The Haywood Tourism Development Authority asked the five-man band to serve as official promoters of Haywood County.
âWhat better ambassadors can we have?â said Lynn Collins, executive director of the Haywood County TDA.
The high-profile bluegrass band, hailing from Haywood, dovetails perfectly with the countyâs new tourism promotion message: Homegrown in Haywood. The marketing campaign positions Haywood as a bastion of authentic Appalachia, be it music, handmade items, food, culture or even craft beer.
Although all the details have not been worked out, the bandâs new duties could include bringing tourism materials on the road, such as T-shirts or maybe koozies with the TDA logo on them, or being featured in promotional videos.
âIt is a work in progress,â Collins said.
Darren Nicholson, mandolin player for Balsam Range, said he expects the job to be easy since the band already makes a point to mention Haywood County at all its shows and invite people to visit.
âIt is our honor and pleasure,â Nicholson said. âItâs just beautiful, and the people are great. There are no better people than in Western North Carolina.â
The band will not be paid to carry the torch of Haywoodâs tourism message.
Balsam Range has had numerous nominations at the International Bluegrass Music Awards and finally won the IBMA âSong of the Yearâ in 2011.
Separately, each musician has a list of noted achievements as well. Banjoist Marc Pruett has won a Grammy Award; bassist/dobroist Tim Surrett is in the Southern Gospel Music Hall of Fame; guitarist Caleb Smith won PowerGrass Music Awards âMale Vocalist of the Year;â Nicholson performed at the Grand Ole Opry; and fiddler Buddy Melton has jammed with the legendary Doc Watson.
The Haywood County Board of Commissioners even proclaimed Aug. 10 âBalsam Range Day.â
And although the band members reside in different towns in Haywood County, they donât differentiate; they lay claim to the whole of the county.
âWe are really proud of the county,â Nicholson said. âEverybody in this county, from the very first show we did, got behind us and supported us.â
Balsam Rangeâs summer is already jam packed with concerts to continue promoting their most recent album âPapertown,â named after Canton.