It never ceases to amaze Lorraine Conard.
“It’s a little bit magical,” she said. “You walk in and there’s this energy and excitement, a heartbeat within the community — I’m always so grateful and thankful for the people who come in.”
Who the heck are those guys?
It’s a question constantly asked about Porch 40, a Sylva-based funk/rock outfit barreling out of the Southern Appalachian woods like a black bear on speed.
Monday is the new Saturday.
Heading down Frazier Street in Waynesville to BearWaters Brewing Company, one can barely find a place to park on a typical Monday evening. For the last couple of months, the location has played host to a semi-weekly open mic event called the “Spontaneous CombustJam.” Bringing together local talents and acclaimed regional players, the sessions have gained a buzz around Western North Carolina in just a short time.
His voice will stop you in your tracks.
Russ Wilson is a bridge to an era, a time when style and class were synonymous with musicianship and showmanship.
Claire Lynch likes to blur lines.
Born and raised in Upstate New York, she eventually moved away, crossing the Mason-Dixon Line for Alabama at age 12. She carried in her mind the sounds of the 1960s folk scene of Greenwich Village in Manhattan and show tunes echoing from the record player in her childhood home. Soon, she’d cross paths down South with country and bluegrass melodies radiating from Nashville and beyond.
For the better part of the last 45 years, David Holt has ventured down a rabbit hole.
Born in Texas, raised and schooled in California, Holt took off after college for the ancient, mystical mountains of Western North Carolina. Fascinated with the traditional old-time folk and string music echoing from Southern Appalachia, he began an endless journey to find, learn and perpetuate the eternal voices and sounds radiating from back hollers and front porches.
Tracy O’Neil has a lot less weight on his shoulders these days.
“We never accepted that we could lose the camp,” he said. “If we had lost the camp, we would have lost a cornerstone of the history of our community.”
Sipping a cup of coffee at Panacea Coffeehouse in Waynesville one recent morning, O’Neil relaxes into his seat, only to lean forward enthusiastically each time he speaks of the past, present and future of Camp Hope — a longtime community gathering spot for Haywood County and beyond.
They were stuck. Sitting around the bar at No Name Sports Pub in Sylva, the members of rockabilly band Rumble Seat Riot were wondering if they’d make their upcoming show in St. Louis, if their broken down van in Greenville was salvageable, or if they’d even be able to make it back home to Des Moines.
French Kirkpatrick can sum up Carroll Best.
“What he did with the banjo was above and beyond,” Kirkpatrick said. “He was the most, probably without a doubt, the most creative banjo player I was ever in a room with.”
Recently at his home in Ironduff, a mountain community a few miles outside of downtown Waynesville, Kirkpatrick, an acclaimed musician in his own right, relaxed further back into his couch and reminisced with a smile about his late friend.
He was beloved by all who knew him. Richard Coker embodied the spirit of Appalachia. As a co-owner of the Cataloochee Ranch in Maggie Valley, his warmth and hospitality radiated from the top of the mountain and shined brightly to anyone lucky enough to see his light.