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Wednesday, 03 May 2017 14:40

‘If You Can’t Play, Get Off the Stage’

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Diving into the rich, vibrant and controversial history of bluegrass music, If You Can’t Play, Get Off the Stage: Bluegrass in Western North Carolina and Beyond is the debut work from Garret K. Woodward, arts/entertainment editor for The Smoky Mountain News.

The book features interviews, profiles, quotes and conversations with the biggest names in bluegrass, mountain and string music, including: Balsam Range, Bobby Osborne, Claire Lynch, David Grisman, David Holt, Del McCoury, Doyle Lawson, Jesse McReynolds, John Cowan, Larry Sparks, Marty Stuart, Peter Rowan, Raymond Fairchild, Rhiannon Giddens, Rhonda Vincent, Ricky Skaggs, Sam Bush, Tim O’Brien, and many more.

Woodward was born and raised in the tiny Canadian border town of Rouses Point, New York — on the shores of Lake Champlain and in the shadow of the Adirondack Mountains. He graduated from Quinnipiac University (Hamden, Connecticut) in 2007 with degrees in journalism and history.

After stints in Lake Placid, New York, and County Kerry, Ireland, he landed his first reporting gig at the Teton Valley News in Driggs, Idaho. In 2008, the Idaho Press Club awarded him first place for “Best Light Feature” for his story “Chasing the American Dream of Breakfast.”

From there, Woodward crisscrossed America for several years as a music journalist, covering backyard get-togethers and renowned festivals like Burning Man, Rothbury, Grand Targhee, Outside Lands and Wakarusa. Since 2012, he has been the arts/entertainment editor for The Smoky Mountain News, and was recently named the music editor for Smoky Mountain Living magazine, both based in Waynesville, North Carolina.

In 2015, he won first place in the North Carolina Press Association awards for “Arts & Entertainment Reporting” for his cover story “Bless Your Heart — The State of Women in Bluegrass.” In 2016, Woodward was nominated for “Bluegrass Print/Media Person of the Year” by the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA). The NCPA also recognized him with another first place in 2016 for “Lighter Columns” for his weekly column in The Smoky Mountain News, “This must be the place.”

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