The solidarity was evident.

Sitting onstage this past Monday at Nantahala Brewing in Bryson City, I conducted another episode of “Smoky Mountain Voices,” where local characters and officials are interviewed during an extended face-to-face conversation. It’s in an effort to learn more about the people and places that make Western North Carolina such a unique and cherished region.

For the better part of the last four years, Nick Dittmeier & The Sawdusters have zigzagged to and fro every nook and cranny of the Southeast and Midwest.

Hola.

I’ve been saying that an awful lot while currently down here in Cancun, Mexico. Ten days of feet-in-the-sand with a cold-drink-in-my-hand. Isn’t that the words to a county song or something? If not, should be, eh?

It’s like pulling teeth.

As your arts and entertainment editor for Western North Carolina, I find it difficult sometimes to not only “rally the troops” to attend local art events, but also get folks to support and share these ongoing gatherings and vital interactions in our mountain communities.

The time had come.

Last Friday, right around noon, I received a message on Facebook. It was a fella looking to purchase my old pickup truck. Though the engine had died in October, the beloved truck itself was still sitting in front of my apartment in Waynesville. Partly due to my longtime and sentimental history with the vehicle, partly, due to the mere fact nobody had shown any interest (yet) in taking it off my hands.

They said it happens.

When I was younger, and very much so in conversation nowadays, it was always said that as you get older, you tend to circle back to the music of your youth.

Nobody ever seems to know.

New Year’s Eve is the same day every go around, and yet, why is it nobody pulls the trigger on party plans until the last minute? Year after year, I find myself in this predicament, where I ask all month what everybody is up to for the ball drop. One-by-one they shrug their shoulders without a clue.

Once the roads became sketchy, I became familiar with the territory.

Ten years ago this week I left my native Upstate New York for my first journalism gig out of college in the tiny mountain town of Driggs, Idaho.

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