In their own words: Smoky Mountain Folk Festival

The 50th annual Smoky Mountain Folk Festival will be held on Aug. 30-31 at the Lake Junaluska Conference & Retreat Center. Both nights will include a rich variety of the region’s finest fiddlers, banjo players, string bands, ballad singers, buck dancers and square dance teams as well as the marvelous sounds of dulcimer, harmonica, Jew’s harp, bagpipes, spoons, saws, and folk ensembles.

This must be the place: Let it wander on my mind. Goodbye, Neal.

Heartbroken and stunned. That’s about all I can say or feel at this moment with the tragic passing of singer-songwriter and guitarist Neal Casal. 

Where the soul never dies: Richard Sterban of The Oak Ridge Boys

It’s one of the most recognizable voices in all of American music.

When Richard Sterban famously coined the “oom-pa-pa-oom-pa-pa-mow-mow” bass solo during The Oak Ridge Boy’s crossover 1981 smash hit “Elvira,” he not only forever solidified his tone in the halls of country music, he also became a lifelong pop culture icon in the process. 

This must be the place: And we got to get ourselves back to the garden

It was 50 years ago this past weekend that Max Yasgur, a 49-year-old conservative Upstate New York farmer, stood onstage at Woodstock in front of 400,000 youthful faces of the counterculture and simply proclaimed, “You’ve proven to the world that a half million young people can get together and have three days of fun and music and have nothing but fun and music …”

The living melodic bridge: ‘David Holt’s State of Music’

Now syndicated on PBS stations from coast to coast, “David Holt’s State of Music” has become a beacon of traditional music and worldwide exposure for countless local, regional and national acts hailing from Western North Carolina and Southern Appalachia.

This must be the place: ‘Cause no one knows me like you anymore, as long forgotten as a debt I owe

It’s around midnight, early Tuesday morning. Just sitting here, thinking. Finally getting around to drinking a cold beer on a recliner in an apartment that I’ve barely called home this spring and summer. 

The rebel and the rose: Becky Buller to play ‘An Appalachian Evening’

In bluegrass, there are pioneers and there are pillars — Becky Buller is both.

A beloved singer/fiddler, the Minnesota native left the Midwest as a teenager for Southern Appalachia, all in search of that “high, lonesome sound.” And in her lifelong quest to immerse herself in bluegrass music, Buller has become a legend in her own right.

This must be the place: Living in the present, trying to forget the past

Persistence and gratitude. Those are two key words and concepts in life, personally and professionally. But, for this specific post, I’m referring to the professional aspect of the words. 

Keep on the sunny side: A conversation with Jim Avett

At 72 years old, singer-songwriter Jim Avett is a modern-day Renaissance man. Avett is a beloved Appalachian folk musician. Up at the crack of dawn farmer. Served in the Navy during Vietnam. A social worker for a period. And a welder for almost four decades. He’s traveled across the country and around the world, and never once losing that childlike wonder that resides at the crossroads of curiosity, discovery and adventure. 

Not the same ole song and dance: Folkmoot finds success in year-round programming, preserving legacy

In its 36th year of cultural exchange through song and dance, Folkmoot remains a moving target, one that constantly evolves in its programming, but never once forgetting its core values.

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