Arts + Entertainment

It was right around the third song or so that the goosebumps kept appearing.

Up and down my arms, the raised hair and skin resulting from the massive sound and stage presence of the Foo Fighters, the saviors of rock-n-roll in the modern era, one could easily surmise.

Just outside of a small Western North Carolina community known as “Papertown USA” sits a dilapidated 84-year old brick schoolhouse surrounded by an even smaller, mostly African-American community known as “Gibsontown.”

“It was a very boxed-in world,” said Billy McDowell, who grew up in the neighborhood. “That world was all you knew. The internet wasn’t here, and so the only thing we had was the six and 11 o’clock news, which we never watched.”

For a moment, I thought the dog was going to charge me.

Running along the quiet back country of Southwest Georgia, dirt roads that make up most of the escape routes into the abyss ‘round these parts, I could see the small creature out of the corner of my eye. Once I realized he had stopped at the end of the driveway, my primal instincts disappeared, my eyes aimed further down the bright dirt path my feet playfully and joyously jogged atop.

Why not?

Why not include Greensky Bluegrass in the sacred — sometimes stale and stuffy — pantheon that is bluegrass music? Why not include the Michigan group in the annual celebrations of string and acoustic music, which mainly originated in Western North Carolina and greater Southern Appalachia? Why not consider the quintet a direct descendent (a rebellious one albeit) of the original rebel himself — Bill Monroe?

We were pretty full of ourselves, I guess. Barely 19, barely finished with our freshman year in college, having left our provincial little town behind for the urban chaos and the infinite possibilities of university life just over a year ago. Now here we were again, back in town for the summer. We knew we were going back to school soon enough, so we wanted to cram every bit of experience and drunken camaraderie into those last few weeks together before packing up our junk, moving back into the dorm, settling on a major, and getting serious about the future after a few false starts and narrow escapes during our freshman year.

Tom Petty.

I can’t remember a time without him and his band’s music in my life. It’s always been there, just like Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson have always been there for my parents’ generation. I grew up on the sounds of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. We all did. Every single one of us, whether we realize it or not.

At one time or another, many of us have thought about giving up on the hustling, bustling daily life of the modern world — especially on those mornings where you wake up feeling like Charles Bukowski.

Two Canton residents lucky enough to do so are so grateful for the opportunity that their first instinct was to give back.

It’s the intersection of American blues and British rock.

When you throw some Foghat onto the stereo, you’re entering a realm as big and powerful as the tunes radiating from a quartet that was at the heart of the soundtrack of the 1970s.

In the bluegrass world, it doesn’t get much bigger than Rob Ickes.

Fifteen-time “Dobro Player of the Year” by the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA), Ickes was a founding member of Blue Highway, a group as innovative to the genre as they were successful.

It gets to the point without distraction.

Folk music — the intersection of the human heart and the greater world — lies at the foundation of American culture. From the folk traditions and musicians of the British Isles that eventually made their way to the high peaks and low valleys of Southern Appalachia centuries ago, folk music is a timeless sound nurturing urgent lyrics.

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