(Editor’s Note: This is the sixth article in a series on the 25th Annual Caldwell Traditional Musicians Showcase. Previous articles can be found here).
LENOIR, N.C. – “Abject Terror.”
That was Andrew Massey’s initial response when I asked him his thoughts about taking over hosting duties for the Annual Caldwell Traditional Musicians Showcase after March 4. Massey was asked by the Showcase founders, Kay Crouch, Patrick Crouch and Ron Shuffler of Strictly Clean and Decent, to be the new host as they step away after 25 years of hosting the Showcase they founded.
Despite his initial response, the smile that crossed Massey’s face suggested he very much welcomes the opportunity. After a moment, he added, “It’s a huge honor. And, it’s a little bit intimidating because it has lasted as long as it has.”
Indeed, the 25th Annual Caldwell Traditional Musicians Showcase: Heroes and Friends, will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 4 at the J.E. Broyhill Civic Center. Scheduled to perform this year is Strictly Clean and Decent, Milan Miller, Tall Paul and Kristie Bobal, and The Jon Boy & Lefty Band whose members are Jonathan Doll, Kent “Lefty” Spears, Coty Robinett, Wes McCall, and Andrew Massey. Former Lenoir teacher Nancy Posey will serve as emcee.
During the event’s quarter century history, nearly 300 different musicians from Caldwell County or with Caldwell County connections have taken the stage. The task of seeing that the Showcase remains true to its roots while moving forward with new generations of musicians is now in the hands of Massey, a self-taught Lenoir musician. Also a songwriter with a reputation of collaborating with and supporting other area musicians, he was the natural choice to replace Strictly Clean and Decent Kay and Patrick shared recently.
“The past 10 years there has been a resurgence in songwriting,” says Patrick. “The next generation are folks like Andrew. He is vital because of his musical force. Equally important, he promotes all musicians. He is generous with his talents and time.”
Massey is no stranger to the Showcase. In 2017, he and his band, Sycamore Bones, performed in the 19th Annual Showcase. While Sycamore Bones has gone through various lineups in the interim – not an unusual occurrence in any local music scene – it is still going strong.
After March 4, Massey will face a stage, sitting as empty and idle as a blank canvas – to be filled with musicians. Undeterred,. Massey shares, “Right now I feel like I’ve been given the task of what Patrick and Kay have done in the community for 25 years. For the first few years, I plan on keeping it pretty similar to what it is. We’ll keep in the Americana vein with lots of streams of American roots music. bluegrass, country, old time, blues and even some Rock and Roll would fit in there.”
He continues. “I want to continue with traditional music, while connecting with talented people that I come across. Taking it forward is going to require bringing people together with different musical backgrounds in the community.”
He isn’t concerned about running out of musicians. “As you get around, you are constantly running into talented musicians. At Open Mics, different venues, there’s a lot of talent out there,” offers Massey. He continues, “There is new and more songwriting and singing in the area, which means more venues will have musicians allowing all of us to enjoy watching new Caldwell County musicians. It would seem natural that from that growth, the Showcase would also grow in the types of music being played.”
Also, Massey promises, “We’ll be making some changes that longtime fans will recognize from earlier shows.” He also looks forward to the opportunity to bring his own work to the stage, sharing. “Songwriting is my favorite vehicle for creativity.”
Massey believes being part of the Showcase helps a musician or group develop an improved self-image. “I want them to think about being creators in their own neighborhood. Not what they hear on the radio, but what they’re playing. It’s as good here as anywhere else.” He continues, “I want the Showcase to still be an introduction. These creators deserve to be on that stage as much as anybody.”
To learn more about the 25th Annual Caldwell Traditional Musicians Showcase: Heroes and Friends, contact the J.E. Broyhill Civic Center box office at 828-726-2407. Learn more about the meal available before the performance.
© Michael M. Barrick 2023.
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