CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The free GoodNight event sponsored by the Charleston Community Music Association is a New Year's Eve staple. Each year, from 6 to roughly 10 p.m., a few thousand people gather in a dozen venues throughout downtown to ring in the New Year with a number of local performers.
This year, there are nearly 30 acts, which will perform programs lasting approximately 45 minutes each. Among them are newcomers Dell Allen, the Craig Hinchman Trio, the David Lloyd Trio and Jonathan Tucker, who will perform with GoodNight staple Mark Scarpelli. Allen, who moved back to West Virginia from Louisiana earlier this year, is the brother of Rev. Jimmie McKnight, who is also performing.
Also on tap are ever-popular groups like The O'Daugherty Family Singers, who have been with GoodNight since it started 18 years ago, the Martin Luther King Jr. Male Chorus and the Appalachian Children's Chorus. The latter two groups are at a new venue for them: First Presbyterian Church.
"It's important to look and see where your favorite group will be because they're not always in the same place," said Alice Anne Robertson, who is in her second year as the event's chairperson.
New to the venue list this year is the chapel at St. Mark's United Methodist. (Performers will be in the sanctuary as well.) City trolleys will make continuous loops to all the locations beginning at 6 p.m. Rides, like everything else involving GoodNight, are free.
Robertson said she starts preparing for GoodNight in March, making sure all the venues are secured. Then, she begins calling all the musicians.
"It's amazing how many people have participated for years," she said. "You make the call and they say, 'Yes, we'll do it again this year.' They're happy to be part of it.
"They're the best of the best," she added.
For Robertson, the acts at the top of her list each year are ones she hasn't seen before. To that extent, 2011 was a very busy GoodNight for her since there were 10 new acts. She and her daughter, Susan, managed to see eight of them.
"We'd go to the first 15 minutes of one, drive and get to see the last 15 minutes of another group," she said. "Each hour block, we were able to see two groups."
This year, at the top of her list is Jennie Allinder, Jim Mullins and Friends, who went by Turkey Creek Celidh last year. "I have not heard them before, but I have heard so many wonderful things about them."
Robertson said GoodNight is a wonderful gift for the city of Charleston.
"For family and friends, it's just a wonderful way to spend a New Year's Eve. You have great entertainment, and it's a wonderful opportunity to share a good time, alcohol-free."
This year's GoodNight schedule is:
Baptist Temple, 209 Morris St.
6 and 8 p.m.: Presby Pickers (Appalachian/old-time gospel)
7 and 9 p.m.: Appalachian Celtic Consort (music of the British Isles)
Capitol Center Theater, 123 Summers St.
6 p.m.: Mountain State Brass Band (traditional British brass band)
7 p.m.: B-Ties Dixieland Band (Dixieland favorites)
8 p.m.: Charleston Metro Band (traditional show tunes and marches)
9 p.m.: Gospel Brass Band (variety of music with gospel theme)
Civic Center Little Theater
6 and 8 p.m.: River City Youth Ballet Ensemble
7 p.m.: The Rev. Jimmie McKnight (gospel)
9 p.m.: Dell Allen (smooth cool groove)
Christ Church United Methodist, 1221 Quarrier St.
6 and 8 p.m.: womanSong (seasonal favorites, folk and pop)