrass music since about 1970. As well as contributing to that magazine, he has, in the past 30 plus years, had articles published by Country Music World, International Country Music News, Country Music People, Bluegrass Unlimited, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass music journal) and Bluegrass Europe. He wrote the annotated series I'm On My Way Back To Old Kentucky, a daily memorial to Bill Monroe that culminated with an acknowledgement of what would have been his 100th birthday, on September 13, 2011.