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DOWN theROAD THE MAGAZINE OF THE BLUE RIDGE MUSIC TRAILS

SHELBY HONORS NATIVE SON EARL SCRUGGS MERLEFEST TURNS 30 A conversation with legendary fiddler

ARVIL FREEMAN Events au Locations


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CONTENTS

BLUE RIDGE MUSIC TRAILS OF NORTH CAROLINA Traditional music is flourishing across many parts of America, but in the mountains and foothills of North Carolina, more so than elsewhere, the music is part of the fabric of community life.

ON THE COVER:

Music traditions continue to be handed down in families and communities; at the same time, musicians are moving here from other parts of the country to be at the heart of these wonderful traditions.

For almost a half-century, the Mount Airy Fiddlers Convention has attracted performers and music fans from around the globe, all coming together to celebrate a common love and appreciation for bluegrass and mountain music. HOBART JONES PHOTO

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N.C. Arts Council Executive Director Wayne Martin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Blue Ridge National Heritage Area ............................. Executive Director Angie Chandler Legendary fiddler/instructor Arvil Freeman receives N.C. Heritage Award

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Shelby rallies around the Earl Scruggs Center . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . How Tommy Jarrell and the Earle Theater changed Surry County . . . . . . . . WNCW remains a vital platform for independent music . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Stecoah Valley Center a haven for artisans and musicians . . . . . . . . . . . . After 30 years, MerleFest stands atop the festival scene . . . . . . . . . . . . Taking Appalachian music around the globe with David Holt . . . . . . . . . . . The legend of Lesley Riddle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Junior Appalachian Musicians connect generations throughout NC . . . . . . . Venues, jam sessions and festivals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

You’ll find lots of folks making music— from seasoned, master musicians and enormously talented youngsters to exuberant beginners and dedicated back porch pickers. Most importantly, the music here is to be shared. Opportunities to listen in and to join in are plentiful.

THE PROJECT The Blue Ridge Music Trails of North Carolina is an initiative led by the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area Partnership, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and the North Carolina Arts Council, a division of the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources. Many, many partners across Western North Carolina — arts councils, tourism agencies, music venues, event organizers, musicians, and dancers — are participating in the effort. This website is operated by the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area Partnership.

The Blue Ridge National Heritage Area’s “Down the Road” magazine is produced in collaboration with The Smoky Mountain News. © 2018 SMOKY MOUNTAIN NEWS PUBLISHER · Scott McLeod info@smokymountainnews.com

GENERAL MANAGER · Greg Boothroyd greg@smokymountainnews.com

ADVERTISING · Hylah Birenbaum hylah@smlliv.com

IN PARTNERSHIP WITH:

ART DIRECTOR · Micah McClure micah@smokymountainnews.com

WRITING · Garret K. Woodward garret@smokymountainnews.com

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WELCOME O

ne doesn’t have to dig very deeply to realize that music is at the heart of everyday life in North Carolina. In all corners of the state, people come together to make and experience music with their family, friends, and neighbors. Many of America’s original music genres that have been embraced by people throughout the world — including blues, bluegrass, country, funk, gospel, hip-hop, jazz, R&B, rock, and soul — have been shaped or deeply influenced by musicians from North Carolina. Western North Carolina enjoys a national reputation as a hotbed for banjo-picking, fiddling, folksong, and traditional dancing. In the 1990s, the North Carolina Arts Council launched the Blue Ridge Music Trails to showcase the region’s distinctive artists and traditions that attract visitors from around the world. Our Blue Ridge Music Trails guide travelers seeking authentic experiences to the very heart and soul of Western North Carolina’s cultural traditions. As you travel along the Blue Ridge Music Trails, I invite you to reflect on some of the reasons that the region’s music traditions are unique:

embraced and emulated by musicians around the world, especially at the Mount Airy Fiddlers’ Convention, an annual gathering place for thousands of young musicians.

• No other place has had more influence on the development of the banjo in America. Earl Scruggs, Charlie Poole and Snuffy Jenkins are among the many banjo players from the region that are recognized as the creators and popularizers of American banjo styles.

Wayne Martin

• Clogging is one the most highly-developed vernacular dance traditions in the country; Haywood County is where team square dancing first originated in the 1930s. • The fiddle and banjo ensemble tradition that developed in Surry County’s Round Peak community is

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• One of the longest, unbroken ballad singing traditions in America is found in Madison County. Madison County singers continue to perform unaccompanied ballads, including some brought from the British Isles by early settlers.

• The Mountain Dance and Folk Festival, started in Asheville by Bascom Lamar Lunsford in 1928, is the oldest continuous folk festival in the United States and is the model for the National Folk Festival. Enjoy your travels and join me in celebrating the people of Western North Carolina, who play and pass down their extraordinary music traditions! Wayne Martin Executive Director, North Carolina Arts Council

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FROM THE DIRECTOR T

he Blue Ridge Mountains have been a fertile ground for European, African American and Cherokee sounds that have met and mingled for hundreds of years. In these mountain coves, among these rolling foothills of Western North Carolina, come the sounds of fiddle, banjo, guitar, and mandolin — homegrown sounds that have shaped American music. The Blue Ridge Music Trails invite people to return to the source to hear and enjoy these living traditions in 29 counties of Western North Carolina, from Brasstown to Mount Airy, from Shelby to Sparta and scenic places in between. Traditional mountain music features the old-time sounds of string bands and the high energy of bluegrass. Cloggers kick up their heels on mountain stages. You can follow the callers of street dances in our historic small towns. In our mountains, ballads have been passed down from generation to generation, “kneeto-knee” on front porches with haunting verses that date back centuries to Ireland and Scotland. And across the region, you can hear sacred music from shaped note singing to hymns sung in Cherokee to African American gospel. Music traditions continue to be handed down in families and communities; at the same time, musicians are moving here from

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other parts of the country to be at the heart of these wonderful traditions. You’ll find lots of folks making music — from seasoned,

music to the next generation. The Blue Ridge National Heritage Area is devoted to preserving our Appalachian culture, from tra-

(From left) Dale Neal, Communications Manager; Angie Chandler, Executive Director; Rob Bell, Senior Program Director; and Amy Hollifield, Volunteer Services Director. Not pictured, Dale Bartlett, Blue Ridge Music Trails coordinator, Laura Boosinger, consultant, Kathy Neall, finance manager.

master musicians and enormously talented youngsters to exuberant beginners and dedicated back porch pickers We relaunched the Blue Ridge Music Trails in 2013 to guide visitors and fans to where they could hear this music for themselves. We have given out more than 50 grants to create stages, exhibits and, new venues as well as supported school programs to pass on traditional

ditional music to arts and crafts, our foodways and our abundant outdoors, and we honor the living legacy of Cherokee traditions across our mountains. Please join us on this musical journey “Down the Road on the Blue Ridge Music Trails,” and we hope to see you along the way. Angie Chandler Executive Director Blue Ridge National Heritage Area

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Arvil Freeman at his home in Weaverville. GARRET K. WOODWARD PHOTO

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THE SPARK OF A THOUSAND FIRES Fiddler/teacher Arvil Freeman wins N.C. Heritage Award

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eading west on Interstate 26, the bright lights and tall buildings of Asheville quickly fade into the rearview mirror. Pulling off the Weaverville exit, you suddenly find yourself in the hustle and bustle of a once quiet mountain town. A lot has changed for the small Buncombe County community, especially in recent decades, when seemingly the whole world wants to live and thrive in a place as beautiful as it is unique. But, in that same time, one thing

hasn’t changed in these parts. One thing has remained steadfast in Weaverville and Western North Carolina at-large, with a reputation as big as the surrounding mountains — the living legend that is Arvil Freeman. At 85 years old, Freeman is known worldwide for his distinct style of fiddle playing (described as a “longbow smoothness”), which straddles the fine line between mountain and bluegrass music. Born in the Paw Paw community of Madison

County, Freeman was an autodidact when it came to the fiddle, an instrument that has remained just as fascinating and alluring to him all these years later. And in that time, Freeman has shared melodic memories and moments with several icons of the music industry, though he’ll be the first to acknowledge that what meant the most to him were all those “millions of shows” on front porches and backdoor stages around the region. He’d play his

Freeman was a member of the Mountain Square Dance Team, which performed throughout the region.

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“It’s about keeping traditional music alive, which I’ve tried to do. You’ve got to be dedicated, and I’ve been very dedicated.” — ARVIL FREEMAN heart and soul out, regardless of the crowd size — all that mattered was the music and the people listening. Though he’s been performing for most of his life, he’s also become well regarded for his over 30 years of personal instruction, sparking the fire within thousands of fiddle players, many of whom have stood on some of the biggest stages in the world. This year, Freeman was named a recipient of the North Carolina Heritage Award, the highest honor in the state in terms of the arts and culture. A modest soul, Freeman was humbled by the news, with his sentiments continually directed back to all those students, all those eager faces ready to learn, who

looked up to Freeman as holding the keys to the eternal kingdom that is song and dance. In terms of mountain music, what’s the earliest you remember hearing it? Being around the old-time fiddle players. Living in Madison County, there wasn’t many fiddle players available then — at all — and the ones that were available couldn’t play anyways. [Laughs]. You couldn’t learn much from them. The old people when I was growing were very reluctant to show you anything, selfish. Nowadays, everybody wants to share it. All I ever heard was clawhammer [banjo], and there was very few of them around.

Why did you pursue it? I love the fiddle. I’m self-taught. I never took any lessons or [was] showed much of anything. So, my style of playing is pretty much me. Nobody else. I don’t play like anybody, and try not to. When you’re taking lessons, I show you my way of doing it, and the way it should be done. Then, you take it on your own to advance yourself and your style of playing. Don’t try to play like me because you’re not going to. No two fiddle players play alike. Why the fiddle? Why that instrument instead of something else? I never was really impressed much by

Freeman (center) as part of The Marc Pruett Band. JIM MCGUIRE PHOTO

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guitars, mandolins and banjos. I can play’em. I can play bass, which I hate, because it makes my fingers swollen. [Laughs]. But, to really be good, at anything, I concentrated solely on the fiddle. I’d sit and practice three or four hours a day. I honed my skills and learned it, working up arrangements when I got good enough to do that. Was there a moment when it transitioned into a career? Not really. [Doing radio shows] in Bristol, [Tennessee]. WCYB “Farm & Fun Time,” which I was on for over a year there. We were playing four or five nights a week. We’d get in at two or three o’clock in the morning. Rehearsal at the radio station was at 10 [a.m.] And then we did two shows, one at 12:05 [p.m.] and 1:15 [p.m.] Then we’d go hop into the car and take off again. So, that pretty well burned me out on working in a travelin’ band. So, I said I could do better than that, where I could just come home, work a job, and just play on the weekend. I worked at Ingles as a meat cutter for seven or eight years, then I would play five nights a week at Bill Stanley’s [Barbecue & Bluegrass in Asheville] for 14 years with the Marc Pruett Band. We had the same members over eight years. Then, we formed the 40 West Band, and that went on for about five years. I was working 40 hours a week and playing five nights a week. Are there any similarities between being a meat cutter and a fiddle player? Yep. There’s a lot of similarities. When you want to play fiddle, you want to play good — you want to play perfect. As a meat cutter, when you cut a piece of meat, you want to cut it perfect — it can’t be sloppy. What would be your definition of mountain music? Mountain music would depend on what area you’re in. Even Western North Carolina and Eastern North Carolina sound different. Eastern Tennessee. Kentucky. Virginia. Each state sounds different. Western North Carolina mountain music goes back to the old people that lived out in the country,

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Arvil Freeman’s impact on bluegrass music has been huge. It will continue to be heard and felt for many generations to come. The list of musicians Arvil has influenced is quite extensive, and it continues to grow. I, being one, can say his willingness to share his incredible knowledge has been a big part of not only my musical career, but my outlook on life. It was watching and listening to Arvil play the fiddle at Bill Stanley’s BBQ that put the fire inside of me to play. One of the most gifted fiddle players, and yet one of the most humble people I’ve had the pleasure to know. I’ve never seen Arvil when he didn’t have encouraging words to offer, a smile on his face, and a new fiddle tune he wanted to share. Thank you Arvil — for your talents, friendship, and inspiration. A welldeserved award for one of Western North Carolina’s true musical treasures. — Buddy Melton singer/fiddler for Balsam Range IBMA “Entertainer of the Year,” “Male Vocalist of the Year” [who’d] take out their guitars and sang, and some of them would have duets. When I was playing, I used to play a lot of square dances. Somebody had a great big ole house. They’d use the living room for a square dance on a Saturday night, as a community thing. And usually it was a guitar and a fiddle.

when — it’ll come back around to playing traditional. What you hear now on the radio is not traditional bluegrass. It’s between jazz and country, and the country [music] now is like the old pop singers, like [Frank] Sinatra and people like that. What goes around will come around, eventually. See, you can only go so far and stay within the boundaries of any kind of bluegrass. Bluegrass bands nowadays have a more Dixieland jazz sound, and it’ll come back around to where they’ll have more of a traditional sound. What does that mean to you, that literally thousands of musicians out there all point back to starting with lessons from you? The basics of playing is timing and rhythm. Timing is 90 percent of playing. I give them the basics. And then, they’re like a kid learning to walk. You crawl before you walk. And as they progress from “this level” to “that level,” things get more complicated in their playing as they go along. When I start’em, I teach them the simplest thing I can. And then, as they progress, I give them harder and harder stuff. That’s the only way you can do it. What does it mean to you when you see them onstage? What it means is that I’m doing my job, what I’m supposed to be doing. And I’m very happy. That’s what you call giving back to the community and the people. As a student, I can see them get better every week, which is rewarding.

You were recently named a recipient of the North Carolina Heritage Award… It means a lot. Certainly does, because that’s the highest award you can get in What is it about this area that makes it the state of North Carolina. I’ve learned such a hotbed for great music? Certain areas produce excellent musi- a lot in doing a lot of shows. Met some wonderful people that I’m very imcians, and Western North Carolina is pressed with, and learned a lot from one of’em. North Carolina produces them. As far as the award, I think it was more good musicians probably than solely on my teaching ability. It’s about any of the surrounding states, by far. keeping traditional music alive, which They don’t [want to leave the mounI’ve tried to do. You’ve got to be deditains]. cated, and I’ve been very dedicated. If Where is bluegrass today, and where’s it you get off on the right foot as a musician — from day one — then you’re going? I think eventually — and I don’t know going to go a long way.

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DON’T GET ABOVE YOUR RAISIN’ Earl Scruggs. JIM MCGUIRE PHOTO

Earl Scruggs Center transforms downtown Shelby “Innovator.” That’s the first word that comes to Emily Epley’s mind when asked about renowned banjo player Earl Scruggs. “While Earl was a great banjo player, that’s not why he’s famous, that’s not why he’s a legend,” she said. “It’s because of what he did with the banjo, how he played it a different way, Because of that, it really pushed the banjo to the forefront. And, of course, he played it very well.” Executive director of the Earl Scruggs Center in downtown Shelby, Epley oversees one of the

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premier museums of its kind in the Southeast. Dedicated to the legendary banjoist, the center is not only an ode to Scruggs and his revolutionary “three-finger style,” but also the history of where he came from, where he went, and what an enormous footprint of influence he left behind. “Many, many people came to the banjo because of Earl,” Epley said. “But, to be completely authentic, since that time there were people who were brought to the banjo because of Earl, but brought their own ideas — like Belá Fleck — and innovative styles that all directly con-

nect back to Earl.” In a biography on his website, Fleck credits Scruggs famous banjo work on the theme for “The Beverly Hillbillies” television show for prompting him to pick up the instrument. “It was like sparks going off in my head,” Fleck said of the tune. In the heart of Scruggs’ hometown, the facility is a melodic and economic beacon to a town once thought to have been forgotten by the 21st century, especially when sandwiched geographically by the booming economies of nearby Asheville and Charlotte.

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“In 2006, when we were trying to look at what we could do about creating a positive economic future for Shelby, we were told by a community researcher, ‘You’re going to see tumbleweeds rolling through downtown if you don’t do something,’” Epley said. “So, we looked at other small towns that had reinvented themselves. What did they do? And what can we do to bring back our downtown and greater Cleveland County?” And that answer to Shelby and the county’s economic woes lay right under their noses. They were home to two of American music’s most original names — Scruggs and country singer/songwriter Don Gibson.

“He just played music, with anyone and everyone. It’s the banjo and that three-finger style that helped to launch bluegrass music, but it’s much deeper than that.” — EMILY EPLEY “We have Don Gibson and Earl Scruggs, and nobody else has those two people that changed music,” Epley said. “Is there a way to take this history, that has basically been abandoned, and weave it together?” Between individual and corporate donors, endless fundraisers and grants, the community development committee raised millions. With the monies, they launched the Don Gibson Theatre in November 2009, with the Earl Scruggs Center officially opening its doors in January 2014. Both buildings just a few blocks from each other. Both proud symbols of two beloved musicians, though gone from this earth, but forever remembered each time a musician takes the stage of the theatre or wanders the extensive and intricate museum. “These buildings really represent the power of what we can do when we work together,” Epley said. “If more people worked together within their own communities, it’s amazing what you could and can create — look at what has been accomplished, look at what’s sustaining.” Beyond the countless shows held in the theatre, the center averages around 10,000 visitors a year, with every state and dozens of countries represented. The world loved Earl Scruggs, and continues to, as one and all find themselves at the doorstep of the center, eager to see and to hear the tale of Scruggs and how he forever changed the landscape of popular music. “Earl was just such an authentic and down-to-earth guy,” Epley said. “And knowing where he came from, knowing and having seen the homes that he lived in, that he grew up on a farm and helped work the farm, that he worked in a textile mill and played banjo on his breaks — he was the salt-of-theearth, and he carried that with him throughout his life.”

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BY THE NOTES: EARL SCRUGGS · 1924-2012 (aged 88) · KNOWN for his groundbreaking “Scruggs style” banjo playing (aka: “three-finger picking”) · 1945: joined Bill Monroe & The Bluegrass Boys, first appeared on the Grand Ole Opry. · 1948: formed Flatt & Scruggs with guitarist Lester Flatt, former bandmate with Scruggs in The Bluegrass Boys, which lasted until 1969. · 1949: released the iconic “Foggy Mountain Breakdown.” · 1962: “The Ballad of Jed Clampett” released, immortalized as the theme song of the television show “The Beverly Hillbillies.” · 1967: “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” featured in the film “Bonnie and Clyde.”

The Earl Scruggs Center in downtown Shelby.

Of all the stories from those who have come to the museum, one sticks out most for Epley. Shortly before the center opened, she received a message in the summer of 2013 from a man in Japan who wanted to see the exhibit before he and his group headed to the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) award showcase, now held every year in Raleigh. Though the center wasn’t open to the public yet, Epley felt honored by the request and made the visit possible, bringing together local musicians, southern cooking and several pieces of Earl Scruggs memorabilia available for viewing. “And when he arrived, it dawned on me who it was — Toshio Watanabe, founder of Bluegrass 45,” Epley smiled. “They were a groundbreaking bluegrass group from Japan in the early 1970s. And here he was in Shelby. We even have a letter in the exhibit he had sent Louise Scruggs (Earl’s wife), and he smiled when we showed it to him.” Walking around the center, you can feel the radiating pride in Epley about the long and uncertain road everyone involved has been on to put the town back on the map. It’s a justified sentiment, as seen by the troves of folks strolling downtown, poking their heads into the center,

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· 1968: Grammy Award for “Best Country Performance, Duo or Group/Vocal or Instrumental” for “Foggy Mountain Breakdown.” · 1985: Flatt & Scruggs inducted into Country Music Hall of Fame. · 1989: awarded a National Heritage Fellowship by the National Endowment for the Arts. · 1991: inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame. · 1993: awarded the National Medal of Arts. · 1998: Grammy Award for “Best Country Collaboration with Vocals” for “Same Old Train.” The Grammy Award for “Best Country Instrumental Performance.”

all curious as to the life of a man that remains a pillar of living, breathing history and creativity for Shelby and Cleveland County. “It’s about taking something that is real and authentic, and finding a way to share that with others in a real and authentic way,” Epley said. “Earl took this instrument that’s been around forever, which came to America as a gourd instrument from Africa. He wasn’t a bluegrass musician — he was a musician. He just played music, with anyone and everyone. It’s the banjo and that three-finger style that helped to launch bluegrass music, but it’s much deeper than that.”

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· 2001: inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. · 2001: Grammy Award for “Best Country Instrumental Performance” for “Foggy Mountain Breakdown.” · 2003: received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. · 2004: Grammy Award for “Best Country Instrumental Performance” for “Earl’s Breakdown.” · 2005: “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” selected by Library of Congress National Recording Registry as a work of unusual merit. · 2006: recipient of the Academy of Country Music “Cliffie Stone Icon Award.” · 2008: Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. · 2009: inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame. 21


Participants at the Mount Airy Fiddlers Convention. HOBART JONES PHOTO

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FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN The musical legacy and traditions of Surry County

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hough his name was Tommy Jarrell, the late fiddle legend could also be referred to as the “common denominator,” especially in terms of his deep and ongoing influence on the ever-expanding musical history of Surry County. “While preserving old-time and

and feel the music.” Though Jarrell passed away in 1985, his signature fiddle style captured the hearts of innumerable musicians and music lovers. An acclaimed multi-instrumentalist in her own right, Todd pointed to the Mount Airy Fiddlers Convention as melodic proof of Surry

Earle Theatre in Mount Airy. HOBART JONES PHOTO

bluegrass music is important, we should also focus on the present — the best way to preserve the music is to keep it alive,” said Marsha Todd. “Knowing where the music evolved from and the people who made it what it is today is a key factor in respecting the music. A term my dad, Richard Bowman, learned from Tommy is very fitting: ‘learn the tunes from warm hands.’ Learn the music from the people who play it now. Sit with those people, learn the music,

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County’s place as one of the music meccas of old-time, bluegrass and mountain music. “The convention is an experience much like the music it represents — hard to put into words, but leaves a mark on you that you will never forget,” Todd said. “You have some of the very best musicians attend this event, and then you have some that are just starting out. People come regardless of if they play an instrument or not. They just like the music. It’s an

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annual reunion among friends — new and old.” Now in its 47th year, the convention attracts fiddlers and the curious alike from all corners of the earth. It’s a one-of-a-kind setting and experience, as is the Earle Theatre in downtown Mount Airy. “[The Earle] features portraits and biographies of Surry County’s finest. Ralph Epperson, Tommy Jarrell and Clyde Johnson are just a few of the influential men on the wall,” Todd said. “It’s a very surreal moment to be a performer on the stage of the Earle and to look out and see all the portraits and musical history that has been within its walls.” An old-time music heritage hall, the 424-seat Earle was built in 1938 and has played host to the beloved WPAQ 740AM “Merry-Go-Round” live radio broadcast (launched in 1948 by Epperson), which features popular and up-and-coming old-time and bluegrass musicians weekly. “The Earle and WPAQ’s relationship is very important to our community, and to the survival and growth of traditional music,” said Tanya Jones, executive director of the Surry Arts Council, which owns and maintains the theatre. “People can’t find that experience and history just anywhere, and the ‘Merry-Go-Round’ is certainly a different experience. The musicians value it because it’s a place that the bluegrass icons played on, and the people are seeking something real — it’s something that we’ve always done, and will continue to do.” Jones also noted how the Fiddlers Convention remains a top priority for

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the arts council in the organization’s vast efforts in the preservation and perpetuation of the musical heritage of Western North Carolina. “The convention has become something so important to the identity of this town and county,” Jones said. “We’re not only focused on preserving the convention, but also expanding on the convention — for all of those regional, national and international folks coming here to play with our musicians.” That inclusiveness of the old-time and bluegrass music traditions is something Todd cherishes. “Music can whisk a person to a place in their mind that is invaluable. It creates a mood and a connection that sometimes cannot be explained in words,” Todd said. “For me, music is life. The old-time and bluegrass music that I have grown up with has been amazing. It’s the people who I play with and

The “Merry-Go-Round” at the Earle Theatre. HOBART JONES PHOTO

the people who show their support by coming to shows and events. It’s the friends and fellowship that are gained

“Music can whisk a person to a place in their mind that is invaluable. It creates a mood and a connection that sometimes cannot be explained in words.” — MARSHA TODD

and the experiences that come from the total music package.” And yet, through it all, the legacy of fiddler Tommy Jarrell stands atop this prideful and talented mountain of folks in and around Surry County. “Tommy Jarrell is the reason for all of this,” Jones said. “People came here and learned from Tommy. And when they left here they took his style with them. Then, when those folks gather, they know and recognize they’re playing it the way Tommy played it.”

BY THE NOTES: SURRY COUNTY · HOME TO TOMMY JARRELL (19011985), internationally-known fiddler and banjo player, who style was a combination of sliding ornamentation and unique use of syncopation. · SINCE 1948, local radio station WPAQ 740 AM has hosted the “Merry-GoRound,” a live weekly broadcast in the Earle Theatre, which was launched by Ralph Epperson. · STARTED IN 1972, the Mount Airy Fiddlers Convention attracts thousands of musicians from around the globe during its gathering each June at Veterans Memorial Park.

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WNCW radio host Scott Robertson. GARRET K. WOODWARD PHOTO

RIDING THE (AIR)WAVES WNCW finds footing, identity in the modern era of radio

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or the last three decades, radio station WNCW has not only become a melodic beacon for the music of Southern Appalachia, it has also become a haven for talented and independent musicians from across the country and around the globe. “The style of music we’re known for — roots, bluegrass, traditional, Americana — seems to be flourishing worldwide right now,” said Joe Kendrick, WNCW program and operations director. “It seems to be helping us in what we’re doing, and also the people coming into our region, who are interested and invested in

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these great forms of music.” Launched in 1989 on the campus of Isothermal Community College in Spindale, WNCW has become nationally and internationally known for its “no holds barred” approach to what it plays and when it plays it, something that has gone missing in the corporate radio landscape of the 21st century. “We’ve kind of made an art form of going against the grain,” Kendrick chuckled. “It’s the same approach that we’ve always taken — an organic mix of music that isn’t ‘handed down from on high.’ It’s chosen by the radio hosts and DJs who know what they

like that the audience will like, pushing music we feel is important. It’s more of a thing that the hosts can turn on a dime, take a request, and change the direction of their music mix at any given moment.” But Kendrick will be the first to say the road the station has taken hasn’t always been easy. “We’ve had plenty of bumps along the way, one of which was losing state funding some years ago,” Kendrick noted. “We’ve had some lean times, but now I think we’re in as good of a spot as we’ve ever been, with support from donors and other organizations. It’s all about

BLUE RIDGE MUSIC TRAILS


Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver. VICKI DAMERON PHOTO

WANT TO HEAR MORE? To promote our signature Blue Ridge Music Trails, the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area partnered with WNCW-FM to produce a podcast “Down the Road on The Blue Ridge Music Trails.”

“We’ve kind of made an art form of going against the grain.” — JOE KENDRICK making that connection, and making every moment special as to what people are listening to on the air. It’s about keeping all of the cultural fabric of the region at front and center at all times.” Kendrick spoke at-length about the vast and rich musical history of Western North Carolina, where places like Asheville are well known for landmark recordings, something also shared with nearby Charlotte and Bristol, Tennessee. It’s also about a keen sense of pride and respect for all the incredible talent that was born and raised — and proudly lived and thrived — in this region.

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“Western North Carolina has always been a hot spot of world-class talent,” Kendrick said. “A lot of these regional styles of music have persisted, just like a lot of truly local dialects and accents have persisted, where up here in the mountains, you can tell who is from what part of a county based of how they pronounce certain words. And over the years, that has continued to flourish just as the music has, with Americana being such a torchbearer of all these genres today.” Kendrick and his crew see the importance of their work in continuing to make WNCW a household name of quality and relevance, something that also applies to the ongoing appreciation and growth of the music they broadcast — every hour of every day. “The music resonates with people. It just has got electricity. It’s acoustic, but it’s galvanizing. It’s hard to not be moved by it, no matter where you’re from,” Kendrick said. “It’s a common heritage. It’s culturally relevant, and it has a history that needs to be preserved and remembered.” And though the music is what binds all of those within earshot, Kendrick also pointed to the sheer camaraderie that resides at the heart of it all. “It blows peoples’ minds when folks go to a place like MerleFest,” Kendrick said. “They go up to their heroes, finding out at the end of the conversation that they walk away with a new friend — now converted and deep into the music like the rest of us.”

WWW.BLUERIDGEMUSICNC.COM

Laura Boosinger, an accomplished musician herself and consultant for the Blue Ridge Music Trails, narrated a series of 30 podcasts exploring the region’s rich traditions in oldtime string music, bluegrass, early country music stars, Cherokee music, local blues styles, African American contributions, and sacred music with shaped note singing and African American gospel. Listen to how the father of country music Jimmie Rodgers got his start in Asheville or how Doc Watson didn’t let childhood blindness deter his talents, bringing his rich voice from Deep Gap in Watauga County to the world. The most popular episode to date, “Appalachian Settlers Brought Ancient Ballad Traditions,” explores how “song-catcher” Cecil Sharp traveled to Madison County, NC, in the early 20th century to record hundreds of songs that could be traced back to Great Britain. Along with WNCW producer Kim Clark, Laura is hard at work on a second season of podcasts looking at historical figures such as Tommy Jarrell and Clarence Ashley as well as our new N.C. Heritage Award winner Arvil Freeman. www.blueridgemusicnc.com/li sten-and-learn/down-the-road 29


WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA DISTINCTIONS IN TRADITIONAL MUSIC NO OTHER PLACE HAS had more influence on the development of the banjo in America. Musicians from the western Piedmont and mountain region, including Earl Scruggs (see story page 18), Charlie Poole, and Snuffy Jenkins, among many, are recognized as the creators and popularizers of modern banjo styles. THE FIDDLE AND BANJO ENSEMBLE tradition that developed in Surry County’s Round Peak community is embraced and emulated by young musicians around the world. The Mount Airy Fiddlers’ Convention (see storyt page 23) is now an annual gathering place for thousands of young musicians influenced by Round Peak musicians. TRADITIONAL DANCE EVOLVED over generations with music traditions and flat-footing. Clogging in Western North Carolina is recognized as one of the most highly-developed vernacular dance traditions in the country. Haywood County is where team square dancing first originated in the 1930s.

ONE OF THE LONGEST, unbroken ballad singing traditions in America is found in Madison County where singers were first documented by English folk song collector Cecil Sharp prior to World War I. The current generation of singers continues to perform a wide range of ballads, including some brought from the British Isles by early settlers. THE MOUNTAIN DANCE AND FOLK FESTIVAL, started in Asheville by Bascom Lamar Lunsford in 1928, is the oldest continuous folk festival in the United States and is the model for the National Folk Festival.

MERLEFEST, presented at Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro on the last weekend in April, is one of the nation’s largest and most influential “Americana” music events. It was founded in 1988 by Doc Watson in memory of his son Merle. (see story page 36)


WPAQ AM 740 IN MOUNT AIRY is the oldest live radio show that continues to program regional music from the Blue Ridge. The Merry Go Round program, which is broadcast live from the Downtown Cinema Theatre every Saturday, first signed on in 1948 and presents local old-time, bluegrass and gospel performers.

ALONG THE MUSIC TRAILS The Blue Ridge Music Trails are set in the majestic landscape of the North Carolina mountains and foothills, where you will find an abundance of great experiences: · Scenic drives with mountain views · Historic small towns · Invigorating hikes and nature walks · Hidden waterfalls · Handmade crafts

KEEP IN MIND

· Bustling farmers’ markets · Pit-cooked barbeque · Local beers and wines As you travel the Music Trails, you’ll also encounter a variety of music styles, including:

As you begin your journey, keep in mind that even though all the events listed occur on a regular basis, it is always best to verify the information before heading out. For the most upto-date information on venues and events, please visit BlueRidgeMusicNC.com. Happy Trails!

· The lonesome strains of old-time fiddling · The fiery rhythms of bluegrass music · The stately charm of blues guitar, Piedmont style · The unadorned power of shaped-note singing · The quiet intensity of age-old ballads


Balsam Range onstage at the Stecoah Valley Center. STECOAH VALLEY CENTER PHOTO

OVER THE HILLS AND FAR AWAY Music heritage comes alive at Stecoah Valley Center

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ay out in Graham County, high up in the rugged wilderness of the Nantahala National Forest, is a lonely stretch of N.C. 28. To the north lies Robbinsville, to the south the Swain County line. But where you’re standing, seemingly in the middle-of-nowhere, is actually the hottest ticket in Western North

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Carolina — “An Appalachian Evening” series at the Stecoah Valley Center. “What the series has meant to the center is keeping the Appalachian heritage alive — that’s been part of our mission,” said Beth Fields, executive director of the center. “I think that especially as remote as we are, to be able to offer that kind of artistic

quality on a consistent basis, it’s really important to the series, the community and visitors.” Coming into its third decade of existence, the series begins with some of the biggest names in bluegrass, old-time, mountain and Americana music. It’s a “who’s who,” with the likes of Balsam Range, The Steeldrivers, Doyle Lawson &

BLUE RIDGE MUSIC TRAILS


C owee School Arts & Heritage Center Kicking off the 2018 summer concert series

The Freighthoppers.

Quicksilver and Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen, amongst countless others, gracing the stage over the years. “What sets us apart from other venues is the venue itself,” Fields said. “It’s a very intimate setting. The bands interact with the audience. It’s very low key, and the sound quality in the auditorium is just phenomenal.” “‘An Appalachian Evening” has been an amazing platform to expose new people to mountain culture the right way,” added Darren Nicholson, mandolinist for 2014 IBMA “Entertainer of the Year” group Balsam Range. “Where better to hear the finest musicians these mountains have to offer than in one of the prettiest · SCHOOL OPENED in 1926, places on earth? We apclosed due to consolidation preciate all the hard work in 1994. the people at the Stecoah · REOPENED as an arts and Valley Center do to precultural center, offering serve our folk heritage in almost two-dozen every facet — it’s one show I look forward to every programs serving around year.” 10,000 people each year. At a capacity of just · DURING THE 1940s and around 300 people, the au1950s, bluegrass and ditorium has a history as country musicians graced long and varied as the list the auditorium stage. of musicians that stepped · PERFORMERS BACK THEN in front of the microphone. included Flatt & Scruggs, Though the original schoolhouse building was Bill Monroe, The Carter constructed in the 1926, Family, Chet Atkins, Bonnie the auditorium stage Lou & Buster, Elmer Jethro, played host to some of The Brewster Brothers, biggest names in blueMartha Carson, Carl Story, grass in the 1940s and and Archie Campbell. 1950s. Legendary acts like Bill Monroe & The Blue Grass Boys, The Carter Family, Flatt & Scruggs, Chet Atkins, and more, performed for locals and visitors alike. Due to district consolidation, the school was closed in 1994. It sat empty and abandoned for several years before

BY THE NOTES: STECOAH VALLEY CENTER

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WWW.BLUERIDGEMUSICNC.COM

• Painting lessons • Toy Museum • Art Galleries • Textiles and Weaving

• Geneology • Concerts • Eastern Band of Cherokee display • Pottery School

Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper May 19

Contra Dances March 10, May 12 July 28, & September 22

Franklin Area Folk Festival August 18

Cowee Christmas December 1

51 Cowee School Drive, Franklin | CoweeSchool.org | 828.349.1945

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Stecoah Valley Center.

‘AN APPALACHIAN EVENING’ For more information on the music series at the Stecoah Valley Center, go to www.stecoahvalleycenter.com. All concerts begin at 7:30 p.m. in the airconditioned Lynn L. Shields Auditorium. THE 2018 SERIES LINEUP IS AS FOLLOWS: · JUNE 23 - Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper · JUNE 30 - Fireside Collective · JULY 7 - Buncombe Turnpike · JULY 14 - Wayne Henderson & Helen White · JULY 21 - Snyder Family Band · JULY 28 - Salt and Light · AUG. 4 - Jeff Little Trio · AUG. 11 - Volume Five · AUG. 18 - Unspoken Tradition · AUG. 25 - The Kruger Brothers · AS WELL, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver will perform at the center during the Harvest Festival on Oct. 20. 34

the county took it over and launched the nonprofit organization that became the Stecoah Valley Arts Center. “We have this asset in the county, and it’s taken a long time to get to where we are today, but it’s a testament to who we are and what we do here,” Fields said. “I just love the people that come here. They’re so appreciative of us maintaining this place and keeping it going. The people that are donors and supporters, they want to support us so that we can make additional progress.” The 10-acre property is constantly evolving, with new ideas and projects being hatched and coming to fruition each and every year. “We’ve gotten a very large grant to connect the two buildings and create an outdoor Cherokee exhibit,” Fields explained. “It will be called the ‘Courtyard of the Cherokee,’ with native plants, a big deck, and we’ll be doing outdoor programming, classes and Cherokee performances. We’re also in talks currently on what to do with our 10,000square-foot gymnasium, so things are always in motion here.” When asked about what its like to

Jonah Riddle & The Carolina Express.

stand there and witness a sold-out bluegrass show in the auditorium, Fields took a moment to respond. “It kind of leaves you speechless,” she said. “That you know that the folks are truly enjoying themselves here. And the bands, they really love performing here, they really tap into that adrenaline of the audience.”

BLUE RIDGE MUSIC TRAILS


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WWW.BLUERIDGEMUSICNC.COM

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Mandolin Orange on the mainstage at MerleFest. WHITEBOX PHOTOGRAPHY PHOTO

SITTING ON TOP OF THE WORLD A world-renowned music festival, Wilkesboro’s Merlefest turns 30

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egarded as one of the premier music festivals anywhere in the country and abroad, MerleFest has never worried about getting bigger or more fashionable. They’ve only focused on the one thing that matters most — the people, on both sides of the microphone. “We focus on the quality of the

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event,” said MerleFest Executive Director Ted Hagaman. “It’s music driven, no doubt about that, where we want to make sure we put good, solid talent out there. But, we also want to focus on the little things. We want people to feel they’re getting value.” And that value comes in many different forms. Whether it’s a

marquee stage act (like Alison Krauss & Union Station, James Taylor, Dolly Parton, The Avett Brothers, Willie Nelson, amid the thousands of past performers), an up-and-coming group filled with a melodic fire, or simply learning a new song in one of the inclusive parking lot jam circles, there’s friends to be made and

BLUE RIDGE MUSIC TRAILS


adventures to be had in any direction. “We feel like we’re a little different compared to other festivals, we don’t focus on one or two genres of music — there’s something for everyone,” Hagaman said. Now entering its 30th year, MerleFest has always held true to the original intent of its late founder, Doc Watson. The legendary musician cherished the art of collaboration, of spontaneous pickin’ sessions and different combinations of artists, where the notion of the preservation of this music and its welcoming message always remains at the forefront.

didn’t survive or they had to cut back.” That survival — through thick-and-thin — comes from a keen awareness of not only knowing what the audiences expect, in terms of stage acts and site management, but also how each installment of MerleFest is another important chapter in the lives of those tens of thousands of attendees, volunteers and musicians each year. “For the musicians, they get to do something different, where anything goes, and anything is possible with whoever they find themselves onstage with,” Hagaman said.

BY THE NOTES: MERLEFEST · STARTED IN 1988 by the late Doc Watson, legendary singer/guitarist, in memory of his son, Merle, who passed away in a tragic farm tractor accident in 1985. · SERVES AS A KEY fundraising effort for Wilkes Community College, where the festival is held. · ATTENDANCE can exceed 75,000 throughout the weekend festival, making it one of the largest events of its kind in the country. · NOTABLE PERFORMERS over the years include Robert Plant, Alison Krauss, Zac Brown Band, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Dierks Bentley, Emmylou Harris, Elvis Costello, Linda Ronstadt, amid thousands of others.

Campground jam session at MerleFest. JIM GAVENUS PHOTO

“Doc would be pleased. And we keep a focus on that, in making sure that we keep his vision on what this festival is about,” Hagaman said. “It’s a good feeling from a standpoint of knowing that so many people do benefit from the efforts of all of those involved in the festival.” Hagaman looks at MerleFest and its fundraising efforts as a “win-win-win,” where the proceeds from the festival benefit Wilkes Community College (site of MerleFest), numerous local schools, and the community atlarge. “Our fans win, our college wins, and our community wins as well, because the community is so involved in this — all of the people who participate in this win,” Hagaman said. “There are a lot of festivals that went downhill when the economy went south. They either

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“And we’ll use over 4,000 volunteers during the year that are putting this thing together. It’s amazing to see how many people have been here every year and have been part of making this happen. It’s a part of their lives.” And even if the festival is one weekend annually, its impact is felt year-round. “We’re an educational institution. We raise money to educate people, and one of our jobs — or goals — is to make sure that we do maintain the heritage of the Appalachian region,” Hagaman said. “Every year, we do a school outreach program, where we take artists into 17 different schools in the county. We also take thousands of kids into the festival to have them experience everything. It’s important to keep our heritage out in front of people. We try to hold the traditions firm at MerleFest, and I think that’s why people come here.”

WWW.BLUERIDGEMUSICNC.COM

· ECONOMIC IMPACT is estimated to hover around $10 million annually. · 2018 PERFORMERS include headliners: Steep Canyon Rangers & Steve Martin, Kris Kristofferson, Belá Fleck & Abigail Washburn, Robert Earl Keen, Rhiannon Giddens, The Mavericks, Jerry Douglas & Tommy Emmanuel, Jamey Johnson, Sam Bush, The Devil Makes Three, Jim Lauderdale, and more. 37


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ROOTS OF YOUR DREAMS Weaverville native takes on Nashville

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t’s about 300 miles between Weaverville and Nashville. But, for rising country star Joe Lasher Jr., that distance is immediately bridged the moment he picks up his acoustic guitar. “Country music — even today’s country music — has grown from roots planted by famous North Carolina old-time and bluegrass artists like Earl Scruggs and Doc Watson,” Lasher said. “Today’s music is a direct result of yesterday’s music. Doc and Earl influenced later North Carolina artists like Charlie Daniels and Randy Travis, who influenced current artists like Eric Church and Asheville native, Luke Combs, who just had two chart topping hits and was nominated for ‘New Country Artist of the Year’ at the CMAs.” Lasher has made a name for himself with his brand of modern country that is a blend of catchy hooks atop a keen sense of songwriting. “I’m fortunate to come from an area where people still believe in honesty, integrity, patience, hard work, handshake deals, and Sunday chicken after church,” Lasher said. “Growing up in a family like mine, in a town like Weaverville, well, I just don’t know any different. And as I grow my business and build relationships in Nashville, I build them on those principles.” “My mountain music may not reflect the ‘roots’ of bluegrass, but it does reflect my mountain roots and — as a songwriter and an artist — that’s what means the most to me,” Lasher said. “These mountains have produced generation after generation of incred-

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Joe Lasher Jr. DUNCAN CHABOUDY PHOTO

ible talent,” Lasher said. “What I love to see is when a group of those musicians get together and form something magical that spreads across the globe. Bands like Steep Canyon Rangers and Balsam Range are two of many fine examples of that.” At just 21 years of age, Lasher already has had quite a successful career. But, the road from Weaverville to Nashville is just the start, with his eyes aimed for whatever opportunity lies just beyond the horizon. “My ultimate goal is to become a successful and influential country

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music artist and songwriter. I’ve earned a good living doing both over the last few years. But, in my mind, I have a long way to go,” Lasher said. “I’ve played hundreds of shows over the last five years. I’ve experienced rejection and disappointment countless times already. But, I believe in myself and I know that if I stay the course I will continue to move toward achieving my dreams — time and prayer, time and prayer.” To get to know Joe, follow him on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @joelasherjr.

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C

Amethyst Kia and David Holt.

BRINGING IT ALL BACK HOME ‘David Holt’s State of Music’ connects the generations 40

oming into its third season, “David Holt’s State of Music” has become a welcomed — and highly sought after — mainstay of PBS stations around Southern Appalachia and across the country. “We’re trying to reach out, to find those people that are somewhere in between notoriety and a down home performer,” Holt said. “Bringing more people to this music is what it comes down to.” The show focuses on well-known North Carolina groups (Balsam Range, Steep Canyon Rangers, Avett Brothers), performers (Rhiannon Giddens, Bryan Sutton, Dom Flemons) and, perhaps, more underground marvels from around the state (The Branchettes, Joe Newberry). The program also hops over the state line into Tennessee for memorable sitdowns with Doyle Lawson and Amythyst Kiah, as well as an upcoming appearance by Sam Bush. “We just want to inform people that, ‘Hey, there’s a lot out here,’” Holt said. “Some of the people it may be the first time you’ve heard of them, and others will be people that are known that’ll bring others to our show.” An Asheville-based old-time/bluegrass performer and musicologist, Holt is a melodic treasure in his own right. He won a Grammy for “Best Traditional Folk Recording” in 2002 for his album “Legacy,” which featured his long-time friend and collaborator, the late, legendary Doc Watson. “I think [the state of music in general] is really strong at this particular time,” Holt said. “There’s a generation of people like me who knew all the old guys — Tommy Jarrell and Doc Watson — and were friends with those people. And now we’re the oldtimers, so there’s still a very vi-

BLUE RIDGE MUSIC TRAILS


BY THE NOTES: DAVID HOLT · BORN 1946 · 1975: founded and directed the “Appalachian Music Program” at Warren Wilson College.

David Holt and The Steep Canyon Rangers. PBS.ORG PHOTO

brant relationship between the old-timers that maybe have gone on before, and they’re still influencing people a lot [today].” And though Holt goes into these interviews and interactions well-versed in the talents and personalities of his subjects, it never ceases to amaze him what else he uncovers. “Just how good people are, what excellent musicians, and thoughtful musicians,

trying to figure out who to have and where to go,” Holt said. “We’re really looking at the variety of roots music, expanding into that wider view.” Beyond the continued success of the program, Holt has also been surprised by where the show is most popular — urban areas. That notion could be directed to the simple fact that people everywhere are searching for something genuine and traditional, something that takes

“There’s a group of people that are really yearning for that, to have that feeling of ‘down home’ in the music and the people.” Holt is now 71, but he doesn’t show any signs of slowing down (as seen by his unrelenting touring and speaking schedule). However, he’ll be the first to acknowledge about the fate of the music he’s so passionate about once the torch is passed to the next generation.

“We have a really tough time choosing what to have on the show, and I’m heartened by the depth of knowledge these musicians have and the skill they have to put it across.” — DAVID HOLT and intelligent musicians that they are,” Holt said. “We have a really tough time choosing what to have on the show, and I’m heartened by the depth of knowledge these musicians have and the skill they have to put it across.” Holt noted that the “State of Music” is now in 85 percent of the PBS national coverage area. “It’s been a great journey,

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them away from the hustle and bustle of a frenetic urban existence. “[The show] has been picked up and shown at the most primetime spots in places like New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles. We would have thought it would be the more rural areas that would put it in primetime and play it a lot, but it’s been the more urban areas,” Holt said.

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“When my generation is gone, it’ll probably be quite a different type of music. But, there’s so much interest and there’s so much skill, it’s in great shape,” Holt said. “You can’t expect it to stay the same, and I don’t. You long for it in your own form of nostalgia. But, the reality is, it’s going to change, and as long as it’s changing in a positive way, that’s great.”

· 1984: Selected by Esquire magazine on its “Annual Register of Men and Women Who Are Changing America.” · 1993: University of North Carolina “Razor Walker Award.” · 1997: Grammy Award for “Best Spoken Word Album For Children” for “Stellaluna.” · 2000: Appeared in the film “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”. · 2003: Grammy Award for “Best Traditional Folk Album” for “Legacy” with Doc Watson. · 2007: Brown-Hudson Folklore Award. · THREE-TIME winner of Frets magazine’s “Best Old-Time Banjoist.” · HOLT’S SONGS and tales have been gathered as part of the permanent collection of the Library of Congress. · LONGTIME host of North Carolina PBS series “Folkways” · HOST of “David Holt’s State of Music.” 41


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THE HUMAN RECORDER How Lesley Riddle changed music forever

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hough you may have never heard of Lesley “Esley” Riddle (1905-1980), his fingerprints remain all over the foundation and cultivation of early 20th century American music. Hailing from Burnsville (Yancey County), Riddle crossed paths with A.P. Carter in the late 1920s in Bristol, Tennessee. Carter was in the midst of forming what would eventually become the Carter Family band (19271956), arguably the first mainstream act of modern American music, whose impact on the bluegrass, pop, country, rock and gospel genres is immeasurable. Riddle and Carter would constantly traverse the backroads and deep pockets of Southern Appalachia in search of melodies. They were “songcatchers,” gathering the old-time tunes passed down through the generations, perhaps even newer selections never before heard outside of a particular valley or cove. Carter would scribble down the lyrics, while Riddle would learn and remember the musical notes of each melody with a razor-sharp precision. “By teaching the Carter Family songs collected from African American musicians in Eastern Tennessee, Leslie Riddle helped create that dynamic musical stew that is mountain music,” renowned musicologist David Holt said. Throughout most of his life, Riddle never made any recordings of his own. But, during the folk revival of the 1960s, Mike Seeger tracked Riddle down and convinced him to play

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Brownie McGhee (left) and Lesley Riddle played together when both men lived in Kingsport, Tennessee. LESLEY RIDDLE FAMILY PHOTO AND COURTESY OF THE MOUNTAIN HERITAGE CENTER’S TRADITIONAL VOICES GROUP

again, this time with Riddle taking the stage at several prominent folk festivals, creating a resurgence of interest in not only what Riddle did, but also the continued growth of his influence. Seeger would go on to record Riddle

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on numerous occasions, which resulted in the 1993 album “Step By Step — Lesley Riddle Meets the Carter Family” (Rounder Records), which has become a staple in the world of folk, bluegrass and mountain music.

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During the summer, JAM offers a week-long camp with a focus on Appalachian music and tradition.

BRIDGING THE GAP Junior Appalachian Musicians finding success, growth

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ver nearly two decades, the Junior Appalachian Musicians (JAM) program has grown from a grassroots mission to a steadfast nonprofit organization with almost 30 locations that cross county and state lines around Southern Appalachia. Aimed at bringing musical instruments and instruction into the hands of kids in grades 4-8, each JAM program is independently funded and operated, with the organizational affiliation to JAM creating opportunities for resources and grants. Students are offered the program through affordable or reduced tuition based on need. Many of the JAM programs in North Carolina re-

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ceive support from the N.C. Arts Council through its Traditional Arts Program for Students (TAPS). Looking for ways to bring “positive activities to underserved youth,” JAM was created in 2000 by Helen White, who at that time was a guidance counselor at Sparta Elementary School (Alleghany County). And the increased reach of JAM has come from a combined effort by local schools, musicians and art councils looking for new and different ways to get children involved in the musical traditions of their hometowns and surrounding mountain communities. For many JAM programs, the students become immersed in the vibrant history of Appalachian music.

WWW.BLUERIDGEMUSICNC.COM

They take field trips to museums, go to live music concerts, and also invite well-known musicians into the classroom. This instruction will usually culminate at the end of each year with a special concert for parents and patrons. The students also take the stage at numerous festivals throughout the year in their respective counties. And it’s at these community events, while showing their musical improvement, where they find themselves rubbing shoulders with talented elders ready to share the melodic wisdom that’s been passed down through the generations. For more information on JAM or to donate to the organization, click on www.jamkids.org.

47


48

BLUE RIDGE MUSIC TRAILS


Blue Ridge Music Trails of North Carolina Our popular guidebook to Western North Carolina – where traditional music and dance are performed and cele ebrated as nowhere else in America – is revised v and now available. Includes a 26 track CD featuring    Av A vailable f rom m BlueRidgeMusicNC.com m and UNC Press s.

The N.C. Arts Counc cil and the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area pa artner to preserve and promote traditional music m in Western N.C.

DOWN THE ROAD

WWW.BLUERIDGEMUSICNC.COM

49


HAPPENINGS Festivals, Concert Series, Jam Sessions, Music Camp’s, Exhibits and more

YEAR ROUND

6

Alleghany Community Auditorium SPARTA BlueRidgeMusicNC.com

Concerts year round, visit website

Alleghany Jubilee SPARTA alleghanyjubilee.com Tuesdays 7 pm-10 pm, Saturdays 8 pm-11 pm

Appalachian Concerts, Lectures, Workshops & Films

Blue Ridge & Beyond Series MOUNT AIRY surryarts.org Concerts year round, visit website

Burnsville Town Center BURNSVILLE burnsvilletowncenter.com Concerts year round, visit website

Cherokee Heritage Days CHEROKEE cherokeemuseum.org 2nd Saturday each month 10 am-5 pm

City of Morganton Municipal Auditorium MORGANTON CoMMAOnline.org

Musicians sharing their passion at the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown.

Concerts year round, visit website

HENDERSONVILLE, ASHEVILLE saveculture.org

Crouse House Pickers Jam Session

Feed & Seed Music and Dance

Jimmy's Pick n Grin Music Hall

Events year round, visit website

SPARTA sparta-nc.com

FLETCHER feedandseednc.com

ANDREWS BlueRidgeMusicNC.com

Mondays, 6 pm

Friday & Saturday 7:30 pm-9:30 pm

Saturdays 7 pm-11 pm

Dances at the Todd Mercantile

Feed & Seed Bluegrass & Country Jam

John C. Campbell Folk School Concert Series

FLETCHER feedandseednc.com

BRASSTOWN folkschool.org

Diana Wortham Theatre

Mondays 6:30 pm-8:30 pm

Fridays, some Thursdays, 7 pm

ASHEVILLE dwtheatre.com

Highland Brewing Company

John Hartford Bluegrass Jam

ASHEVILLE highlandbrewing.com

ASHEVILLE wickedweedbrewing.com

Don Gibson Theatre

Concerts year round, visit website

Wednesdays 6:30 pm-9:30 pm

BLACK MOUNTAIN blackmountainarts.org

SHELBY dongibsontheater.com

J.E. Broyhill Civic Center CCCTI

Live Music at Ugly Dog Pub

Concerts year round, visit website

Concerts year round, visit website

LENOIR broyhillcenter.com

HIGHLANDS theuglydogpub.com

Blowing Rock Art & History Museum

Earl Scruggs Center: Music & Stories from the American South

Concerts year round, visit website

Bluegrass year round, visit website

Jam Sessions at the Barber Shop

Live Music at Woodlands Barbeque

SHELBY earlscruggscenter.org

DREXEL BlueRidgeMusicNC.com

BLOWING ROCK woodlandsbbq.com

Tuesday-Saturday 10 am-4 pm

Saturdays 11 am

Nightly 6 pm-8 pm, visit website

Ashe Civic Center WEST JEFFERSON ashecivic.com Concerts year round, visit website

Asheville Music Hall & The One Stop Deli ASHEVILLE ashevillemusichall.com Concerts year round, visit website

Black Mountain Center for the Arts

BLOWING ROCK blowingrockmuseum.org Traditional Music events year round, visit website

50

TODD toddmercantile.com Once each month, 6 pm, visit website

Concerts year round, visit website

BLUE RIDGE MUSIC TRAILS


Madison County Arts Council Concerts Series

Old Helton School Hog Stomp

Thursday Night Jam at the Silvermont Mansion

MARSHALL madisoncountyarts.com

STURGILLS BlueRidgeMusicNC.com

BREVARD silvermont.org

Concerts year round, visit website

Thursdays 7 pm-11 pm

Thursdays 7 pm

Mars Hill Radio Theatre

Old-Time Jam

Tom Dooley Museum Exhibit

MARS HILL marshillradiotheatre.org

MOUNT AIRY surryarts.org

FERGUSON whippoorwillacademy.com

Concerts year round, visit website

Saturdays 9 am-11 am

Micaville Music Jam

Old-Time Music Jam at Sanctuary Brewing

3rd Saturday each month 1 pm-5 pm, and by appointment.

MICAVILLE ooakartgallery.com Saturdays 10 am-Noon

Mount Airy Museum of Regional History MOUNT AIRY northcarolinamuseum.org Tuesday-Sunday 10 am-5 pm, Exhibits and special events, visit website

Mountain Music Monday’s at the Tasty Weasel Taproom BREVARD oskarblues.com Mondays 6 pm-8 pm

Museum of Ashe County History JEFFERSON ashehistory.org Concerts year round, visit website

Music & Dance at the Stompin' Ground MAGGIE VALLEY BlueRidgeMusicNC.com

TRYON tryonarts.org

Wednesdays 6:30 pm-8:30 pm

Concerts year round, visit website

Open Mic & Jam Session at Orchard at Altapass

Tuesday Bluegrass Sessions & Concerts at the Isis

SPRUCE PINE altapassorchard.org

ASHEVILLE isisasheville.com

Wednesdays 1:15pm

Tuesdays 7:30 pm-9:30 pm, concerts year round, visit website

Phipps General Store Jam LANSING BlueRidgeMusicNC.com

Weekly Jam Sessions at the Jones House

Fridays 7 pm-11 pm

BOONE joneshouse.org

Reeves Theater ELKIN ReevesTheater.com Concerts year round, visit website

Saturday Morning Gospel Jam

DANBURY greenheronclub.com

ASHEVILLE jackofthewood.com Wednesdays 6 pm Old-Time Jam, Thursday 7 pm Bluegrass Band & Jam, Friday & Saturday evening bands, visit website

Music at the Depot MARSHALL BlueRidgeMusicNC.com Fridays 6:30 pm

Music N'All at the Barn

White Horse Black Mountain BLACK MOUNTAIN whitehorseblackmountain.com Concerts year round, visit website

Wilkes Heritage Museum & Blue Ridge Hall of Fame

Saturdays 10 am-Noon

WILKESBORO wilkesheritagemuseum.com

SEBA 3rd Saturday Jam FRANKLIN coweeschool.org Saturdays Noon-3 pm

Music year round, visit website

Music at Jack of the Wood

Thursdays 7:30 pm-11 pm

MARION BlueRidgeMusicNC.com

Fridays & Saturdays 8 pm-10:30 pm

Music at Green Heron Ale House

Tryon Fine Arts Center

HENDERSONVILLE sanctuarybrewco.com

Sims Country Bar-B-Que GRANITE FALLS simscountrybbq.com Friday & Saturday 5 pm-9 pm

Sunday Afternoon Jam at the Mountain Gateway Museum OLD FORT mgmnc.org Sundays 2 pm-4 pm

The Foundation Performing Arts and Conference Center

Tuesday-Saturday 10 am-4 pm

WKBC Hometown Opry NORTH WILKESBORO 2nd Friday of each month 7 am-9 am

Woody's Original Mountain Music MARION BlueRidgeMusicNC.com Fridays 7 pm-9:30 pm

WPAQ Saturday Morning Merry-Go Round MOUNT AIRY wpaq740.com Saturdays 11 am-1:30 pm

Yadkin Cultural Center

SPINDALE foundationshows.org

YADKINVILLE yadkinarts.org

Tuesdays 7 pm-9 pm

Concerts year round, visit website

Concerts year round, visit website

Oconaluftee Old-Time Music Jam

Thursday Night Jam at the Earle Theatre

Zuma Coffee Bluegrass Jam Session

MOUNT AIRY surryarts.org

MARSHALL zumascoffee.com

Thursdays 7 pm-9 pm

Thursdays 7 pm-9 pm

EDEN exploreedennc.com

CHEROKEE nps.gov/grsm 3rd Saturday each month, May-October adds 1st Saturday each month, 1 pm-3 pm

DOWN THE ROAD

WWW.BLUERIDGEMUSICNC.COM

RADIO SHOWS

Enjoy the sounds of mountain music from the comfort of your home, cabin, or car by dialing in (or streaming) a radio show. • ACROSS THE BLUE RIDGE (old-time and bluegrass), 8-9 pm Sat., 6-7 pm Sun., WFDD 88.5 FM • BLUEGRASS FOR LUNCH, 12-3 pm Wed., RCR24.com • BLUEGRASS REVIEW, 8-10 pm Fri., WSQL 102.1FM • CLOSE TO HOME (old-time music), 8-10 pm Sat., WCQS 88.1 FM • COUNTRY ROOTS, 7-9 pm Sat., WCQS 88.1 FM • GOIN' ACROSS THE MOUNTAIN (bluegrass), 11 am-7 pm Sat., WNCW 88.7 FM • GOSPEL TRUTH (bluegrass), 7-11 am Sun., WNCW 88.7 FM • MERLEFEST RADIO HOUR, 6-7 pm Sun., WNCW 88.7 FM • MOUNTAIN MORNINGS (bluegrass), 6-7am, WNCW 88.7 FM • THIS OLD PORCH (old-time music), 3-6 pm Sun., WNCW 88.7 FM • WPAQ 740 AM – bluegrass and old-time music 51


6 SEASONAL 6

MILEPOST 213 ON THE BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY BlueRidgeMusicCenter.org

Singer & Songwriter Series at Tucker's Barn

May-October, visit website

LENOIR tuckersbarn.com

MAGGIE VALLEY raymondfairchild.com

April-September, 1st Thursday 7 pm-9 pm

Maggie Valley Opry May-October, visit website

Red, White & Bluegrass Jam BOONE BlueRidgeMusicNC.com April-November, 1st & 3rd Tuesday 6 pm

Micaville Music Concert Series MICAVILLE ooakartgallery.com April-December, Thursdays 7 pm-9 pm

Songwriters Showcase

Roots of American Music Exhibition MILEPOST 213 ON THE BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY BlueRidgeMusicCenter.org May, open Thursday-Monday; June-October, open daily, 10 am-5 pm

Concerts at Tweetsie Railroad BLOWING ROCK tweetsie.com May-December concerts and events, visit website

HAYESVILLE thepeacocknc.org April 28, June 2, July 14, September 17, 7 pm

Jam Sessions at the T.M. Rickman Store

Summer Concert Series

FRANKLIN rickmanstore.com

BRASSTOWN brasstowncommunitycenter.org

May-December 9, Saturdays Noon-4 pm

May-August, 2nd & 4th Saturdays 7 pm

Friday Night Live

Backstreet Park Summer Concerts

HIGHLANDS highlandschamber.org May 18-October 12, Fridays 6 pm

WEST JEFFERSON visitwestjefferson.org

Pickin' on the Square

May-August, 3rd & 4th Friday 5:30 pm

First Thursday Concert & Jam

FRANKLIN franklinnc.com May 18-October 13, Saturdays 7 pm-9 pm

CULLOWHEE wcu.edu

Summer Concert Series on the Square

May-October, 1st Thursday of each month 7 pm

HAYESVILLE cccra-nc.org

Historic Cowee School Summer Concert Series FRANKLIN coweeschool.org

May 25-September 7, most Fridays 7 pm

Concerts on the Creek at Bridge Park SYLVA mountainlovers.com

May-October, 3rd Saturday each month 7 pm

May 26, Saturday, and June-August, Fridays, 7 pm

Mid-Day Mountain Music MILEPOST 213 ON THE BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY BlueRidgeMusicCenter.org

Groovin' on the Green

May-October, daily Noon-4 pm

May 26, Saturday 6:30 pm; June-August, Fridays 6:30 pm; July 4, 7 pm-9 pm

CASHIERS villagegreencashiersnc.com

Live Music at the Orchard at Altapass SPRUCE PINE altapassorchard.org May-October, Thursday & Friday 1 pm, Saturday & Sunday 1 pm & 3 pm

52

Concerts at the Blue Ridge Music Center

Outdoor Concerts at the Jones House BOONE joneshouse.org June-August, Fridays 5 pm

BLUE RIDGE MUSIC TRAILS


Music on the Courthouse Square in Robbinsville ROBBINSVILLE townofrobbinsville.com June-August, Fridays 8 pm-10:30 pm

Clogging Lessons FONTANA DAM fontanavillage.com June-August, most Tuesday Afternoons

Clogging Dance FONTANA DAM fontanavillage.com June-August, most Tuesday Evenings

Todd Summer Concert Series TODD toddnc.org June-August, Saturdays 6 pm

Pickin' on the Porch & Jammin' in the Shade BURNSVILLE BlueRidgeMusicNC.com June-August, Sundays 2 pm-4 pm

Music on Main SPARTA BlueRidgeMusicNC.com

Cherokee Heritage Festival, Hayesville.

Joe Shannon's Mountain Home Music BOONE & BLOWING ROCK mountainhomemusic.com

June-October, 1st Fridays 6 pm

July-December, matinee & evening conerts, visit website

Tunes on the Tuck

Concerts at the Rock

BRYSON CITY greatsmokies.com

VALDESE townofvaldese.com

June-October, Saturdays 7 pm-9 pm

September-April, one Friday or Saturday each month 7 pm

An Appalachian Evening Summer Concert Series ROBBINSVILLE stecoahvalleycenter.com June 23-August, Saturdays 7:30 pm-10 pm

Indoor Concerts at the Jones House BOONE joneshouse.org

John C. Campbell Folk School Beginners Contra & Square Dance Weekly Series BRASSTOWN folkschool.org January-Mid-November, Tuesdays 7 pm-8 pm

APRIL 26-29

MerleFest WILKESBORO merlefest.org Thursday 2:30 pm-11 pm, Friday & Saturday 9 am-11 pm, Sunday 9 am-7 pm

6 MAY 6

Pickin' at Priddy's in February DANBURY priddysgeneralstore.com

6 APRIL 6

February 2019, Fridays 7 pm-9 pm

Swain County Heritage Festival BRYSON CITY greatsmokies.com

Late May, Friday 5:00-10 pm, Saturday 9 am-9 pm, visit website

September-May 7:30 pm, 1 to 3 concerts each month, visit website

APRIL 6-7

ASHEVILLE folkheritage.org

The Original Pickin' at Priddy's

Surry Old Time Fiddlers Convention

June 30-July 21 & August 11-September 1, Saturdays 7 pm

DANBURY priddysgeneralstore.com

Friday 7 pm-10 pm, Saturday 10 am-11 pm

Songcatchers Music Series

October 6-November 3, Saturdays 3 pm-5 pm

Quay Smathers Memorial Singing School

MAY 10-13

July, Sundays 4 pm

Traditional Music Concert Series

Waynesville Street Dance

DAVIDSON davidson.edu/the-arts

CLYDE qssingingschool.org

BLACK MOUNTAIN theleaf.org

January-April, one concert each month

Saturday, 9 am-4:30 pm

John C. Campbell Folk School Community Dances

APRIL 21

Thursday 4:30 pm-10 pm, Friday & Saturday 9 am-11 pm, Sunday 9 am-3 pm

Shindig on the Green

BREVARD cradleofforestry.com

WAYNESVILLE downtownwaynesville.com July-August, Fridays 6:30 pm-9 pm

Annual Street Dance HENDERSONVILLE historichendersonville.org July-August, Fridays 7 pm

DOWN THE ROAD

BRASSTOWN folkschool.org January-Mid-November, most Saturdays 8 pm-11 pm, visit website

WWW.BLUERIDGEMUSICNC.COM

DOBSON surryoldtime.com APRIL 14

MAY 5

Etowah Christian Harmony Singing ETOWAH christianharmony.org Saturday 10 am-3 pm

Spring LEAF Festival

Yadkin Valley Bluegrass Convention

MAY 19

YADKINVILLE BlueRidgeMusicNC.com

FERGUSON whippoorwillacademy.com

Saturday, Noon-10 pm

Saturday 10 am-5 pm

Tom Dooley Day

53


MAY 24-27

JUNE 3-9

The Way of the Dulcimer Spring Retreat

Blue Ridge Old-Time Music Week

LITTLE SWITZERLAND donpedi.com

MARS HILL mhu.edu/conferences

Thursday 4 pm-10 pm, Friday & Saturday 8 am-10 pm

Sunday-Saturday week-long session

MAY 25-27

Cherokee Bluegrass Festival

Fiddler's Grove Ole Time Fiddler’s & Bluegrass Festival

MARION adamsbluegrass.com

UNION GROVE fiddlersgrove.com

Thursday Noon-Saturday 10 pm

Friday 5 pm-8 pm, Saturday 10 am-8 pm, Sunday 10 am-2 pm

MAY 26

CHANGES YOU.

ROBBINSVILLE townofrobbinsville.com

JUNE 9

Saturday 11 am-3 pm

Bluff Mountain Festival MAY 26

HOT SPRINGS madisoncountyarts.com Saturday 10 am-6 pm

DANBURY priddysgeneralstore.com

JUNE 9

Saturday 6 pm-8 pm

Cherokee Voices Festival

MAY 26-27

CHEROKEE cherokeemuseum.org

Charlie Poole Music Festival

Saturday 10 am-5 pm

EDEN charlie-poole.com

JUNE 17-23

Saturday-Sunday, visit website

Dance Callers Workshop

MAY 27-JUNE 2

BRASSTOWN folkschool.org

Mount Airy Old-Time Retreat MOUNT AIRY surryarts.org Sunday-Saturday week-long session

MAY 28

Folk Music Festival at Carl Sandburg Home FLAT ROCK nps.gov/carl

Engaging hands and hearts since 1925. Come enjoy making crafts and good friends on 300 natural, scenic acres in western North Carolina.

Sunday-Saturday week-long session

JUNE 22

Elkin Roots Festival ELKIN foothillsartscouncil.org Friday 6 pm-10 pm

JUNE 23

6 JUNE 6

Monday 10 am-4 pm

Come for the day and visit the Craft Shop, History Center, and peek into the studios to see what students are creating. Also, check out our free Friday night concerts.

Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame Inductions Saturday 6 pm

Red, White & Blue at Priddy's

Taught by nationally-known instructors, our small-sized classes offer six hours of instruction each day, and provide a relaxed, non-competitive environment that makes for a unique experience.

JUNE 9

WILKESBORO blueridgemusichalloffame.com

Fading Voices Festival

THE FOLK SCHOOL

JUNE 7-9

RiddleFest

BURNSVILLE TraditionalVoicesGroup.com Late June, Friday 6 pm, visit website.

Singing on the Mountain at MacRae Meadows LINVILLE grandfather.com Saturday 8:30am-3 pm

JUNE 24-30

Roots of American Music Week MARS HILL mhu.edu/conferences Sunday-Saturday week-long session

JUNE 1-2

JOHN C. CAMPBELL FOLK SCHOOL folkschool.org BRASSTOWN

54

1-800-FOLK-SCH NORTH CAROLINA

Mount Airy Bluegrass and Old Time Fiddlers Convention MOUNT AIRY mountairyfiddlersconvention.com Friday 7:00 pm-11 pm, Saturday 9:30am11 pm

JUNE 30

Annual Heritage Day and Wood Kiln Opening LENOIR traditionspottery.com Saturday 9 am-4 pm

BLUE RIDGE MUSIC TRAILS


6 JULY 6

JULY 1-7

Swannanoa Gathering Traditional Song Week ASHEVILLE swangathering.com Sunday-Saturday 7:30am-11 pm

JULY 13-14

JULY 22-28

AUGUST 11

Snowbird Mountain Singing

Swannanoa Gathering Guitar Week

Annual Fontana Dam Bluegrass Festival

ASHEVILLE swangathering.com

FONTANA DAM BlueRidgeMusicNC.com

Sunday-Saturday week-long session

Saturday 3 pm-9 pm

JULY 27-28

AUGUST 16-18

Ashe County Bluegrass and Old Time Fiddlers Convention

Annual North Carolina State Bluegrass Festival

JEFFERSON ashefiddlersconvention.org

CHEROKEE adamsbluegrass.com

Friday 7 pm-9 pm, Saturday 10 am-10 pm

Thursday 11 am-Saturday 11 pm

Folkmoot

JULY 29-AUGUST 4

AUGUST 18

WAYNESVILLE & WNC folkmootusa.org

Swannanoa Gathering Fiddle Week

Franklin Folk Festival

Daiy performances and events, visit website

ASHEVILLE swangathering.com

JULY 20-21

Sunday-Saturday week-long session

Alleghany County Fiddlers Convention

JULY 29-AUGUST 4

Clear Mountain View Festival

Swannanoa Gathering Mando & Banjo Week

LAWNDALE BlueRidgeMusicNC.com

ASHEVILLE swangathering.com

Thursday-Saturday weekend event

ROBBINSVILLE BlueRidgeMusicNC.com Friday-Saturday

JULY 15-21

Swannanoa Gathering Old-Time Week ASHEVILLE swangathering.com Sunday-Saturday 7:30am-11 pm

JULY 4-7

Red, White, and Bluegrass Festival MORGANTON redwhiteandbluegrassfestival.org Wednesday 5 pm-10:30 pm, ThursdaySaturday 1 pm-10:30 pm

JULY 6-7

Heritage Festival Music, Moonshiners, Motors & Mountaineers ROBBINSVILLE townofrobbinsville.com Friday 5 pm 10:30 pm, Saturday 9 am 11 pm

JULY 7

Annual Shaped-Note Singing & Picnic on the Grounds BRASSTOWN folkschool.org Saturday 10 am-3 pm

JULY 7

Christmas in July Festival WEST JEFFERSON christmasinjuly.info Saturday 9 am-6 pm

JULY 7

Coon Dog Day

JULY 19-29

SPARTA alleghanyfiddlersconvention.com Friday 5 pm-10 pm, Saturday 11 am-11 pm

JULY 20-21

Spruce Pine BBQ Championship & Bluegrass Festival SPRUCE PINE sprucepinebbqbluegrass.org Friday 8 am-10 pm, Saturday 10 am-10 pm

Sunday-Saturday week-long session

6 AUGUST 6

JULY 21

AUGUST 2-4

Annual Swannanoa Shaped-Note Singing

Mountain Dance & Folk Festival

ASHEVILLE christianharmony.org

ASHEVILLE folkheritage.org

Saturday 10 am-3 pm

Thursday-Saturday 6:30 pm-10:30 pm

FRANKLIN FranklinFolkFestival.com Saturday 10 am-4 pm

AUGUST 23-25

AUGUST 31-SEPTEMBER 1

The Smoky Mountain Folk Festival LAKE JUNALUSKA lakejunaluska.com Friday & Saturday 6:30 pm

AUGUST 31-SEPTEMBER 2

Happy Valley Fiddlers Convention LENOIR happyvalleyfiddlers.org Friday 7 pm-11 pm, Saturday 11 am-11 pm, Sunday 10 am-6 pm

Dance ensembles from around the world perform as part of the Folkmoot festival in Waynesville. PATRICK PARTON PHOTO

SALUDA cityofsaludanc.com Saturday 9 am-11 pm

JULY 9-13

Sounds of Appalachian Music Camp NEWLAND mayland.edu Monday-Friday 10 am-6 pm

JULY 13-14

Annual NC Blackberry Festival LENOIR caldwellchambernc.com Friday 5 pm-9 pm, Saturday 9 am-5 pm

DOWN THE ROAD

WWW.BLUERIDGEMUSICNC.COM

55


Held twice a year, the Lake Eden Arts Festival (LEAF) brings together local, regional and world performers. DONATED PHOTO

SEPTEMBER 15

OCTOBER 5-6

Cherokee Heritage Festival

Bascom Lamar Lunsford “Minstrel of Appalachia” Festival

HAYESVILLE cccra-nc.org

MARS HILL lunsfordfestival.com

Saturday 10 am-3 pm

Friday 7 pm-9 pm, Saturday 10 am-4 pm

SEPTEMBER 15

Mountain Heritage Festival

OCTOBER 5-7

SPARTA sparta-nc.com

Cashiers Leaf Festival CASHIERS visitcashiersvalley.com

Saturday 10 am-4:30 pm

Friday-Sunday 10 am-5 pm

SEPTEMBER 15-16

Heritage Weekend at the Folk Art Center ASHEVILLE southernhighlandguild.org Saturday 10 am-4 pm, Sunday Noon-5 pm

OCTOBER 6-7

John C. Campbell Folk School Fall Festival BRASSTOWN folkschool.org Saturday-Sunday 10 am – 5 pm

SEPTEMBER 21-22

OCTOBER 12-14

Art of Sound Festival

Autumn Leaves Festival

SHELBY ccartscouncil.org Friday 7 pm-11 pm, Saturday 10 am-10 pm

MOUNT AIRY autumnleavesfestival.com

SEPTEMBER 21-22

Friday-Saturday 9 am-9 pm, Sunday Noon -6 pm

Carolina in the Fall Music & Food Festival

6 SEPTEMBER 6

3b Music Festival UNION GROVE 3bmusicfestival.com

WILKESBORO carolinainthefall.org SEPTEMBER 8

Music at the Mill WAYNESVILLE francismill.org Saturday 10 am-4 pm

SEPTEMBER 8

WAYNESVILLE downtownwaynesville.com

SEPTEMBER 21-22

Saturday 10 am-5 pm

Fontana Clogging Jamboree

OCTOBER 13

Late September, Saturday, visit website

Old Timey Fall Festival

ROBBINSVILLE townofrobbinsville.com

SEPTEMBER 22

Late September, Saturday 10 am-4 pm, visit website

SEPTEMBER 1

Etowah Christian Harmony Singing ETOWAH christianharmony.org

SEPTEMBER 8-9

Stokes Stomp: Festival on the Dan DANBURY stokesarts.org Saturday 10 am-6:30 pm, Sunday 10 am5:30 pm

Saturday 10 am-3 pm

SEPTEMBER 9

SEPTEMBER 1

Annual Old Folks Day Shaped-Note Singing

"Groovin’ Labor Day Extravaganza CASHIERS visitcashiersvalley.com

CANTON qssingingschool.org

Sims Country Bar-B-Que Molasses Festival

FONTANA DAM BlueRidgeMusicNC.com Friday 9 am-11 pm, Saturday 8:30am-10:30 pm

Saturday 2 pm-10 pm

GRANITE FALLS simscountrybbq.com Saturday 9 pm-4 pm

Music in the Mountains Folk Festival BURNSVILLE toeriverarts.org

BLACK MOUNTAIN theleaf.org

CULLOWHEE mountainheritageday.com Saturday 8 am-5 pm

6 OCTOBER 6

SEPTEMBER 7-9

OCTOBER 5

Blowing Rock Music Festival

BBQ for Books with a Side of Bluegrass

BLOWING ROCK theblowingrock.com

KING stokespfc.com

Saturday Noon-Sunset

Friday 5 am-9 pm

56

TODD toddruritan.org

Fall LEAF Festival

Mountain Heritage Day

SEPTEMBER 15

Friday 4 pm-10 pm, Saturday Noon-10 pm, Sunday Noon-6 pm

Todd New River Festival

OCTOBER 18-21

SEPTEMBER 29

Sunday Noon-3 pm

BREVARD mountainsongfestival.com

OCTOBER 13

Saturday 9 am-5 pm

Saturday 5:30 pm-8:30 pm

Saturday 6:30 pm

Mountain Song Festival

Annual Church Street Art & Craft Show

Friday & Saturday 10 am-10 pm

Robbinsville Arts & Craft Festival

BURNSVILLE oldtimeyfallfestival.com

OCTOBER 13

Thursday 4:30 pm-10 pm, Friday & Saturday 9 am-11 pm, Sunday 9 am-3 pm

OCTOBER 19-20

Stecoah's Harvest Festival ROBBINSVILLE stecoahvalleycenter.com Friday 5 pm-8 pm, Saturday 11 am-9 pm

OCTOBER 19-21

Punkin' Chunkin' HAYESVILLE claychambernc.com Friday 6 pm-9 pm, Saturday-Sunday 10 am-6 pm

BLUE RIDGE MUSIC TRAILS


OCTOBER 20

Aldersgate Apple Butter Festival SHELBY aldersgateshelby.com

6 NOVEMBER 6

6 DECEMBER 6

Saturday 9 am-3 pm

NOVEMBER 9

DECEMBER 7

OCTOBER 20

Swannanoa Valley Singing

Winter's Tune

Apple Harvest Festival

BLACK MOUNTAIN christianharmony.org

MARS HILL mhu.edu Friday 7 pm

DECEMBER 31

Clay's Corner New Year's Eve Celebration BRASSTOWN clayscorner.com

6 2019 6

New Year's Eve 9 pm

WAYNESVILLE haywoodchamber.com

Saturday 10 am-3 pm

DECEMBER 8

Saturday 10 am-5 pm

NOVEMBER 17

Pickin' at Priddy's Christmas

OCTOBER 20

Ellenboro Fiddlers and Bluegrass Convention

DANBURY priddysgeneralstore.com

ELLENBORO BlueRidgeMusicNC.com

Saturday 7 pm-9 pm

MOUNT AIRY surryarts.org

DECEMBER 8-9

Saturday 7 pm-9:30 pm

Christian Harmony Singing at Saint John's Historic Church

FEBRUARY 2019

The Official Fall Liver Mush Festival of North Carolina, Mush, Music and Mutts SHELBY uptownshelby.com Saturday 10 am-3 pm

OCTOBER 20

Saturday 6:30 pm-10:00ppm

NOVEMBER 25

Annual Thanksgiving Kiln Opening

Valle Country Fair

LENOIR traditionspottery.com

VALLE CRUCIS vallecountryfair.org

Sunday 10 am-4 pm

Saturday 9 am-4 pm

NOVEMBER 30-DECEMBER 1

OCTOBER 26-28

Balsam Range Art of Music Festival

John C. Campbell Folk School Dare to Be Square Musicians & Callers BRASSTOWN folkschool.org

LAKE JUNALUSKA balsamrangeartofmusicfestival.com Friday 6 pm-11:30 pm, Saturday Noon-11:30 pm

Friday-Sunday weekend session

RUTHERFORDTON christianharmony.org

JANUARY 5, 2019

Breaking Up Christmas Dance

Appalachian State Old-Time Fiddlers Convention

Saturday & Sunday 10 am-3 pm

BOONE fiddle.appstate.edu

DECEMBER 26-JANUARY 1, 2019

Friday 8 pm-10 pm, Saturday 10 am-10 pm, visit website

John C. Campbell Folk School Winter Dance Week BRASSTOWN folkschool.org Wednesday-Tuesday week-long session

DECEMBER 29

Breaking Up Christmas Dance MOUNT AIRY surryarts.org Saturday 7 pm-9:30 pm

Shindig on the Green is a popular music series held every summer in downtown Asheville. MAX COOPER PHOTO

FEBRUARY 15-17, 2019

Bluegrass First Class ASHEVILLE bluegrassfirstclass.com Friday-Saturday 10:15am-Midnight, Sunday 8 am-10:30am

MARCH, 2019

NC Thumbpickers Convention STATESVILLE nctaf.com Visit website for 2019 dates

MARCH 1-3, 2019

Tommy Jarrell Festival MOUNT AIRY surryarts.org Thursday-Saturday 8:30am-9:30 pm

MARCH 9, 2019

Caldwell Traditional Musicians Showcase LENOIR broyhillcenter.com Saturday 7:30 pm

MARCH 9, 2019

Fiddlers of Madison County MARSHALL madisoncountyarts.com Saturday 3 pm

MARCH 17, 2019

Annual Sandy Ridge School Bluegrass Show SANDY RIDGE BlueRidgeMusicNC.com Saturday 6 pm-8:30 pm

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Celebrating the

Southern Appalachians

Smoky Mountain Living celebrates the mountain region’s culture, music, art, and special places. We tell our stories for those who are lucky enough to live here and those who want to stay in touch with where they love.

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Down the Road | 2018  

The Magazine of the Blue Ridge Music Trails

Down the Road | 2018  

The Magazine of the Blue Ridge Music Trails