Acclaimed bluegrass act Balsam Range will welcome the Snyder Family Band as part of their Winter Concert Series at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 7, at the Colonial Theatre in Canton.
When he thinks of the Colonial Theatre, Zeb Smathers sees untapped potential.
“There are so many things it can used for — movies, concerts, plays, school productions,” he said. “It’s been a goal of mine from early on to use the Colonial for not just more things, but also in new ways.”
John Driskell Hopkins was driving in his truck when it struck him.
It was a song. Radiating from his satellite radio, it sounded like a fond memory he once knew. The voices and melody were familiar, but he hadn’t ever heard it before, and had no idea who wrote it. He looked at the radio. A band name appeared in the digital display: Balsam Range.
The strings of tradition and progress echoed from the back alley.
Upon further inspection (and a lone door cracked open), the harmonic tone was radiating from the mandolin of Darren Nicholson.
By DeeAnna Haney • Smoky Mountain News Intern
Although Curly Hollow might sound like the perfect picnic area down some country road, it’s really more a product of imagination than a destination. In fact, the members of the band Curly Hollow aren’t even sure if such a place truly exists — the name simply resonated with them during their search for a title.
The country-pop band has come a long way since the members first met at a showcase in Nashville in July 2010. Now, less than a year later, members Keil Smith, Zakk Merrill, Charlie Lance, Chris Pruett and Ryan Riddle are celebrating the release of their first extended play record, “Love in Theory.”
Curly Hollow’s sound is mellow and modern at the same time, with a touch of many different musical styles. Each member contributes pieces from varying musical influences such as The Temptations, Jason Aldean, and Miles Davis.
“We try to blend different genres together – jazz, rock, country, blues – and just put our own twist to it and it’s fun that way,” said Zakk Merrill, the band’s bass guitarist.
Lead guitarist Charlie Lance tries to ensure the band’s sound stays original and fresh, not sticking with the same chord progressions in each song. He often incorporates what he learns while practicing for his jazz studies classes into songs for the band.
Most reminiscent of the sounds of Rascal Flatts, Curly Hollow’s songs have attracted traditional country music lovers as well as those who normally steer clear of the genre. The band believes they appeal to a wide variety of musical palettes because of the genre infusions and the passion behind each song.
“It’s one thing when you see a band get on stage but their hearts aren’t really in it,” Lance said. “But there is something cool to be said about seeing somebody do something they’re extremely passionate about and that’s what we try to do.”
Already signed to a Christian label before joining Curly Hollow, lead vocalist Keil Smith said he always harbored a penchant for country music. With an admittedly sappy songwriting style, Smith’s lyrics come directly from the heart.
Each member typically contributes to the songwriting process, although Lance has a difficult time putting his thoughts into words. His preference, he said, is to evoke emotion through his guitar.
“Love in Theory” is a collection of six original songs each exploring love in the best and worst forms, from falling in love to heart break. The EP features a satisfying sample of Curly Hollow’s various sounds such as the rock-and-roll duet with Ami Pruett “Home of Glass,” the simple acoustic guitar accompaniment to “Because,” and the traditionally country twang in “fairytale.”
Spectators attending a Curly Hollow show should expect a high-energy concert, Smith said, because the band is eager to play on stage for the first time. His hope is that the band’s chemistry and camaraderie will radiate through the songs.
“When a band does a good job on stage I feel like I know every member when I leave because they put so much into their performance and that’s what we want,” Lance said.
Visit www.reverbnation.com/curlyhollow or iTunes to preview Curly Hollow’s music.
Curly Hollow will play its debut concert with opening act Rewind Blue at 6 p.m. Saturday, April 9, at the Colonial Theatre in Canton. A CD release party will follow the concert. Tickets are $7 and can be purchased at the Colonial Theatre or at Simple Taste Grill in Canton.
Balsam Range will perform a concert with Tony Rice and Bobby Hicks at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 17 at the Colonial Theater in Canton.
Balsam Range is renowned bluegrass band based in Haywood County whose members include Buddy Melton, Tim Surrett, Marc Pruett, Caleb Smith and Darren Nicholson. Each one has extensive music credentials, and each brings a well-rounded, unique contribution to the fresh sound of this new bluegrass band.
The Canton concert includes nationally known artists Tony Rice and Bobby Hicks for what Balsam Range’s web site is calling a “Christmas party.”
Admission is $15. For tickets and information call 828.235.2760 or visit www.balsamrange.com.
Asheville-based mountain and bluegrass group Sons of Ralph will perform a fundraising concert for the Canton Lions Club from 6 to 9 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 28, at the historic Colonial Theatre in downtown Canton.
The Sons of Ralph play a wide variety of music, including many original songs. Their unique sound, which has been described as “Americana,” incorporates traditional mountain music, bluegrass, country and Western, folk, and classic rock. As a testament to the band’s popularity, readers of The Mountain Xpress have voted The Sons of Ralph “Best Local Band” for eight of the last 10 years, including 2007 and 2008.
All proceeds from the concert go to the Canton Lions Club, an active service organization dedicated to serving the people and community of Canton. As part of its continuing mission to serve, the Canton Lions Club provides college scholarships for deserving high school students, supports community organizations and donates thousands of dollars to local schools and charities. The club also sponsors Canton’s annual Labor Day rides.
$10. Tickets can be picked up (with cash or check made out to the Canton Lions Club) in Canton at Clay Dangerfield’s State Farm Insurance Office at 80 Crossroad Hill next to Ingles or at American Cleaners at 10 Penland St. in downtown. Advanced tickets can be mailed if ordered before Aug. 21.
For more information and to purchase tickets, contact Canton Lions Club President Patrick Willis at 828.279.6195.
One of the region’s most beloved and authentic cultural traditions, Shindig on the Green, will present “A Celebration of Mountain Traditions” annual fundraiser with headliner Balsam Range plus Laura Boosinger and Bobby Hicks and the Cole Mountain Cloggers at 7 p.m. Saturday, March 20 at the historic Colonial Theatre in downtown Canton for an evening of traditional old-time music and dance.
The March 20th “Celebration of Mountain Traditions” fundraiser is a key element in securing necessary funding for the free and beloved Shindig on the Green summer Saturday evenings in Asheville. After a four-year relocation to make way for the new park construction, Shindig returns to its original location this summer in the heart of downtown Asheville at Pack Square Park’s Roger McGuire Green, on the new Bascom Lamar Lunsford Stage. Dedicated to the celebration and preservation of the region’s rich cultural heritage, Shindig on the Green’s 44th summer season is scheduled for July 3, 10, 17, 31; August 14, 21, 28; and September 4.
The concert has a $6,000 monetary goal, with all of those funds needed to help cover the “free” Shindig’s very real operating costs, which average $6,000 an evening. The Folk Heritage Committee’s produces Shindig on the Green and the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival in order to support the preservation and continuation of the traditional music, dance and storytelling heritage of the Southern Appalachian Mountains.
Based in Haywood County, Balsam Range’s members grew up in the rich musical heritage of the Appalachian South, surrounded by culture and heritage steeped in traditions of The Grand Ole Opry, bluegrass, gospel and country music. Featuring Grammy award winner Marc Pruett on banjo, Darren Nicholson on vocals and mandolin, Buddy Melton on fiddle and vocals, Caleb Smith on guitar and vocals, and Tim Surrett on bass and vocals, Balsam Range is celebrating the success of its single, “Last Train To Kitty Hawk,” the title cut from the band’s second album, hitting No. 1 on the national Bluegrass Unlimited Chart in September 2009; the album itself reached No. 5 that same month. The band also recently took the stage for a live television taping of the popular PBS program “Song of the Mountains,” playing alongside Rhonda Vincent and the Rage before a sold-out audience.
Two of Western North Carolina’s more well-known and beloved musicians are pairing up to perform together. Laura Boosinger’s concert performance and recordings have earned her a well-deserved reputation as one of North Carolina’s most talented singers and interpreters of the music of the Southern Appalachians. Conventions, festivals, workshops and family concerts each provide a unique opportunity to showcase her talents as she features a variety of traditional stringed instruments, including old-time banjo, guitar, Appalachian dulcimer and fingerstyle Autoharp. Boosinger is also the Executive Director of the Madison County Arts Council.
Living legend Bobby Hicks is a self-taught fiddler who has played since he was nine years old. Originally hired by Bluegrass legend Bill Monroe in 1954 to play bass, Hicks switched to fiddle when fiddler Gordon Terry was drafted into the military. He joined up with the Ricky Skaggs Band in 1981, and throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s won multiple awards with the Ricky Skaggs Band and with Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder. Today, whether teaching young fiddlers, making guest appearances all over Western North Carolina, or playing a hot fiddle streak on stage, Bobby Hicks continues to contribute to the enjoyment of fans everywhere.
The Cole Mountain Cloggers, dancers from Buncombe, Madison and Mitchell counties, has won multiple awards, including the Ruth Jewell Trophy for Best Dance Team performance, claiming championship of the 2009 NC State Fair.
By Michael Beadle
Phil Smathers still vividly recalls those Saturdays as a kid when 25 cents bought a hot dog, sucker and a movie at the Colonial Theatre. He’d be there all day with his friends watching the latest Buck Rogers adventures, old cowboy Westerns, and exotic stories about Sinbad.