art theplaceScrew it all.

There have been days, many days, where I’ve found myself sitting in traffic, standing in line, waiting on the phone, ordering something I really don’t want (or need), drinking and eating something that probably isn’t good for me, and think to myself, “Screw it all, I don’t want any part of this — no more.”

coverMarc Pruett has won a Grammy and played the Grand Ole Opry stage, but his biggest concern on this day is sinkholes.

“Where is it? Canton?,” he asked a coworker. 

Director of erosion control for Haywood County, Pruett sits at his desk, which is covered in paper, maps and books. After a heavy midday rain, two sinkholes have emerged in downtown Canton. Pruett puts a plan into motion, workers head for the door. 

art theplaceIt’s a sound that immediately turns your head.

Sitting at a table within the 5 Walnut Wine Bar in downtown Asheville one lazy, sunny Appalachian afternoon, a trio of musicians took to the floor and eased into the subtle ambiance of the cozy space.

art theplaceTime sure does fly, eh? It hit me this week that my column recently crossed over the one-year anniversary threshold. How crazy, huh?

art theplaceWaylon Jennings is alive.

Figuratively. Not literally, folks. Strolling down Haywood Road in West Asheville one evening last summer, I came across the Double Crown, a dive bar of the most enjoyable proportions. And I love dive bars, places where I feel as welcomed as the beer is cold. 

art frIt all started with a drum solo.

“My mother was of the big band generation, and she’d watch all of these movies when I was a kid with big bands in them,” said Michael Reno Harrell. “I remember seeing Gene Krupa do a drum solo and I decided that’s what I wanted to do.”

tg cataloocheeStanding atop the 5,000-foot Cataloochee Ranch mountain retreat in Maggie Valley, the vastness and endless beauty of Western North Carolina stretches out before your eyes. Heading towards the main building, you reach for the doorknob and enter eagerly. Soon, your body, mind and soul are soaked by the sounds of friends, strangers and old-time string music.

From welcoming, backwoods front porches to raucous downtown stages, the music of Western North Carolina weaves together the rich history, passion and camaraderie of Southern Appalachia and its inhabitants. At the heart of this deep love and appreciation for music are the communities that proudly display their heritage by offering weekly performances for residents and visitors alike. 

coverAt the front of the room, banjos and fiddles plow through an Appalachian repertoire. Fingers dance across strings, conjuring the history and tradition that have seeped out of the region’s hills for generations. 

“Trying to get’em to play together on the same beat at the beginning is kind of like herding cats,” laughed instructor Robby Robertson. “But by the end they get it together.”

Across the audience, parents capture the moment with cell phone cameras. The young musicians focus on their instruments and ready themselves for another song.

art theplace“Hey, Garret, what’s up, man?” I looked up from my notebook and there standing in front of me was a familiar face. Tony Casey, from the North Country. It was last Saturday evening and I was sitting at a picnic table at White Duck Taco in the River Arts District of Asheville. And there we were, two boys from the Champlain Valley of Upstate New York, crossing paths over a thousand miles from our hometowns.

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