Shine on you crazy Miners

By Chris Cooper

A few years ago there was this gangly guy with a mop of shaggy blonde hair sitting on a bench reading Beneath The Wheel by Herman Hesse. I recognized the book because a friend of mine had recently acquired a copy, and I’d made a half-hearted attempt to work my way through it.

‘Rainbows’ plays as Radiohead should

There was an interesting coincidence on July 11, 2006. Thom Yorke released Eraser to mixed reviews, and the same day a band that still desperately wants to be Radiohead (that would be Muse) dropped their newest, Black Holes And Revelations.

A few notes on 2007

By Chris Cooper

Looking back on the albums and/or shows (be they local, regional or major label offerings) I’ve had the opportunity to write about over the last year, two things struck me: 1) that I was lucky enough to hear all this music in the first place, sometimes even for free, and 2) that I wouldn’t have heard any of it on the “radio.” I know, that’s a pretty easy target these days. The real challenge might be finding anybody that doesn’t hate mainstream radio.

Warren Haynes’ 19th Annual Christmas Jam — mostly

By Chris Cooper

Before getting started, let me say that I completely missed Grace Potter’s performance at the Christmas Jam. Heard she was fantastic. Didn’t see Jackson Browne either — heard he was a little depressing. In fact, once I arrived at the Asheville Civic Center (and by the time we’d succumbed to defeat in finding anything resembling “convenient” parking, found a lot at street level and climbed that massive hill to the front entrance) my nose was frozen, my fingers were numb and Bruce Hornsby was finishing up “End Of The Innocence.”

It’s Grammy season ... do you care?

We’re rapidly approaching that part of the year referred to endearingly as “Grammy Season.” This is the time when we all gather round our televisions, going through post-Christmas/New Year’s holiday withdrawal, ready for another up close and personal reminder that, yes, pop music is in deep, deep trouble.

Trischka doubles the pleasure with modern banjo greats

By Chris Cooper

It hardly needs to be said that the banjo has taken major leaps in the hands of certain talented players over the years. It’s job as the “rhythmic glue” in traditional bluegrass continues, but has also evolved and found a unique voice in the more complex harmonies of jazz, “newgrass,” and all points in between. And the award winning playing of Tony Trischka has been a major force in taking the instrument to these new places for some 40 years or so.

Krauss and Plant deliver no less than expected

By Chris Cooper

It’s not such an odd pairing when you think about it; two voices as recognizable as these, weaving and twisting around each other, using their considerable interpretive skills on a set of songs written by the likes of Tom Waits, the Everly Brothers, Sam Phillips and Townes Van Zandt. Plant’s music, either with the band that made him part of rock’s pantheon or on his solo efforts, has often been sprinkled with early blues, 50’s rockabilly, world music and the pastoral shades that bluegrass’s traditional instrumentation (acoustic guitars, mandolin and banjo played by band mates Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones) can provide.

Ever-evolving, always surprising

By Chris Cooper

Mountain Heart released a fantastic album last year with Wide Open, demonstrating a remarkable ability to make modern, crossover friendly bluegrass without sacrificing one bit of musicality and soul.

Island music in the mountains: Western Carolina University’s gamelan orchestra helps share the music of Malaysian culture

By Michael Beadle

A few days before Halloween, strange sounds were coming from room 451 in the Coulter Building on the campus of Western Carolina University.

Halloween Ramblings, 2007

There’s a connection between being a musician and Halloween that goes beyond the obvious skulls/pumpkins/fake blood/heavy metal stereotype, at least for me. It’s a holiday where you can be as nutty as you want; roll yourself in tinfoil and carry a samurai sword around all day? Great! I had some friends in Charlotte that decided to make themselves into “human fruit baskets” one year. Let’s just say that the costume involved a huge amount of Saran wrap, some strategically placed apples and bananas, and nothing more. Eeek.

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.