Fred C. Fussell is a writer, photographer and curator whose love of mountain music resulted in “Blue Ridge Music Trails of North Carolina: A Guide to Music Sites, Artists, and Traditions of the Mountains and Foothills.” The book, published in association with the North Carolina Arts Council, has been heavily revised and updated for its just-published second edition ($20; University of North Carolina). We asked him about his favorite places for traditional music and dance in the state.
Mountain Dance & Folk Festival, Asheville. “The annual event is a stage show held in an auditorium at Pack Place over a weekend – Aug. 1-3 this year. It’s a nice event that presents a variety of dancers and musicians who play traditional music. There are different people on stage every year – it’s never the same show, and there’s always good variety.” ( www.folkheritage.org)
Thursday Night Jam at Silvermont Mansion, Brevard. “It’s an unusual jam session, an open community event, with maybe 25 to 30 musicians when I’ve been there – sitting in chairs in a circle and playing old-time music or bluegrass . The microphone is passed among them, from one person to the next, so each musician will lead a song. I’ve seen the mike go around the circle a half-dozen times. Sit in if you have an instrument, or sit behind the circle to listen and watch.” ( http://bit.ly/WeHTrp)
Jam Session at Drexel Barbershop, Drexel. “On Thursday and Friday afternoons, and Saturdays at 11 a.m., they quit cutting hair at this little place and start playing music. Anyone who happens to be there is welcome to sit in and play, or just listen.” ( http://bit.ly/ygyxwx)
Waynesville Street Dance. “There’s a lot of dance involved with traditional music, and this event happens on Waynesville’s Main Street: They actually shut off the road and divert traffic. Musicians play and people are welcome to watch the dancing or join in. A group there does a sort of demo of clog dancing, then it opens up to anyone. The dance is one evening a week during summer and goes on for maybe an hour and a half or two hours.” ( www.downtownwaynesville.com)
John C. Campbell Folk School, Brasstown. “There’s no particular event, but it’s a great place offering a series of programs throughout the year – from music and dance to craft demos and workshops. Everything is devoted to the traditional folk life of the area. Some courses are multi-day, others are one afternoon or evening.” ( www.folkschool.org)
MerleFest, Wilkesboro. “This is a very large event (April 25-28 this year) – four days of activities that culminates in a big weekend. There are 12 stages, some small, some indoor, some outdoor on the Wilkes Community College campus. The last time I went, all the stages were going simultaneously during the day, with no sound bleeding over from one stage to the next. The main stage is an outdoor venue that can seat maybe 1,200. On one side of it is a big area with lots of kinds of food. On the other side is an area where they sell CDs, books and materials that have to do with traditional music. This is a great event.” ( www.merlefest.org)
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