Tag Archives: Caldwell County NC

Helping Happy Valley, N.C. Return to its Roots

Incubator Farm Program set up at historic Patterson School

By Michael M. Barrick

HAPPY VALLEY, N.C. – With the grays and browns of winter having surrendered to the rainbow of colors that heralds the arrival of Spring, a new farming program is being launched at the historic Patterson School in this historic Upper Yadkin River Valley community.

The Patterson School Foundation has started a new Incubator Farmer Program, having taken the first, vital step – hiring a full time farm manager. In addition to helping oversee the incubator program, Ian Driscoll, a 2014 graduate of Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, N.C. will manage the 1,400 acre property.

Patterson Ian Driscoll

Ian Driscoll

The Incubator Farm Program will invite new and experienced organic farmers to lease up to half an acre to farm at Patterson, with the availability of farm equipment and mentorship, and with access to farm-related workshops through the farming season.

Driscoll, 24, is from Chicago and graduated with majors in history and political science. So, on paper, he might not seem like the person you’d expect to revel in plowing up an acre of land and working his hands until they have the unmistakable coarse feel of a working man. Yet, he lives and farms in Happy Valley,  just three miles from the Patterson School campus, and is experienced in many of the necessary aspects of farming – compost production, planting / tending / harvesting crops, greenhouse building, fencing, animal husbandry, swine and poultry production, grazing systems, mowing and operation of farm implements, haymaking, water drainage systems, lumber grading and general farm maintenance.

I’m more at peace here. I haven’t given it that much thought. It’s just seems natural for me.” – Ian Driscoll

Indeed, upon meeting Driscoll, one would think he grew up in this fertile valley that has been farmed since at least the 1700s, when the first European settlers planted themselves in this mystical and majestic river valley, an area once vital as a food source to the Cherokee.  He walks the grounds as if his feet have been rooted in the valley soil his whole life. Baseball cap slightly askew on his head, his blue eyes sparkling, even on a drizzly day, surveying the land he has plowed for the incubator farm and the first raised bed he was working on, he said, “I’m more at peace here. I haven’t given it that much thought. It’s just seems natural for me.” Pausing, gazing across the broad, greening valley, he added, “I don’t have reasons. I can’t explain why.”

He did share one reason he could explain. He met his very soon-to-be bride at college. Her home is Happy Valley. In talking with him, it sounds as if he fell in love with the valley almost as quickly as he did with the lady he is marrying on – appropriately – Earth Day.

Patterson walking path bounded by oak trees

A path at Patterson School shaded by Oak trees

Still, he is certainly not the first person in this valley to arrive from a distant home, feeling embraced by its ridges, woods and the meandering Yadkin River, still not able to explain the attraction beyond a sacred connection to the land. It was fertile ground for crops then, and is today. As Driscoll stood alongside his recently plowed field, he observed that the soil is so rich that it does not need fertilizer.

Comparing the valley he now calls home to Chicago, Driscoll offered, “I thought people were rude. There was too much commotion. There was no privacy, and nothing to do if you don’t have money.” In fact, he says he gets bored when he visits home. “There’s something missing,” he observed.

That something might be connection to the earth that he first experienced on a family farm in Wisconsin. He also mentioned that as a Catholic school student, he went on a trip to eastern Kentucky. He noted that while the region was impoverished, there was a sense of community – and perhaps, counter-intuitively – isolation that he found attractive.

And while eastern Kentucky is more isolated than Caldwell County, both are in Appalachia, so there are tribal similarities. Happy Valley has families that are descended from those original settlers. Some still have farms; even more have small family gardens.

Indeed the region has played a critical role in the history of the state’s rich agricultural tradition. Samuel Legerwood Patterson, the first elected Commissioner of Agriculture in North Carolina, was born in 1850 at Palmyra, the family home on the historic property. It, too, is being methodically restored.

We are alive and breathing.” – Liza Plaster

Despite that rich history though, farming is not as common as it once was. So Driscoll is determined to see that the incubator program helps folks in Happy Valley – and beyond – return to the region’s rich farming roots.

Explaining why he initially came to North Carolina from his home in Chicago, Driscoll said “I moved to North Carolina because I had received a flier from Warren Wilson College and was interested in the area. Although I grew up in Chicago, I did not like the city and was eager to leave. It didn’t take much for me to want to move here after visiting.”

He continued, “I had ties to farming growing up through friends and family members; my parents owned an 80 acre farm at one time that we lived on part time. I like to work and provide for myself; farming is hard work and you see your reward with what you grow and eat. Reviving the farm at Patterson School will be good for the community. Working there will be a good opportunity for new and old generations to get involved with the community and learn about farming.”

My mentality is that I’m to work hard. I’ve busted my butt since I’ve been here. Part of it is to prove to myself that I can do it.” – Ian Driscoll

He said that once the incubator program is running successfully, he hopes to hold workshops at Patterson that get the community, especially school children, involved in farming.

Indeed, collaborating with the Caldwell County Schools is an important part of the foundation’s activities now, said Liza Plaster, the foundation’s publicist.  In fact, on each of the visits to the farm, this reporter observed numerous school buses and children on the property.

In fact, said Plaster, the restoration of Palmyra, the strong relationship with the school system and the incubator program all send one message: “We are alive and breathing.”

Patterson school 1909 first day

The first day of class at Patterson School in September, 1909

Clearly, the most visible example of that is the incubator farm. “We want to create a way for people to have an occupation that was, at one time, a major occupation in this valley,” said Driscoll. He emphasized, though, that the program is open to anyone. “This is an opportunity for anybody to strike out on their own and save money too.”

As much as he loves the land, he is ultimately motivated by challenging himself to work as hard as he possibly can. “My mentality is that I’m to work hard. I’ve busted my butt since I’ve been here. Part of it is to prove to myself that I can do it.”

Contact Information

Driscoll can be contacted for more information about the Incubator Farm Program and about raised bed gardening opportunities for children on campus during the growing season at idriscoll41@yahoo.com

Related Articles

Crossing the River: The Catawba Valley and the Appalachians (1747 – 1849)

Horseford Bridge Connects the Piedmont to the Mountains

Note: All photos courtesy of the Patterson School Foundation.

© The Lenoir Voice, 2017.

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On Twitter: @lenoirvoice

Lindsay Barrick to Lead Caldwell Arts Council

Longtime Caldwell resident that benefited from the Council as a student is named Executive Director

Lindsay Barrick

Lindsay Barrick

LENOIR, N.C. – The Caldwell Arts Council (CAC) is pleased to announce that Lindsay Barrick will become its sixth Executive Director, effective April 29. During her time as the CAC Social Media Manager, Barrick has overseen the creation and dissemination of content on various social networking platforms. She has been a long-time advocate and supporter of the CAC, other arts venues, and many individual artists, musicians, writers, and thespians.

She currently serves as Director of Programs and New Media for St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Hickory as well as studio manager and printmaking instructor at the Hickory Museum of Art. A native of West Virginia, she spent most of her formative years in Caldwell County. Barrick is passionate about the arts and the people of Appalachia.

She said, “I am honored and thrilled to serve an organization I have loved since I was a young girl. It will be my great joy to continue the important work of Caldwell Arts Council: introducing school children to live theatre through our Artists in Schools program; preserving traditional Appalachian music through JAM; encouraging participation in poetry and acting through our annual competitions; supporting non-profits and individual artists in their vital efforts through grants; and presenting opportunities for artists and musicians to share in the thrill of exhibiting their craft.”

Barrick continued, “I also look forward to developing new ways to connect our community members and the arts. I have tremendous respect for former Executive Director Lee Carol Giduz and current Executive Director Adrienne Roellgen. I know much can be learned from their leadership.” She also praised the current staff, volunteers and board, adding, “Launi, Cathy, Bob, our dedicated volunteers, generous board members, and I already work so well together. I’m excited about the possibilities going forward.”

Barrick said, “Adrienne will continue to serve as Executive Director through April 28. We appreciate her enduring enthusiasm and love for Caldwell Arts Council. We wish her and her family the very best as they begin an exciting new chapter in Los Angeles.”

© The Lenoir Voice, 2017.

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On Twitter: @lenoirvoice

Caldwell JAM Students, Country Duo Round Out Showcase

Annual event offers rich diversity of talent for music lovers

 By Michael M. Barrick

Note: This is another installment in a series about the 19th Annual Caldwell Traditional Musicians Showcase – ‘Handmade & Heartfelt.’ 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.

JAM 1

JAM Members play for North Carolina’s legislators on ARTS DAY

LENOIR, N.C. – Students learning from the very best of traditional musicians in Caldwell County will be entertaining guests in the stained-glass lobby of the J.E. Broyhill Civic Center as they arrive for the 19th annual Caldwell Traditional Musicians Showcase. The students are members of Caldwell Junior Appalachian Musicians (JAM). Additionally, Blackberry Jam, a small group from Caldwell JAM will play on stage after intermission. It includes Kemdyn Koehler, Avery Sigmon Dalton Sigmon, Jacob Robbins, and Gideon White. Kay Crouch of the host group Strictly Clean and Decent shared, “We welcome these young ‘JAMers’ to the stage.” 

She explained, “JAM is a low-cost, after-school program designed to teach traditional music to children by ear, in order to preserve the oral tradition, and also to give them opportunities to play in both large and small groups.”

According to the Caldwell Arts Council website, “Caldwell JAM … is a program of the Caldwell Arts Council teaching students age 7-17 to play guitar, mandolin, banjo and fiddle with a heavy emphasis on playing traditional and bluegrass music by ear. The classes are taught by some of the region’s most talented artists, many of whom grew up playing old-time or bluegrass. Students also learn about the history of the music, take field trips to music venues, and spend time with musical elders from the community. Caldwell JAM classes are offered at Granite Falls Elementary, Happy Valley K-8, Hudson Elementary, and at in downtown Lenoir in old-time guitar, fiddle, and mandolin.”

JAM at Merlefest

JAM Students at MerleFest 2016

Also sharing the stage will be Lenoir residents Darren Bryant and Justin Clyde Williams, playing country music. According to their Facebook page, Bryan and Williams describe themselves as, “just two guys livin’ out their dreams, pickin’ and singin’ for your entertainment.”  Patrick Crouch offered that the humble description, “ … belies the dedication to their craft which make them two of the most in-demand musicians in Caldwell County. Their unpretentious, ‘what you see is what you get’ sensibility makes them both handmade and heartfelt.”

(Bryant and Williams) are two of the most in-demand musicians in Caldwell County. Their unpretentious, ‘what you see is what you get’ sensibility makes them both handmade and heartfelt.” – Patrick Crouch

In an earlier interview, Crouch 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, but all comes from the heart.”

The Showcase is scheduled for tomorrow, Saturday, March 11 at 7:30 p.m. at the J.E. Broyhill Civic Center. Purchase tickets here from the Civic Center.

The Lenoir Voice, 2017. 

The Lenoir voice on Facebook

On Twitter: @lenoirvoice

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

Nancy Posey Bringing Her Humor and Wit to Showcase: Calls her role as emcee a mere ‘footnote’ to the Caldwell Traditional Musicians Showcase

Strictly Strings Carrying on the Old-Time Tradition: Boone-based group brings energy, excellence and creativity to Showcase

Sycamore Bones Just Keeps Creating: Lenoir-based trio bringing their own brand of music to annual Caldwell Showcase

Just Don’t Throw Tomatoes: Max Waters personifies talent, humility and humor that makes the Caldwell Traditional Musicians Showcase a success

Ridgeline Brings ‘High Lonesome Sound’ to Showcase: Influenced by bluegrass greats, Ridgeline plays a hard-driving style

Showcase Performers

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.

showcase-scd-2

Strictly Clean & Decent

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.

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 emcee.

 

Ridgeline Brings ‘High Lonesome Sound’ to Showcase

Influenced by bluegrass greats, Ridgeline plays a hard-driving style

By Michael M. Barrick

Note: This is another installment in a series about the 19th Annual Caldwell Traditional Musicians Showcase – ‘Handmade & Heartfelt.’ 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.

Live Music

LENOIR, N.C. – Just like so many of the musicians that perform in the annual Caldwell Traditional Musicians Showcase, many of the members of the bluegrass band Ridgeline hold down other jobs that help pay the bills. That does not mean, however, they don’t entertain with enthusiasm and excellence; in fact, it is the passion for the music despite often having to work other jobs – that “handmade and heartfelt” approach to creating it – that has been a primary reason why the Showcase is completing its 19th straight year as an annual event in Lenoir.

Ridgeline features Tim Greene on mandolin and guitar, April Flanders on fiddle, Mike Nelson on banjo, Larry Wright on bass, Jim Matheson on guitar, and Jimmy Houston on guitar. Also joining them for the Showcase will be David Parker on mandolin. Kay Crouch, of host group Strictly Clean and Decent, has written this of Ridgeline in her program notes: “The band plays hard-driving bluegrass and bluegrass gospel music that is representative of the ‘high, lonesome sound.’ She added, “Their heartfelt delivery is the cornerstone of every Ridgeline performance.”

They’re just a great group of folks that make up the group Ridgeline. I’m very pleased with the team I’ve got together.” – Tim Greene

Greene expressed delight at the current Ridgeline lineup. “We have a great group of musicians with us. Most of us also manage careers as well. April, for example, is a professor at Appalachian State University. They’re just a great group of folks that make up the group Ridgeline. I’m very pleased with the team I’ve got together.”

He added, “I’ve been playing 23 years professionally. This is the lineup we’ve had for two years and I am very much pleased. The original band was Carolina Harvest. Two of the original members have passed on, so we changed the group’s name. Those folks were Clarence Greene and Doug Greene.”

nancy-posey-on-mandolin-david-courtner

Nancy Posey playing the mandolin. She will serve as emcee for the Showcase. Photo by David Courtner.

Greene has a long history in the genre, traveling here and yonder to play. “I used to travel. I played with the James King Band. I played with David Parmley and Continental Divide. There are so many to mention.”

While he does write music, Greene shared, “We will play some original music, and we do a lot of cover tunes right now.” He revealed, “We are in the process of writing and a recording our own CD. It’s taking time but we want to get it right. We want people to enjoy it. We want to be happy with it.”

I saw Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver when I was young. It was the original band. That experience told me right there what I wanted to do.” – Tim Greene

Ridgeline draws from a long line of famous bluegrass musicians. Greene shared that Nelson’s banjo playing is influenced by the legendary Earl Scruggs. The group is also influenced by the work of J. D. Crow. Greene recalled, “I saw Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver when I was young. It was the original band. That experience told me right there what I wanted to do.” He was also influenced by the Osmond Brothers. “There harmony is so pure, which is essential to bluegrass.” He continued, “April likes the old traditional music as well. She’s kind of in to some folk music as well. My step-dad and his daddy played the fiddle. They played a lot with Doc Watson when he was growing up.” He added, “Larry is steeped in the music of IIIrd Tyme Out, Ralph Stanley, Lou Reid and Carolina, and The Country Gentlemen. They influence us all. They were bluegrass icons. We look up to those guys.”

As a result, Greene is hopeful that those influences – familiar also to much of the audience – will resonate with those in the seats. “We want the audience to experience good wholesome music. We want them to enjoy themselves. We enjoy ourselves as we perform. When they come to a Ridgeline show, I want them to be pleased with the music and the show we put on. We don’t want to come off as better than anyone else. We just want to get out there and do the best we can for the folks.”

showcase-grand-finale

The grand finale from a previous Caldwell Traditional Musicians Showcase

Greene expressed joy at the opportunity to play in the Showcase. “I was born and raised here in Caldwell County. Larry and Mike were born and raised here. It’s a big deal for us, especially for me because I’ve played the music so long as I’ve traveled the United States and Canada over and over. I finally get to play in front of the hometown crowd. It’s a real honor. The others feel the same way. We’re all proud to play in front of the home town folks. It’s the first time for all of us.”

He concluded, “Patrick and Kay and I have been friends for a long time. I’m thankful Patrick asked us to be part of it. It’s going to be good. I hope we have a big crowd. It’s going to be fun.”

© The Lenoir Voice, 2017. 

The Lenoir voice on Facebook

On Twitter: @lenoirvoice

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

Nancy Posey Bringing Her Humor and Wit to Showcase: Calls her role as emcee a mere ‘footnote’ to the Caldwell Traditional Musicians Showcase

Strictly Strings Carrying on the Old-Time Tradition: Boone-based group brings energy, excellence and creativity to Showcase

Sycamore Bones Just Keeps Creating: Lenoir-based trio bringing their own brand of music to annual Caldwell Showcase

Sycamore Bones vertical

Sycamore Bones on stage. From left, Abigail Taylor, Cory Kinal and Andrew Massey.

Just Don’t Throw Tomatoes: Max Waters personifies talent, humility and humor that makes the Caldwell Traditional Musicians Showcase a success 

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.

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 emcee.

 

Just Don’t Throw Tomatoes

Max Waters personifies talent, humility and humor that makes the Caldwell Traditional Musicians Showcase a success 

By Michael M. Barrick

Note: This is another installment in a series about the 19th Annual Caldwell Traditional Musicians Showcase – ‘Handmade & Heartfelt.’ 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.

Showcase Handmade & Heartfelt logo

LENOIR, N.C. – In addition to “Handmade & Heartfelt” for themes for this year’s Caldwell Traditional Musicians Showcase, perhaps humility and humor should be added also. That is because that is what Max Waters, who plays traditional southern gospel music, brings to the Showcase.

He also brings a ton of talent, 50 years of experience, and the respect of his peers.

Yet, when asked what he hopes the audience will experience from his performance at the Showcase, Waters said, “Well, it would be nice if no one threw tomatoes.”

I just hope the audience has half the fun listening as I expect to have playing.” – Max Waters

He added, “Other than that, I don’t think the couple of numbers I’ll be doing will be a life-changing experience for anyone. Getting to play along with Strictly Clean and Decent will be a great experience and I just hope the audience has half the fun listening as I expect to have playing.”

If longevity is any indication, his set will be a hit. He explained, “Herb Miller, who was a member of the first quartet in which Lenoir native George Younce sang, introduced me to traditional southern gospel music when I was an 18-year-old boy. I’ve spent the past 50 years accompanying groups and singers in that particular genre.”

Kay Crouch, of host group Strictly Clean and Decent, has written this of Waters in her program notes: “Max is the consummate southern gospel pianist. He has a long history with Strictly Clean and Decent, having performed with Patrick’s uncle Cole Crouch in The Messengers, and with Ron’s brother George Shuffler in The Shuffler Family Band, as well as with many others. His playing is heavily influenced by many genres outside of gospel music but it is his joy and contagious enthusiasm that delight his audiences and colleagues alike.”

Max is the consummate artist who plays his instrument flawlessly and totally understands ensemble playing. Max’s joy and enthusiasm is more than contagious. It is a pure delight to share the stage with him.” – Patrick Crouch

Patrick Crouch added, “My Uncle Cole Crouch played music with Max many years ago in the Messengers Gospel group. He talked endlessly about Max’s musical knowledge and his mastery of the piano. Uncle Cole loved Max for his music and for his attitude toward fellow musicians. I had the pleasure of playing music with Max a few years ago and experienced everything my uncle had told me. Max is the consummate artist who plays his instrument flawlessly and totally understands ensemble playing. Max’s joy and enthusiasm is more than contagious. It is a pure delight to share the stage with him.”

Explaining why he enjoys gospel music, Waters explained, “Every song turns out to be a mini message in a powerful format. Some people will come listen to gospel music that would never put their foot in a church door. Gospel has the essence of blues, country and some traditional music. It’s not the same every time. And for me anyway, it is forever challenging.”

He explained, “I do like to do my own arranging, keeping the recognized melody in place but adjusting the harmony (re-harmonization) seems to freshen-up the old familiar hymns.”

Max Waters on piano

Max Waters

Playing in the Showcase is meaningful for Waters for a number of reasons. He explained, “I was born in the Kings Creek community of Caldwell County in 1948 and today live in the Kings Creek community not a quarter mile from where I was raised. Having traveled around the world numerous times I can say without hesitation that, as far as I am concerned, no place compares with the quality of life we experience in this part of God’s green earth.”

He continued, “The Showcase is special to me because it gives me the opportunity to play along with Patrick of Strictly Clean and Decent, whose uncle Cole Crouch was my musical mentor. Cole passed away some time ago, but make no mistake about it – the man was a musical genius whose guitar work was among the best in the business.”

He concluded, “I just appreciate the opportunity to play with Strictly Clean and Decent. I have traveled all over. It is quite a pleasant experience to play again with Patrick. It’s going to be a whole lot of fun.” 

© The Lenoir Voice, 2017. 

The Lenoir voice on Facebook

On Twitter: @lenoirvoice

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

Nancy Posey Bringing Her Humor and Wit to Showcase: Calls her role as emcee a mere ‘footnote’ to the Caldwell Traditional Musicians Showcase

Strictly Strings Carrying on the Old-Time Tradition: Boone-based group brings energy, excellence and creativity to Showcase

Sycamore Bones Just Keeps Creating: Lenoir-based trio bringing their own brand of music to annual Caldwell Showcase

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.

strictly-strings-4

Strictly Strings as seen on the cover of their album, ‘High on a Mountain.’ Photo by Martin Church.

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 emcee.

NC-based Sycamore Bones Just Keeps Creating

Trio bringing their own brand of music to annual Caldwell Traditional Musicians Showcase

By Michael M. Barrick

Note: This is another installment in a series about the 19th Annual Caldwell Traditional Musicians Showcase – ‘Handmade & Heartfelt.’ 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.

Sycamore Bones vertical

Sycamore Bones on stage. From left, Abigail Taylor, Cory Kinal and Andrew Massey.

LENOIR, N.C. – A few years ago, Andrew Massey was desperate. He wanted someone to play music with. His wife, Anna, was encouraging him to find more outlets to play the music he was beginning to write and sing. Finding a partner, though, isn’t easy. Especially when one is new to the community; breaking into a tight-knit musical scene isn’t always easy.

So, he put an ad on Craig’s List. Cory Kinal saw it, reached out to Andrew, and they’ve been playing together since. In short, even though Massey jokes the arrangement is “no strings attached,” he acknowledged, “We started jamming together and I went and bought an upright bass in South Carolina so we could start an acoustic band.”

That they did. Through a series of discussions, they settled on the name Sycamore Bones. In order to focus on those acoustic roots, the band recently added Abigail Taylor.

Massey, a vocalist who plays bass, is straightforward in his description of the band’s focus. “I would describe us as an Americana band, which is just a fancy way of saying that we take our style from a lot of different types of American roots music – Country, Blues, Bluegrass, Rock & Roll. We even like to believe there is a little bit of Punk rock in there somewhere.”

Kinal’s description is a bit more nuanced. “It’s hard to say what kind of music we play, we combine so many genres that its easiest to just call it ‘Americana,’ but I feel like that’s such a broad term. We play folk, Alt-country, bluegrassy, foot-stompin’ old-time. We play a little of everything everyone would like – or we hope they do.”

Kinal plays guitar, sings lead and, in his words, “sings sweet, sweet harmonies to the beautiful voices of my fellow bones.”

Kinal added that the band truly is hard to define. “It’s hard to describe the music of a band who plays a song about a newlywed couple promising each other everything in life then dying in a train crash, and then follows that with an uplifting song about not letting life’s worries and problems get you down.” He explained, “It’s like we’re working in unison to even each other out; it’s nice to sing some harmony on a song of happiness, when you’ve just sung a song of hard times and sorrow.”

sycamore-bones-1-bw

Cory Kinal (left) and Andrew Massey are the founding members of Sycamore Bones.

The purpose of the band’s music is clear, insisted Kinal, even if it is complex. “I hope our music exemplifies life, maybe not at its greatest, but at its deepest.” That’s why he said he doesn’t have a favorite song from their repertoire. “It changes daily or maybe weekly. I love seeing someone in the audience really get into a song. It gives me even more of a connection with the lyrics I’m singing.” He added, though,  “I’d say right this very minute my favorite song is ‘Saint Sophia.’ On the outside it’s about Saint Sophia and her three daughters, Faith, Hope and Charity who met horrific fates, but really I use their story to portray different aspects of my life, my own thoughts of faith, hope, love and charity.”

Taylor has been friends with Massey and Kinal for a few years now. She shared, “Andrew and Cory are a great mixture. Cory’s this poetic northerner and Andrew’s a heart-on-his-sleeve southerner. You’ve got kind of a gothic Country/Americana from Cory’s side and a wailing rockabilly from Andrew’s side.” She added, “I tie the two sides together with bluesy harmonies, and the occasional tambourine.”

Massey added, “We all love so many different types of music so to narrow down influences is a little hard. I know John Prine and Bob Dylan would be the first two guys I would mention. A few of my personal influences are also bands like Wilco, or the Clash and guys like Tom Waits.” He continued, “When I was 18 or 19 Bob Dylan blew my mind! This is probably the reason I picked up acoustic guitar and started writing songs. Something about those first few albums he had was like going to church for me. The simplicity and the faults in his voice, the way he used words really all connected with me.”

I’ve … been lucky enough to be surrounded by a huge amount of people that appreciate live music and support it every chance they can.” – Cory Kinal

Kinal explained why the moniker “Heartfelt” fits the music of Sycamore Bones as well as does the description, “Handmade.” He shared, “Everything, every style, every song is played with pure emotion. My influences are from punk to bluegrass and every branch of music connected to both of them. I’m proud to be surrounded by talented musicians and have been my entire life. But it’s not just the musicians that have been the greatest influences on why I play the music I do. I’ve also been lucky enough to be surrounded by a huge amount of people that appreciate live music and support it every chance they can. Without my family and my friends, I wouldn’t have had the courage or talent to start a band that plays mostly original music.”

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Strictly Clean and Decent (Kay Crouch, Patrick Crouch, and Ron Shuffler, r) are hosting their 19th Annual Caldwell Traditional Musicians Showcase

Still, the enjoyment of writing and playing original music is essential for Sycamore Bones. As Kinal shared, “I want to experience a relationship with every song we play and every audience that listens. There’s a certain feeling you get when you play an original song and you see people really connecting to it. I want people to have fun, to listen to the lyrics, the music, and really get as much joy out of our performance as we do.”

Taylor’s influences were somewhat different. “I grew up on Rhythm & Blues and Jazz; I didn’t start listening or playing the kind of music we’re playing until I went to college in Western North Carolina, where it’s everywhere! My singing style is still heavily influenced by R&B and Jazz singers. But I like to think it adds something just a little different to the guys’ sound.”

Each of the band members expressed confidence in Caldwell County’s future because of the Showcase, and spoke also of the privilege of performing in it.

Massey said, “I just want to thank anyone in the community who creates music, art, or owns a small business. It’s these people that make us who we are as a community and create a culture that we can take pride in. Keep creating!”

Taylor noted, “The showcase is a yearly staple of Caldwell County. So it’s just exciting to be a part of that tradition, and to also be a part of an event that people of all ages come to experience. We hope it remains a yearly tradition and that it continues to grow.”

Kinal continued, “We were all super excited to be asked to play the Showcase. I remember Massey saying that we’ve kind of ‘made it’ in Caldwell when Patrick and Kay ask you to play alongside the county’s best musicians. It means everything to us that they would like our music and performance enough to ask us to be part of their lineup.” He added, “Caldwell County’s story is so similar to my rust belt upbringing, so close to where I grew up that it has the same feeling for me as a town 500 miles away that influences many of my lyrics.”

Massey said the Showcase is critical to the community because, “Music keeps life worth living. It’s exciting when a whole community gets together to support that cause.” Taylor simply added, “I second what Andrew said.”

Massey concluded, “I think the goal for all of us is that people connect with lyrics of the songs. We all want people to feel what we sing and the words we write. I think that may be the most gratifying part of performing.” 

© 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

Nancy Posey Bringing Her Humor and Wit to Showcase: Calls her role as emcee a mere ‘footnote’ to the Caldwell Traditional Musicians Showcase

Strictly Strings Carrying on the Old-Time Tradition: Boone-based group brings energy, excellence and creativity to Showcase

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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.

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 emcee.

 Editor’s note: Abigail Taylor is also co-owner of The Lenoir Voice.

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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Take a Hike!

Mother Nature nurtures our souls with wonderment and beauty

By Michael M. Barrick

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MORTIMER, N.C.Wilson Creek is officially a National and Scenic Wild River. That federal designation, which took effect in the summer of 2000 is critical, as the purpose of the law according to The National Wild and Scenic Rivers Systems website, is “ … to preserve certain rivers with outstanding natural, cultural, and recreational value in a free-flowing condition for the enjoyment of present and future generations.” The National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson in 1968. Wilson Creek earned its designation only because of hard work and cooperation among county and federal elected officials and staff.

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The “creek” which is certainly as much like a river as the stream it feeds into – the Johns River – deserves the designation. Scenic and wild it is, as it tumbles thousands of feet in elevation over 23 miles down the Blue Ridge Escarpment through the Pisgah Forest in northwestern Caldwell County. Through the millennia, it has carved out steep and imposing gorges as well as quiet ponds for fishing or tubing as it nears it confluence with the Johns River.

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Harper Creek, a major tributary of Wilson Creek near Edgemont, N.C.

Its headwaters begin on Calloway Peak, the highest point of rugged Grandfather Mountain at 5,946 feet. More importantly to me is that a favorite spot on it is just 18 miles from my front door. Indeed, on my last visit last week – as I sat on a rocky perch overlooking the waters below and canyon to the north – a couple of determined kayakers were navigating its boulders and rapids.

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Perhaps it is because of how and where I was raised, but my soul demands nourishment from Mother Earth. Its wonderment and beauty is soothing. Add the challenges of a strenuous hike and the focus it requires, and you can understand the origin of the expression, “Take a hike!” It was probably a wife growing weary of her husband, “White Hair Curmudgeon,” grumbling and mumbling.

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I have been visiting here now more than 40 years. Formerly used by the Cherokee as a hunting ground, it was eventually logged by the first European settlers. It was once one of the most vibrant communities in the county, but two devastating floods – in 1916 and 1940 – made worse by the muddy slopes stripped of timber, stopped industry and settlement in Mortimer, though more than a few hardy souls live here and in nearby Edgemont.

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In the summer, it has its share of tourists. On a winter weekday, though, there’s a good chance you’ll see far more critters than people. Especially while the leaves are off the trees, it is where I go to “listen” for whatever I might need to hear; to interact with nature – hawks, whitewater, giant cliffs, rocks, steep paths and more – that are just not available in suburbia.

To paraphrase Jimmy Buffett, when I place myself in wooded latitudes, it does wonders for my attitude. So, go take a hike!

© Michael M. Barrick, 2017

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Read more about the National Wild and Scenic River Act

‘Back in Those Days’

World War II veteran Robert “Bob” Morgan captivates audience at Caldwell Heritage Museum’s ‘Coffee with the Curator’

By Michael M. Barrick

LENOIR, N.C. – Speaking conversationally with remarkable recall, captivating memories and fascinating details, Caldwell County resident Robert “Bob” Morgan enthralled the audience of about three dozen at the monthly “Coffee with the Curator” event at the Caldwell Heritage Museum.

Bob Morgan by Bill Tate

Mr. Robert “Bob” Tate personifies the best of Appalachian storytelling. Photo courtesy of Bill Tate

Mr. Morgan, 91, relaxed in an easy chair as if sitting in his living room. Gesturing with his hands, eyes sparkling, he preceded many of his stories saying, “Back in those days…” He punctuated his storytelling with numerous pauses followed by, “Now, that’s a story in itself.” And off he would go, telling the story that had interrupted his thought, wrap it up, and then return to the previous recollection. Read the entire article here.