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art theplaceWho in the hell is that?

Standing on the porch at Camp Hope in Bethel, I found myself in amazement of the sound echoing from the nearby pavilion. It was the inaugural Shining Rock Riverfest this past September. The voice was that of Indigo Blue Desouza.

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art theplaceNext week will mark my second Christmas in Western North Carolina. And, like last year, I won’t be making it back home to Upstate New York for the festivities. This has also been the case for Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. 

art warrenhaynesBy Joe Hooten • Correspondent

Asheville will once again be the home of the annual Warren Haynes Christmas Jam at the Asheville US Cellular Center Dec. 13-14, where hometown hero and all-around guitar god Haynes will present yet another impressive lineup of talent.

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art theplaceNamed of the “12 Comics to Watch” for 2013 by LA Weekly, Atlanta-bred comedian Dave Stone has been taking over the stage with his southern flare meets keen observations of modern society.

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art theplaceThe strings of tradition and progress echoed from the back alley. Upon further inspection (and a lone door cracked open), the harmonic tone was radiating from the mandolin of Darren Nicholson.

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art theplaceCruising up Utah Mountain Road outside Maggie Valley, one begins to get the feeling if they drove any further up the hill their vehicle might just disappear off the face of the earth. 

art frExiting your vehicle at Cataloochee Ranch in Maggie Valley, a cold, late fall wind hits you in the face like a frying pan. Standing atop the 5,000-foot mountain retreat, the vastness and endless beauty of Western North Carolina lies below. Heading towards the main building, you reach for the doorknob and enter eagerly. Soon, your body, mind and soul thaw to the sounds of friends, strangers and old-time string music.

“It’s just a different feeling up here; everybody is excited to be part of this,” said Billie Smith, event planner at Cataloochee. “We really open our arms to local musicians and folks from everywhere to come and join in.”

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art theplaceMy ears are still ringing.

From Nov. 1-5, I went and saw nine bands. Yep, that’s nine acts in the matter of five days. It was a musical odyssey, to say the least. If there ever were evidence of my obsession for sound and performance, ideal for my mother to give me that signature puzzled look, you’d find it following me around these last several days. 

art fr“I can’t sing.” 

“Nobody wants to hear my voice.” 

“I couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket.” 

They’re recognizable refrains, the shield of the perceived non-musical whenever the Christmas carolers come around or it’s time for someone to jump-start a chorus of “Happy Birthday.” 

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art theplaceI sat there, under old copper piping and newly formed spider webs, wondering where the hell my story was.

It was December 2006, and I was in the basement of the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton, Mass. A sit-down, pre-show interview with legendary singer/songwriter Peter Rowan was to be my first feature as a budding journalist. And yet, there I was, waiting outside his drab dressing room, listening to him snore and enjoy a cat nap before his performance in the coming hour.

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