What a year.
That is about all you can say about the past 12 months for Jackson County bluegrass act Mountain Faith. And yet, this past Thursday evening was the cherry on top for the rapidly rising family string band when they received “Emerging Artist of the Year” at the International Bluegrass Music Association awards in Raleigh.
“To be honest, we were just expecting to go to the IBMAs and have a great time jamming and hanging out with our bluegrass friends. We absolutely were not expecting to win an award,” said lead singer Summer McMahan in her trademark modest tone.
High Country Tire Shop is an extra-busy place these days. Ever since Mountain Faith, the bluegrass family band whose members all work at the shop, made a splash on the national stage with their performances on America’s Got Talent, fans have been coming from all over just to see the band members at work.
It was another banner year for Western North Carolina bluegrass acts at the International Bluegrass Music Association awards in Raleigh last Thursday evening.
Despite torrential downpours, and the possible threat of Hurricane Joaquin making landfall, the industry showcase once again brought together musicians, promoters and bluegrass fans alike for a week of memorable moments, onstage and off.
Standing behind the counter of High Country Tire, Summer McMahan is a long way from the bright lights of New York City.
Outside the shop and convenience store, cars zip and zoom by nonstop down U.S. 441, either coming from Dillsboro to the north or Franklin to the south. And though the 22-year-old is busy ringing up purchases or talking up the locals who make a stop to High Country as part of their daily routine, McMahan thoughts keep drifting back to the Big Apple, back to Radio City Music Hall where she recently took the stage to perform on the NBC hit show “America’s Got Talent.”
There will be a “Welcome Home Parade” for acclaimed bluegrass act Mountain Faith at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 10, in downtown Sylva.
All eyes were on Summer McMahan and company. “We were all so nervous going into the audition,” she said. “But, once we noticed they were liking it, all the nerve went away and we had a blast. We’re so very humbled they liked it and sent us through.”
Covered in paint speckles, Drew Duncan walked into O’Malley’s Pub & Grill on a recent Thursday evening.
Finishing up work for the day, he wasn’t in search of the 50-cent wing special, nor was he heading to the bar for a beverage. Walking over to the patio stage, Duncan opened up his guitar case, adjusted his microphone stand and took a seat. Front man for Porch 40 (rock/jam), he was soon joined by Colby Dietz of Mangas Colorado (Americana/bluegrass) and Chris Pressley from The Buchanan Boys (rock/country).
Summer McMahan remembers the exact moment her life changed.
“Mountain Heritage Day [at Western Carolina University], 14 years ago,” she said. “I watched the Fiddlin’ Dill Sisters and decided that’s what I wanted to do.”