With each impending New Year, we tend to take a look back and reflect on just what made the last 365 days unique to the folks of Western North Carolina. Just when you think you couldn’t top the past and its special moments, another year of unknown beauty and milestones is revealed.
And for 2015, it was another banner year in the world of arts and entertainment. From brewery expansions to national music awards, and everything in between, we all once again either witnessed or participated in the glorious essence of Southern Appalachia — a region as magical and mesmerizing as the people who inhabit it.
Cheers to 2015. Onward and upward in 2016.
Twenty-seven years is a long time for anything.
“It amazing to me that it’s still going on,” Warren Haynes said. “It’s getting bigger and better every year, and I don’t think we would have predicted that when we started it years ago.”
SEE ALSO: Haywood Habitat looks to 2016
Catch him if you can. For the better part of the last 25 years, Scott Weiland has been a moving target within the music industry. Lightning struck twice for the singer, as a front man for both Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver, two of the most successful rock acts in the modern era. And yet, with success, comes a price.
“David Holt’s State of Music — Live” will take to the stage from 3 to 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 22, in the John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center at Western Carolina University.
Acts scheduled to join Holt, an icon of traditional music and storytelling, are international sensation Rhiannon Giddens of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, award-winning bluegrass favorites Balsam Range, emerging ballad singer Josh Goforth, and the African-American gospel duo of Wilbur Tharpe and Lena Mae Perry, performing as The Branchettes.
“Some may never live, but the crazy never die.” It’s a quote by Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, a writer whose influence on my life and ultimate career path can never be understated.
I got it. Growing up outside of Burlington, Vermont, I came out of the womb with a Phish album in-hand. Founded in The Queen City, the jam act was the soundtrack we blasted in our cars and the melodies we danced to frantically at shows — the group we pledged our allegiance to.
It’s my favorite time of the year. There is nothing like fall. To me, this season isn’t about pumpkin lattes, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin beer, and all along down the line of things pumpkin. It isn’t about an excuse to wear new boots, scarves or leggings. It isn’t even about screaming at the top of your lungs at a football game.
It’s about chipping away. When you come into this world, you’re a block of unknown potential. Untouched and ready to be molded into whatever shape and size your ultimate destiny takes. And those lines and curves of your being come from experience, from wandering and discovering, on your own, just what you’re made of.
I was told “good luck.”
In August 2012, as one of my first assignments for The Smoky Mountain News, I found myself at the doorstep of the Maggie Valley Opry House. Owned and operated by acclaimed banjoist Raymond Fairchild, I was told “good luck” when it came to actually having a civil interview with the bluegrass icon. Referred to as “crabby” or “ironclad,” I wondered just how well my sit-down with him would actually go.
Heading north on State Road 135, just outside the small town of Nashville, Indiana, the stretch of pavement curves along a mountain ridge, as if you’re rolling along the spine of a snake. Though the last rays of summer are still holding strong back in Western North Carolina, fall colors had spilled onto the endless landscape of multi-colored trees and sheered cornfields in the heartland of America.
With Nashville in the rearview mirror, you roll up and down the foothills of rural Brown County. Soon, a large bright yellow sign appears to your right. You almost have to slam your brakes when it makes itself known at the last second. In big letters it states, “Bill Monroe’s Memorial Music Park & Campground — Home of the Brown County Jamboree.”