Nancy Posey Bringing Her Wit and Humor to Showcase

Calls her role as emcee a mere ‘footnote’ to the Caldwell Traditional Musicians Showcase

By Michael M. Barrick

Note: This is another installment in a series about the 19th Annual Caldwell Traditional Musicians Showcase. A list of previous articles is below. The Showcase is scheduled for Sat., March 11 at 7:30 p.m. at the J.E. Broyhill Civic Center in Lenoir, N.C.

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Nancy Posey playing the mandolin. Photo by David Courtner.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Anybody who knows Nancy Posey – whether as a co-worker, friend or fellow wanderer through various poetry readings and art exhibits – is keenly aware that she is no footnote, wherever she may be. Yet, as we opened our conversation about her role as emcee in the 19th Annual Caldwell Traditional Musicians Showcase, Posey’s first words were, “I’m just a footnote.”

Posey, who taught for years in the county’s public schools and at Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute, is now living in Nashville, where she is teaching at her alma mater, Lipscomb University. She spoke by phone from her home there.

Patrick Crouch, of host group Strictly Clean and Decent explained why he’s thrilled to have Posey travelling hundreds of miles to corral the two dozen-plus musicians scheduled to perform. “She is a lifelong musician with a passion for humanities. Nancy plays mandolin, sings, writes poetry, attends workshops, conducts workshops, and supports live art before she has her first cup of coffee. After that, she gets busy! We are delighted to have Nancy as our emcee for Handmade and Heartfelt.

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Nancy Posey reading poetry. Courtesy Photo.

Posey added that Crouch didn’t give her a choice. “He said, ‘We won’t fire you. You have to quit to get out of this gig.’” That’s just not an option she shared. “I can’t resist. It’s the big bucks.” Turning serious, she pointed to the sense of community she continues to share with Caldwell’s musicians. “About eight or nine years ago I started to learn to play the mandolin. Part of the reason is I like hanging with musicians. I’ve always enjoyed music. I’ve had a chance to learn many ways to play.”

Posey continued, “What the Showcase does to highlight Caldwell’s music in wonderful. I don’t think people know how much talent is saturated in that corner of the state.”

Well before Posey takes the stage as emcee on the night of the Showcase, she will make sure she’s well acquainted with all of the performers. “I learned to get there early during rehearsal time and meet them. I sit out there and watch and talk to everybody.” She noted, “They’re not all about themselves. Everyone is about the other people playing. It’s a mutual admiration society.” She added that before sound check, she will have watched videos, visited websites and other sources to learn as much as she can even before meeting those musicians she doesn’t already know.

The audience, she said, “Will be surprised with the range of genres.” She added, “So I just can’t stand up there and tell bluegrass jokes. Though I will.”

What the audience doesn’t see is one part of the Showcase that Posey enjoys the most, because it reflects upon the overall tenor of the show. “I enjoy the back stage banter and seeing the level of professionalism.  It’s something to watch everybody getting ready to get on stage, the way they conduct themselves with one another.”

As an educator, it isn’t surprising that Posey enjoys showcasing the younger musicians, such as the Caldwell Junior Appalachian Musicians (JAM) program and an emerging group that writes most of the music it performs. “I really look forward to the JAM musicians. Showcasing that program is so important for the community.” She added, “I’m tickled to see Sycamore Bones.  I’m looking forward to seeing them on the big stage. They are some young talent that needs more exposure.”

Even though the Showcase is finishing out its second decade in the community, Posey observed, “I’m always hoping there will be new people that hear about it every year. Some people I see every year. I love the idea that there are people will be exposed to this for the first time and want to come back.” She concluded, “It’s amazing to me that Kay and Patrick can put together a different show every year drawing from local musicians. There are a lot of talented musicians there.”

Asked if she had anything to add, she explained why she would be only a footnote. “It’s Kay’s red cowboy boots. I just can’t compete. She raises the bar.” 

© The Lenoir Voice, 2017. 

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Previous 2017 Showcase Articles

Handmade & Heartfelt: Theme of 19th Annual Caldwell Traditional Musicians Showcase inspired by area musicians

Jimmie Griffith Exemplifies Showcase Theme: Music is handmade in Caldwell County and is heartfelt from his native Brazil

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Showcase Information and Performers

The 19th Annual Caldwell Traditional Musicians Showcase will be on Sat., March 11 at 7:30 p.m. at the J.E. Broyhill Civic Center. Purchase tickets here from the Civic Center. 

This year’s concert will include eight groups or individuals. The total of musicians performing will be around two dozen, in addition to JAM members.

Strictly Clean and Decent with Kay and Patrick Crouch and Ron Shuffler.

Caldwell Junior Appalachian Musicians performing traditional string music.

Ridgeline: A bluegrass band featuring Jim Matheson on guitar, Mike Nelson on banjo, Tim Greene on mandolin and guitar, April Flanders on fiddle, Larry Wright on bass, and Jimmy Houston on guitar.

MaisCeu featuring multi-instrumentalist Jimmie Griffith performing Brazilian music.

Max Waters playing Southern gospel, jazz, and blues piano.

Strictly Strings performing old time and contemporary string band music.  The band is Kathleen Burnett on fiddle and guitar, Anissa Burnett on bass and fiddle, Willow Dillon on banjo, fiddle, bass, and cello, Caleb Coatney on mandolin, banjo, and guitar, and Cecil Gurganus on guitar, fiddle, and bass.

Caldwell Junior Appalachian Musicians performing traditional string music.

Sycamore Bones with Cory Kinal, Andrew Massey, and Abigail Taylor performing original music.

Darren Bryant and Justin Clyde Williams performing country music.

Nancy Posey will be the emcee for the evening.

WVDEP Secretary Austin Caperton to Speak at Public Forum

West Virginia Sierra Club groups host forum Monday on WVU campus

austin-caperton

Austin Caperton

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The West Virginia University Sierra Student Coalition and the Mon Group of the West Virginia Sierra Club will host a public forum featuring the newly appointed West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) Secretary Austin Caperton.

Notably, the WVDEP’s new Environmental Advocate, Edward Maguire II, will also be in attendance. He was recently appointed to the position by Caperton after the recent firing of Maquire’s predecessor by Caperton, former WVDEP Advocate Wendy Radcliff. That decision was roundly criticized by environmental and public health advocates, as well as journalists, as Radcliff was widely viewed among open-government advocates as among one of the most transparent officials at the WVDEP, working in a hostile political environment.

The forum is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. in the Shenandoah Room of the Mountainlair, on the downtown campus of WVU at 1550 University Ave. This event is free and open to the public.

wv-dep-logoAccording to a news release from the Mon Group of the West Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club Chair, Autumn Long, “Caperton will comment on the WVDEP’s responsibilities as well as his priorities and vision for the agency’s future. Maguire will comment upon the role of the WVDEP Environmental Advocate Office in assisting citizens with environmental concerns and fostering communication with the public.”

Emily McDougal, WVU Sierra Student Coalition member and executive committee member of the Mon Group of the WV Sierra Club, said, “This event promotes community involvement on environmental issues and allows the public to directly communicate their environmental concerns to the WVDEP leadership.” She continued, “We hope this session will mutually inform and inspire Secretary Caperton and attendees to kick-start solutions to environmental problems in the state.”

Long added that audience members can submit written questions to pose to Secretary Caperton and Mr. Maguire via a moderator.

Sierra ClubAccording to Long, the Mon Group of the West Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club operates in a five-county region of North Central West Virginia – Harrison, Marion, Monongalia, Preston, and Taylor counties. It works to increase awareness of environmental issues and opportunities for active participation in this area. For more information and to find out about upcoming Mon Group activities, visit www.sierraclub.org/west-virginia. Questions? Contact Mon Group Chair Autumn Long at autumnlong11@gmail.com.

The WVU Sierra Student Coalition aims to protect the environment through political advocacy, education, and outings. Activities are planned during weekly meetings and vary from trips to the state Capitol and environmental conferences to recreational outings. Find out more at http://sierra.studentorgs.wvu.edu and on Facebook and Twitter @WVUSSC.

© Michael M. Barrick, 2017

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Jimmie Griffith Exemplifies Showcase Theme

Music is handmade in Caldwell County and is heartfelt from his native Brazil

By Michael M. Barrick

Note: This is an installment in a series of feature stories on the performers scheduled for the 19th Annual Caldwell Traditional Musicians Showcase. Check back for additional stories through Sat., March 11 when the Showcase will be held at 7:30 p.m. at the J.E. Broyhill Civic Center. The article introducing this year’s Showcase can be read here.

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Jimmie Griffith. Courtesy Photo.

LENOIR, N.C. – Jimmie Griffith is a multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter living in Caldwell County. But as a Brazilian native whose vocals are in Portuguese and instrumentation heavily influenced by Bossa Nova, Dave Brubeck, Miles Davis and other American jazz musicians, Griffith acknowledged that he’s not your typical performer one might expect to see in the Caldwell Traditional Musicians Showcase.

Nevertheless, this year he will not only be performing; he also will be exemplifying the theme of this year’s Showcase – “Handmade and Heartfelt.” That is because Griffith’s music is made right here in Caldwell County; he has called this part of North Carolina home for nearly two decades. But his music is also heartfelt, heavily influenced by his upbringing in Brazil, where he lived the first 19 years of his life.

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Griffith, who performs as MaisCeu, acknowledged, “I definitely fit into this year’s theme. I take it to heart, so I hope it will transfer to the audience.” He continued. “I grew up in a very rural area in Brazil in the mountains. North Carolina is a second home for me. Being in the mountains here helps me with my compositions. They’re written here. The root of inspiration is a crossover between my love for the mountains of Brazil and North Carolina.” Acknowledging that he sings in a language not very common in Caldwell County, he laughed but noted that his music “ … is very much about this place as well.”

In fact, he said audience feedback from the Showcase is something he seeks. “Since my music is not traditional, I just want people to come with an open mind. You don’t have to understand what someone is singing or the style of music to appreciate it. I welcome feedback. It adds to what I do. It keeps me going even though I’m not playing music common to the region.”

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Jimmie Griffith performing. Courtesy Photo

Griffith explained how that came to be. “My father is from North Carolina. He joined the Peace Corps after university and lived in South America. He met my mom. I was born and raised in Brazil.” He continued, “Dad loved music. My dad obviously had a passion for the music. He would play albums. So my music has some inspiration that came from the late 50s and 60s Bossa Nova crowd.” Bossa Nova, which places more emphasis on melody and less on percussion helps explain why Griffith says he is “most inspired by words and lyrics.”

Yet, his multi-instrumentation is essential to his creations. “My bread and butter is the guitar,” he shared. “I have other instruments I play on stage. I play flute, shaker, bells, percussion instruments, triangle. It just depends upon the song. Mainly guitar and vocals are present in all songs. I work to keep folks engaged with variety.”

Griffith concluded, “When I saw the lineup for the Showcase, I was excited about the quality of musicians. To be side by side with those folks is flattering.”

© The Lenoir Voice, 2017.

Showcase Date & Ticket Information

The 19th Annual Caldwell Traditional Musicians Showcase will be on Sat., March 11 at 7:30 p.m. at the J.E. Broyhill Civic Center. Purchase tickets here from the Civic Center. 

Performers

This year’s concert will include eight groups or individuals, including Strictly Clean and Decent. The total of musicians performing will be around two dozen, in addition to members of the Caldwell Junior Appalachian Musicians performing traditional string music.

Strictly Clean and Decent, a 26-year partnership of Kay and Patrick Crouch and Ron Shuffler

Ridgeline: A bluegrass band featuring Jim Matheson on guitar, Mike Nelson on banjo, Tim Greene on mandolin and guitar, April Flanders on fiddle, Larry Wright on bass, and Jimmy Houston on guitar.

MaisCeu featuring multi-instrumentalist Jimmie Griffith performing Brazilian music.

Max Waters playing Southern gospel, jazz, and blues piano.

Strictly Strings performing old time and contemporary string band music.  The band is Kathleen Burnett on fiddle and guitar, Anissa Burnett on bass and fiddle, Willow Dillon on banjo, fiddle, bass, and cello, Caleb Coatney on mandolin, banjo, and guitar, and Cecil Gurganus on guitar, fiddle, and bass.

Caldwell Junior Appalachian Musicians performing traditional string music

Sycamore Bones with Cory Kinal, Andrew Massey, and Abigail Taylor performing original music.

Darren Bryant and Justin Clyde Williams performing country music.

Nancy Posey will be the emcee for the evening.

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An Open Letter to W.Va. Governor Justice and DEP Secretary Caperton

On behalf of all West Virginians, I challenge you to serve the people, not your cronies in the fossil fuel industry

By S. Tom Bond

 Note: I have penned the following Open Letter to Governor Jim Justice and Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Austin Caperton; I encourage you to do the same or join us in signing this by contacting the Mountain Lakes Preservation Alliance at MLPAWV@gmail.com or use the contact page. 

Editor’s note: Both Justice and Caperton have long careers as energy company executives and have records’ – including recent firings at WV DEP – that the state’s environmental groups find counter to the DEP mission as does the Charleston Gazette-Mail. To get a sense of how things operate in Charleston, read this admission by former DEP Secretary Randy Huffman that the DEP is compromised by crony capitalism.

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Lewis County Farmer Tom Bond tells his story in the Documentary Film ‘In the Hills and Hollows’ by Keely Kernan

Dear Governor Justice and Secretary Caperton:

How is the air down there in Charleston?  Still clean? Do you plan to move out into the country near some of the new Marcellus drilling industry? Maybe near a compressor station with eleven of those big engines, roaring and belching 24 hours a day?

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Jim Justice

Or perhaps near a well pad where there is 24 hour light and noise and chemicals and diesel smoke with lots of PM-2.5 coming out the exhaust. Particulate matter 2.5 microns or less is now known as a cause of Alzheimer’s-like effects, you know. Going to bring along your grandchildren and your Mom along? Families like that live out here, and the young and the old are particularly susceptible to toxic chemicals, smoke, fumes, and dust.

Maybe you are like the famous story on Rex Tillerson, who has inflicted that kind of misery on many thousands of people. Then he complained when a water tower to enable fracking was erected in sight of his own piece of earth.

Do you think those who drink water without the taste of chlorine shouldn’t complain when their well is poisoned with a complex mixture of water slickers, detergents, and anti-oxidants, antibacterial compounds, and God-only-knows what else? Maybe they deserve car-busting roads and interminable delays when they use public roads too?

I can see you demurring all the way from here. I think that you are like Rex Tillerson, the ultimate not-in-my-back-yard guy!

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Austin Caperton

So you are going to govern the state for all the people.  For all the people of West Virginia – like John J. Cornwell was governing West Virginia for all the people, including the miners, at the time of the battle of Matewan? Oh yes! Those corporations provided good living for officers and investors, but not miners. It’s been like that since West Virginia was established. Wealth carried off, mostly north and east, but occasionally to build a motel in Florida.

So I’m being a little hard on you. You are just doing it to bring jobs, jobs, jobs, you say?  You do realize gas and oil extraction are capital intensive and labor weak, don’t you? That once the drilling is done by those fellows brought in from elsewhere, they will go away and leave few permanent jobs? You certainly know several companies are developing automated drilling, so drilling labor will go the way of coal labor, too.

Oh yes! Obama killed coal the fable says. You really know better than that, don’t you? Coal companies, going to more mechanization, especially long wall and surface mining that can use huge equipment, killed coal jobs. That Obama fable was a tool, using prejudice and diversion of the truth, to affect voters who were slow to catch on.

What moral code do you have that allows collateral damage to rural residents in peacetime to profit private industry? Forget for the moment all the externalized costs, the true cost of the extraction, the damage to other industries, global warming, destruction of surface value for farming and timber, recreation and hunting.  What justifies forest destruction, land disturbances, public annoyances, and public health for fossil fuel extraction? Especially when last year 39 percent of new electrical capacity was solar and 29 percent was wind power.  (Coal has been showing a decrease for the last two years.)  There is no CO2 from the renewable resources!

HAOL DCWA

West Virginia residents stand in solidarity against fracking at the first “Hands Across Our Land” fracking protest iin 2015. Photo courtesy of Doddridge County Watershed Association

How do you decide people are unworthy of protection? Simply because of rural residence? Those who can’t afford to move elsewhere, or too attached to the family plot?

Hey guys, people out here are probably more astute than you think. Some of us don’t think very far ahead, and few are articulate, but, given time, it all becomes too clear.

West Virginia has the highest rate at losing population in the nation.  We have the lowest ratio of employment to employable people in the nation. College kids have been heading for the door, and so are a lot of high school grads.

Is corrupting the environment and allowing the wealth of our state to be carted off by favored industries your best game? That is the past, present (and future?) of Almost Heaven! We country folks keep hoping for better!

S. Thomas Bond is an eighth generation West Virginian writing from his farm in Jane Lew, W.Va. He is a farmer and retired chemistry professor. He is interviewed in Keely Kernan’s Documentary Film, “In the Hills and Hollows,” which is about the impacts of the fossil fuel industry in West Virginia. 

Postscript: Please note the irony of the slide show of beautiful West Virginia scenery on the governor’s website. Let’s not let him have a pass on using the state’s natural beauty to disguise the extreme damage he has done to the people, environment and legal system of West Virginia. – M.B.

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Group: Proposed ACP Pipeline Poses Undue Risks to the Blue Ridge

Too many questions remain for FERC to approve the Atlantic Coast Pipeline says monitoring coalition

By Rick Webb

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In-stream blasting would be used for crossing the South Fork of the Rockfish River, a native trout stream in the pipeline corridor below the proposed drilling operation.

MONTEREY, VA. – The Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition (CPMC) has submitted a report to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) and the proposal to drill through the Blue Ridge Mountains under the Appalachian Trail, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and the National Forest.

The information provided in the DEIS is insufficient to support evaluation of the proposed Blue Ridge drilling operation. The scale of excavation is not fully disclosed or considered, and the results of critical geophysical investigations have not been provided. Identification of geohazards and evaluation of mitigation measures have been deferred until later, precluding a meaningful opportunity for informed review of the project. The published DEIS fails to meet the information needs of the public or the governmental agencies that have responsibilities related to the ACP project.

FERC must release a revised DEIS to:
1)  prove that boring through the Blue Ridge is a practicable option, by providing reliable and complete geophysical data
2)  disclose the extent of land disturbance and water quality damage the proposal would create
3)  include detailed, site-specific plans and pollution control measures for all alternatives for crossing the Blue Ridge.

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The Blue Ridge Mountains. Photo by Michael M. Barrick

The DPMC Report:
A High-Risk Proposal – Drilling Through the Blue Ridge for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline
Story Map Version
Facebook Announcement 

To learn more about the DPMC, visit their website: Dominion Pipeline Monitoring Coalition or contact Rick Webb, Program Coordinator at rwebb.dpmc@gmail.com.

Handmade & Heartfelt

Theme of 19th Annual Caldwell Traditional Musicians Showcase inspired by area musicians

By Michael M. Barrick

(Note: This is the first in a series of articles. Check back for feature stories on the performers).

LENOIR, N.C. – Kay and Patrick Crouch were relaxed – the kind of relaxed that is rooted in two decades of experience – as they discussed the upcoming 19th Annual Caldwell Traditional Musicians Showcase during a recent visit to their home.

This year, the concert, which is hosted annually by Strictly Clean and Decent – Kay and Patrick as well as Ron Shuffler – will be held on Sat., March 11 at 7:30 p.m. at the J.E. Broyhill Civic Center.

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Design by Ron Wilson

Patrick explained the genesis of this year’s theme. “Some years I have the title in my brain and then get the musicians that fit. This year, however, I had this group of people who I love and admire as people and musicians that I’ve been wanting to get on the show.  So, it will feature various styles of music – some is original, and it all comes from the heart.”

This year’s concert will include eight groups or individuals, including Strictly Clean and Decent. The total of musicians performing will be around two dozen, in addition to members of the Caldwell Junior Appalachian Musicians performing traditional string music.

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The grand finale from a previous Caldwell Traditional Musicians Showcase

In describing examples of musicians underscoring the theme of this year’s concert, Patrick pointed to two of the groups as examples. Speaking of Sycamore Bones, he said, “I’ve liked Andrew’s voice since I first heard it. It is authentic, as is his songwriting. Cory is also a great songwriter. Since he moved here he has been involved in music, coming to the showcases and other gatherings. They get the big picture. So, they are an example of ‘Handmade.’”

He continued, “Darren Bryant and Justin Clyde Williams play music that is sincere. They feel it. They are representative of where heartfelt came from.”

Everybody truly loves music. It is the universal language. The audience knows that. The biggest challenge is for the musicians to limit their selections.” – Patrick Crouch

Pointing out that 19 years of experience of preparing and hosting the showcase has made it easier for them, Patrick shared, “Now we have a tradition established. I already know what we’re going to do for the 20th.”

Patrick and Kay acknowledged that not every one of the more than 200 musicians that have appeared in the showcase as of this year are Caldwell County residents, but all have roots to the county. “It’s the traditional music that’s the connection,” offered Kay. She continued, “It’s good to connect with folks from outside Caldwell County. The real value is that these folks see what we’re so proud of.” As an example, Patrick pointed to Strictly Strings, a five-piece string band that plays bluegrass and traditional music. Three are students at the Watauga campus of Caldwell Community College. In a relatively short time, they have developed quite a following.

Music flows. It flows from the performer. It’s not something you think about. It’s what we do. The sign of an artist is playing whatever they want.” – Patrick Crouch

Patrick shared, “It is unfathomable to think that more than 200 musicians who live in or have ties to Caldwell County have performed. Our goal was 100. After 10 years, we had reached 128. When we started this, this was our stage that we wanted to share. It is incredible to think about how many musicians we have shared that stage with.” Smiling, and looking at Kay, he added, “It’s just the tip of the iceberg. We have such a community of musicians here. It’s going to just keep growing.”

He continued, “Music flows. It flows from the performer. It’s not something you think about. It’s what we do. The sign of an artist is playing whatever they want.”

That’s exactly what happens at the Showcase. Patrick sends out a schedule to the musicians, tells them how much time they have and how many songs they can play, but does not tell them what to play. He explained why. “Everybody truly loves music. It is the universal language. The audience knows that. The biggest challenge is for the musicians to limit their selections.” He continued, “I don’t give a lot of direction. Early on, we met a lot. Now it’s better to just let things be as they may.”

Kay pointed to another one of the musicians as an example of music serving as the universal language. Speaking of Jimmie Griffith, who performs as MaisCeu, and plays Brazilian music and sings in Portuguese, she said, “What he does musically is unique. If you close your eyes you would think there is a band playing. He provides a beautiful cascade of sound.” Patrick added, “Jimmie and I like to jam together. Even though he sings in Portuguese, the patterns and rhythms in his music blend with mine.”

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Strictly Clean & Decent

Besides the quality of musicians that play at the Showcase, Patrick says another reason for its success is how the community of musicians support it. “Those who don’t play in it still come out. Some come during sound check just to see folks they haven’t seen in a while. And, of course, we’ve enjoyed the support of the people of Caldwell County from the beginning.”

Sitting in a room surrounded by CDs, musical memorabilia, instruments and a recording studio, Patrick sat up in his chair and shared, “I stick my chest out when I say I’m from Caldwell County and am talking about our music.”

Performers & Ticket Info

Strictly Clean and Decent

Ridgeline: A bluegrass band featuring Jim Matheson on guitar, Mike Nelson on banjo, Tim Greene on mandolin and guitar, April Flanders on fiddle, Larry Wright on bass, and Jimmy Houston on guitar.

MaisCeu featuring multi-instrumentalist Jimmie Griffith performing Brazilian music.

Max Waters playing Southern gospel, jazz, and blues piano.

Strictly Strings performing old time and contemporary string band music.  The band is Kathleen Burnett on fiddle and guitar, Anissa Burnett on bass and fiddle, Willow Dillon on banjo, fiddle, bass, and cello, Caleb Coatney on mandolin, banjo, and guitar, and Cecil Gurganus on guitar, fiddle, and bass.

Caldwell Junior Appalachian Musicians performing traditional string music

Sycamore Bones with Cory Kinal, Andrew Massey, and Abigail Taylor performing original music.

Darren Bryant and Justin Clyde Williams performing country music.

Nancy Posey will be the emcee for the evening.

To get tickets to this year’s Showcase, “Handmade & Heartfelt,” purchase tickets here from the J.E. Broyhill Civic Center.

© The Lenoir Voice, 2017.

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Missing Those Quieting Tides

My mind’s eye meanders with the ebb and flow of the surf

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LENOIR, N.C. – Though born and raised a ridge-runner, I’ve enjoyed the ocean since I first ran and jumped into it at eight-years old. In my Bermuda shorts, t-shirt and converse tennis shoes.

Dad had driven the five of us over about 50 mountain ridges overnight to Myrtle Beach. It was 533 miles from our home, Clarksburg, W.Va. (I can remember that but can’t find the eyeglasses that are on my face).

sunsetSo, I woke up in the back of our Vista Cruiser station wagon along with my sisters in an early bright morning sun. There, outside the window, was the ocean. I got out the door, ran past my parents and proceeded to try and jump the surf. After I thought I had conquered the ocean, it cheated, hit me from behind, and in the surf my bottom landed. My mom likely and characteristically laughed, my dad was likely none too pleased, but he might also have been too tired to care, and my older sister probably just thought I was being silly. I probably tried to corrupt my little sister into joining me, as that was customary, but I can’t recall.

I may not remember all the details, but I remember that mom and dad were there. So were my sisters. And the great people that owned the motel we stayed at annually. And friends that came down from West Virginia at the same time. And a new “girlfriend” (I was probably all of 12) until she had to head back to Ohio after a few days … and mom cooking spaghetti in our efficiency. Dad taking us to play mini-golf. Mainly, days spent playing in the ocean and pool.

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Today, on a rainy, chilly winter day, I’d really like to be at the beach. I long for such peace and memories. But isn’t that human nature? To want what you can’t have rather than enjoy what is before you?

Yep. Even so, while I generally prefer a day in the mountain woods to a day at the beach, there are times – the off-season – when I’ll instead take the solitude of an empty beach. The lapping of the waves, the sand in the toes, the wind, the endless horizon, work in concert to offer peace and a window into memories I find nowhere else. Into an age of innocence that, from time to time, is worth pondering.

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Yes, many of these memories are captured in photo albums. But I like the meandering course my mind’s eye takes when it first hears the lap of those waves.

A quick note on these photos: during a very unusual week in a previous life, I found myself on both coasts of the U.S. in the same week. That might be customary for some people, but not me. In any event, I found myself watching the sunrise along the shoreline of the Atlantic Ocean near Garden City, S.C. on Monday. On Friday, in San Diego, we watched the sun set over the Pacific Ocean.

© Michael M. Barrick, 2017

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The Eyes of a Child (Part 2)

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In our last post, The Eyes of a Child, I wrote that if we all looked at the world through the eyes of a child, we would see only beauty.

Then a reader hit me with a dose of reality, pointing out that is not the case in Syria. I would add Haiti to that list, as well as dozens of other nations. So, to correct the narrow view I offered, I share this photo for your consideration.

The choice is up to us. We can wage peace, or we can wage war.

© Michael M. Barrick, 2017

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The Eyes of a Child

eyes-of-a-child

If we all looked at the world through the eyes of a child, we would see only beauty.

© Michael M. Barrick, 2017

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NC Mountain Catholics Slam Bishop and Attitudes of Priests

NC Chapter of the Catholic Committee of Appalachia says priests and bishops should “ … imitate more strongly the example of Jesus …”

Courtesy Article

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CHEROKEE, N.C. – The North Carolina Chapter of the Catholic Committee of Appalachia (CCA) has issued a statement of concern regarding the adequacy of local church leadership. Titled “Statement of Concern on Clericalism from Appalachian Catholics in the Smoky Mountain Region,” the statement identifies clericalism – the overemphasis of the power of the priesthood and hierarchy – as a pervasive problem in the region and in the Roman Catholic Church as a whole.

The central office of the Catholic Committee of Appalachia is based in Spencer, W.Va.

The statement is based on negative experiences of lay Catholics in the region in their interactions with parish priests, including inadequate pastoral care of the dying and demeaning attitudes toward Catholics from diverse local cultures. The Chapter opted to share these concerns with the media after more than two years of attempts to address the issues with the bishop of the Charlotte Diocese, who the chapter says has been unwilling to meet with the people.

The Chapter statement calls on the region’s bishops to acknowledge these problems and engage in dialogue with the people to work toward creative solutions, and offers prayers for a “change of hearts, minds, and pastoral practice,” that the region’s priests and bishops “would imitate more strongly the example of Jesus who came not to be served but to serve.” The statement can be read in its entirety below or at http://ccappal.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/CCA-NCStatement-on-Clericalism.pdf.

Catholic Committee of Appalachia North Carolina State Chapter

Statement of Concern on Clericalism from Appalachian Catholics in the Smokey Mountain Region
To evoke the Holy Faithful People of God is to evoke the objective we are invited to look towards and reflect upon… A father cannot conceive of himself without his children… A pastor
cannot conceive of himself without a flock, whom he is called upon to serve. The pastor is the pastor of a people, and the people need him within…. (Pope Francis, “Letter to Pontifical Commission for Latin America” (March 19, 2016)

Pope Francis tells us that in order to meet the spiritual needs of the community, the people need their pastor “within” that community. While many priests are wonderful shepherds for their people, our experience reveals that this is not always the case, and our connection with other Catholics in the Appalachian region indicates that our experience points to a much larger problem.

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Many Catholics in the central and southern Appalachian region feel they are talking to the wind. Their priests, especially the younger ones, do not listen to them. Their bishops do not listen to some of the priests or the people, and many of them seem not to be listening to Pope Francis. We realize the pressures on our clergy caused by the shortage of priests and the increasing spiritual needs of the people, but we feel there are pressing issues that need to be addressed in the short term.

There are flagrant examples of some of the clergy failing to care for their people and failing to see the suffering imposed on them, not only in the liturgy, but in the wider sacramental life of the church and in outreach to the community. A lack of responsibility is evident, even with regard to pastoral care of the dying. In one parish in our region, this happened at least four times in less than two years and two parishioners died without the sacraments. Likewise, funerals have not been scheduled in a timely manner, not allowing adequate input from the family of the deceased in the funeral arrangements. To date there has been no apology or acknowledgement, or even a response from the bishop in the diocese where this occurred.

Many of our younger priests insist upon imposing a uniform Roman culture while ignoring the rich diversity of Appalachian, Latino/a, and Cherokee cultures. We feel this is contrary to the examples of Pope John Paul II and Pope Francis. One bishop with a sizable Native American population in his diocese has failed to respond to the concerns of parishioners about actions of the priest which have offended Native people and their friends.

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Again, many of the younger priests, particularly those fresh out of seminary, have an arrogant, self-righteous and condescending attitude. These “restorationists” seem to be more intent on taking the church back to pre-Vatican II days rather than minister to the people. They seem to be steeped in doctrine and theology, but are unwilling to participate in ecumenical activities, and are lacking in compassion, love and mercy. They are doing the job of the theologian, but not the job of the pastor. This is directly opposed to what Pope Francis and Vatican II are teaching us. Many seem to have the attitude that the Second Vatican Council never happened, taking the church back in time while ignoring the teachings of Pope Francis that have brought a vibrant new energy to the church, reviving the Church’s relevancy for many Catholics.

Many longtime Catholics who recall the days before Vatican II, and who have been faithful to the church over the years, feel they are being treated like children by priests in their thirties. As a result, they are leaving their parishes in search of meaningful liturgies. In rural areas, this is hard to do, given the distances involved in traveling to other parishes. Some Catholics are going to Protestant churches, some seeking alternative intentional communities, and others not attending church at all. This has caused a great sadness on the part of many people who, for many years, were part of parish communities now fractured by clerical ambivalence.

We recognize that we are blessed with some very good priests who give a lot to the people and who minister in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council. It is not our intention to vilify the clergy as a whole, but to raise a prophetic voice in the spirit of love for the church in order to address some of the problems we encounter. Better communication and acknowledgement of issues raised by the people would go a long way in addressing the feeling of alienation that many parishioners experience. Addressing structural issues like the priest shortage necessarily take a long time, but some long-standing problems are able to be addressed more immediately, and it is past time to deal with them. Some of these problems, especially those related to the pastoral care of the sick and the dying, could be addressed creatively, for example, by empowering the laity to anoint the sick. As Catholic writer Matthew Kelly has stated, “God never goes back; he always moves forward. Adam and Eve were banished from the garden. God could have redeemed them and sent them back to the garden, but he didn’t, for two reasons: God always wants our future to be bigger than our past, and God always moves forward” (Matthew Kelly, “Rediscover Catholicism: A Spiritual Guide to Living with Passion & Purpose,” Beacon Publishing, 23).

We pray for our priests and bishops here in North Carolina, throughout Appalachia, and indeed throughout the world, as the issue of clericalism affects the church globally. We pray for a change of hearts, minds, and pastoral practice among our clergy, that they would imitate more strongly the example of Jesus who came not to be served but to serve.

About the North Carolina chapter of the Catholic Committee of Appalachia

As a network of Catholics committed to practicing the reforms of Vatican II in the region, the Catholic Committee of Appalachia has nurtured region-wide relationships of engaged laity working to create a church of the people. These relationships help us to see that the local concerns expressed by our North Carolina State Chapter are in fact shared by Catholics in many dioceses throughout the Appalachian region. The Catholic Committee of Appalachia Board of Directors endorses this statement and joins our N.C. State Chapter in asking bishops throughout the region to respond in a pastoral manner to address the concerns raised herein.

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About the Catholic Committee of Appalachia

Since 1970, the Catholic Committee of Appalachia has existed to serve Appalachia, her poor and the entire web of creation. Mountaintop removal, labor, private prison development, sustainable lifestyles and communities, poverty, health, clean water, racism and climate change are among those issues which CCA has addressed. CCA has taken responsibility for the organization and ongoing promulgation of two groundbreaking pastoral letters of the Catholic Bishops of Appalachia, “This Land is Home to Me” (1975) and “At Home in the Web of Life” (1995). CCA released a third pastoral letter, “The Telling Takes Us Home,” in 2015. Learn more about the Catholic Committee of Appalachia. Complimentary copies of the pastoral letters are available from The Lenoir Voice.

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