This must be the place

I awoke with a bit of a chill in the air.

This must be the place

The instant the guitar chords echoed from the Mexican restaurant speakers, a slight grin emerged on my face. Immediately, the Asheville traffic disappeared from my urban patio view, where all I could see was that old farm town — far away physically, but oh so close emotionally.

This must be the place

It took me a couple seconds to realize where I was.

This must be the place

As I enter my fifth year living and thriving here in Western North Carolina, I’m also sliding into a space of reference and observation where I can now compare and contrast those subjects I continually cross paths with throughout my travels. 

Of which, I find myself running around in numerous musical circles, from Asheville to Franklin, Hot Springs to Murphy. And when you’re writing about all of these talented and unique acts, one thing sticks out — how far they’ve come.

This must be the place

I noticed it two rows behind me.

Sitting at the cold, hard tables of my eighth-grade science class in the fall of 1998, I thwarted away my boredom by gazing around the room, sometimes at the clock slowly ticking away on the wall, sometimes at the cute girl at the next table I’d hope to someday kiss at a middle school dance.

This must be the place

art theplaceYou can’t ignore it.

That little voice in the back of your head, always interrupting your daily train of thought, pushing up into the foreground of your mindset, pecking at you like a duck with a reckless abandon to get its point across.

This must be the place

art theplaceIt’s when you know you’re home.

Those places and faces, those sights and lights that truly signal the arrival back to your hometown. We all come from somewhere, near and far, and regardless of those miles between back there and where you stand today, there are several things that will always be a testament to your past — the dots that forever connect who you were, who you are, and where you’re going.

This must be the place

art theplaceI could see it in their faces.

It was something I felt before, and also had seen in pictures taken long ago of myself. It was that feeling of a sincere and honest connection to another human being, where you find yourself standing at the exact spot of your euphoric destiny, hand-in-hand with your significant other — it was (and is) love. 

The world through your fingertips

art frIt’s about speaking with your hands.

For guitarist Joe Taylor, his lifelong passion and career as a musician is one that finds itself at the crossroads of emotional purity and technical aptitude. With the melodic prowess akin to the likes of Jeff Beck, Bill Frisell or Steve Vai, the six-string ace has come a long way from his South Carolina roots. 

This must be the place

art theplaceIt’s a rabbit hole.

When one dives into a band, performer or genre, you find yourself swimming in the depths of an ocean of sound and tone, where the possibilities are as endless as the number of albums and acts out there, all ready to surprise you at a moment’s notice.

Smokey Mountain News Logo
Go to top
Payment Information


At our inception 20 years ago, we chose to be different. Unlike other news organizations, we made the decision to provide in-depth, regional reporting free to anyone who wanted access to it. We don’t plan to change that model. Support from our readers will help us maintain and strengthen the editorial independence that is crucial to our mission to help make Western North Carolina a better place to call home. If you are able, please support The Smoky Mountain News.

The Smoky Mountain News is a wholly private corporation. Reader contributions support the journalistic mission of SMN to remain independent. Your support of SMN does not constitute a charitable donation. If you have a question about contributing to SMN, please contact us.