Archived Arts & Entertainment

Days we left behind: Arnold Hill to play Canton Labor Day

(From left) Arnold Hill is Heath Brown, Adam Blythe, Sam McCarson and Mike Yow. (Garret K. Woodward photo) (From left) Arnold Hill is Heath Brown, Adam Blythe, Sam McCarson and Mike Yow. (Garret K. Woodward photo)

One of the finer experiences of being a bona fide music freak is to witness and appreciate the growth and development of a particular group. You’re not only seeing new layers added to an ensemble, but also the continued trajectory of their artistic and creative pursuits.

For Sylva-based rock act Arnold Hill, it’s about the addition of lead guitarist Adam Blythe in recent months. Going from a trio to a quartet now opens up a bevy of melodic possibilities, which only strengthens the sonic landscape of its harder, electric sound in our backyard of mostly string and acoustic performers.

With the band now complete and off to the races, Arnold Hill has its eyes now aimed on recording a follow-up album to its 2021 release “How to Run” in the not-to-distant future — the wheels of songwriting and collaboration cranking at an ever-increasing speed of excitement and promise for the young act. 

Smoky Mountain News: Where is the band right now, in terms of aspirations, new levels of growth and creativity? 

Heath Brown (drums): We continue to refine our sound by writing new music. We’re working to write collaboratively as a band, whereas previously, we wrote in personal time and brought it to practice. We’re always listening to other new artists and each other to decide what we like and don’t like. 

Arnold Hill is becoming more individual in our work by developing the sounds we like and dropping old habits from previous bands or projects. Our intent does remain the same in wanting to have fun as friends and musicians while providing quality and professional entertainment.

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SMN: You added a new lead guitarist, Adam Blythe. What does he bring into the musical fold that can take the group to new heights? 

Mike Yow (guitar): Sam, Heath, and I have known Adam musically for over a decade, as we’ve played with him in several capacities. After our last project with Adam ended when his family moved to Eastern North Carolina, we’d decided that if the opportunity ever came about again, we’d rock with him. Adam and his family moved back to the area recently after about three years, and the decision was a no-brainer to add him to Arnold Hill. 

Adam did come to visit during the recording of our last album to hang out and add guitar sound. As a band, we looked forward to adding a different dynamic to songs than what we were able to supply on our own as a trio.  

SMN: Take me into the creative realm of Arnold Hill. You’ve mentioned that the band is hitting new and big strides lately, in terms of writing and constructing a fresh batch of songs.

Sam McCarson (bassist): It all starts by collaborating with each other to make a song we all think is interesting and would be enjoyed by others, while also meeting our musical curiosities and passions. Most of our songs are observational or based on some sort of personal experience. We like to write about what we see or feel. 

The process starts with a member sharing their lyrics or an idea, and as a band we then work to add music and complete the song. Onstage, we’re then able to not just play the song as we wrote it, but also perform it. Through this, we are able to show our authentic friendship and appreciation for each other — on and off the stage. 

SMN: The music industry is an odd place to navigate right now. What are the obstacles you’re coming up against, and how are you able to overcome those things? 

Adam Blythe (guitar): The music industry has changed, even from us growing up. Most people aren’t buying full albums or going to see smaller bands or buying merchandise anymore. We’re trying to navigate that, but it’s not our top priority. 

For instance, our upcoming projects will have a shorter track list, because that’s how people consume music now. If places stopped booking us today, we’d still meet up weekly for a beer around a bonfire to play and write together. We frequently do live-streams on social media because it’s fun for us and we try link it to a fundraiser or some way to support our community. 

For us, we’re all looking out for each other and working on passion projects that we self-fund because we love playing music together. This makes it sustainable, and still feels successful for us — we’re as much in it for the process as we are the outcome.  

SMN: Being an independent band in Western North Carolina, what is it about our scene west of Asheville that makes it so unique, rich and vibrant?

HB: The further west you go, there are less dedicated music venue specific places, so you get to be creative with non-traditional spaces, like restaurants, festivals, bars, or outdoor areas. This has taught us how to be professional when it comes to our approach and sound for the folks in those spaces. 

There aren’t a lot of “rock” or “alternative” bands in the WNC scene right now, so it’s refreshing to hear when listeners appreciate what we’re doing in these areas. There are also more diverse audiences with tourists and locals to be able to build a crowd or fan base. We also get the opportunity to work more directly with local business owners who share the same desire to build clientele as we do our listener base. 

We like playing in our home community and taking care of the businesses that also support us and the local music scene. As Asheville continues to grow, the music scene past Asheville will also continue to present more opportunities.


Canton Labor Day 

Presented by Champion Credit Union and sponsored by Ingles Markets, the 114th annual Canton Labor Day celebration will be held Sept. 4-5 at Sorrells Street Park in downtown Canton. 

Live music will begin at noon on both days. Hitting the stage will be CMA, ACM and Grammy-winning act Diamond Rio, as well as Americana/indie sensation Mipso, country rocker Joe Lasher, party-grass pickers Ol’ Dirty Bathtub, jam-rock act Arnold Hill, and much more. 

Tickets are $10 per day, per person or $15 for a two-day pass. Passes are not available at the gate. For more information, a full schedule of events and activities or to purchases tickets, click on

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