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.
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.
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.”
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
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.
On Twitter: @lenoirvoice