Garret K. Woodward
It was just about 9 p.m. last Saturday (central standard time) when I found myself side stage at the legendary Ryman Auditorium — the “Mother Church” — in the heart of Nashville, Tennessee.
In its second year, the North Carolina Guitar Celebration in Brevard has much to celebrate — the sacred six-string instrument itself, a genuine moment of togetherness and the 100th birthday of the late Doc Watson.
Recently, I came across a real estate listing for a house while scrolling Facebook. It was located on the east side of Jackson, Wyoming. In the shadow of the Grand Teton Mountains, any and all homes and undeveloped land are a mad scramble to bid on and purchase.
Hello from Room 209 at the Home2 Suites by Hilton on the outskirts of downtown Decatur, Alabama. It’s Monday morning. Cloudy skies and temperatures pushing 80 degrees by mid-morning.
A former Baptist preacher and military veteran, Abe Partridge is now regarded as one of the most unique and captivating singer-songwriters currently emerging from the Southeast.
Hello from Room 5218 in the Falls Cottage King Suite at the Old Edwards Inn in downtown Highlands. It’s late Sunday morning with a slight drizzle and cool mountain air after two days of sunshine and mild temperatures.
Growing up in Detroit, Michigan, Greg Wasik saw firsthand that trademark sense of community at neighborhood taverns around the Motor City. And that genuine scene of friendship and fellowship is something still deeply cherished within him.
Last Friday afternoon marked the first “Downtown After 5” on Lexington Avenue in the heart of Asheville. The unofficial kickoff to the summer and all of its impending shenanigans in the name of irresponsible enlightenment. A hot sun hung high above the city as the multitudes rolled in from seemingly every direction.
Sitting backstage at the Asheville Music Hall, Neal Francis takes a moment to collect himself and think about where he stands right now — spiritually and artistically.
Dropping my girlfriend off at her house in West Asheville, it was a warm, sunny Saturday afternoon. She was headed to South Carolina to spend time with her best friend. I decided to track down a new trail to jog down.
Sliding into a booth at Meatballs Pizzeria in downtown Sylva, Crystal Pace and Santiago Guzzetti gaze out onto a bustling Main Street rushing by the front windows. It’s been a longtime dream of Pace’s to do just this — to simply sit down and eat pizza in Meatballs.
It was a spur of the moment decision. Cold suds and hearty banter at The Scotsman in Waynesville on an otherwise quiet Tuesday evening. Leaning back into the bar stool, I suggested to my girlfriend that she and I should go see a baseball game.
Last weekend, guitarist Seth Taylor and his band, longtime bluegrass staple Mountain Heart, once again took the stage under the bright lights at the legendary Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee.
Hello from Room 519 at the Canvas Hotel in downtown Dallas, Texas. It’s almost 80 degrees. Monday morning. Bluebird skies with a welcomed breeze rolling through the vast landscape of the Lone Star State.
Showcased at the Chief Joyce Dugan Cultural Arts Center in Cherokee, the new exhibition, “Behind the Mask: Cherokee Mask Makers and their Legacy,” aims to reinforce the significance of Cherokee masks — their history and use, as well as their meaning and significance.
With its latest concept album, “iTopia,” Asheville-based indie-rockers The Get Right Band have offered up food for thought on where we currently stand as a society — this juxtaposition of humanity and technology in the emerging 21st century.
Hello from the backstage area at the Suwannee Spring Reunion music festival in Live Oak, Florida. It’s hot and humid. Mid-80s and blue skies. But a cool breeze greets me as I sit and type away underneath the Spanish moss hanging in the oak trees overhead.
In the sacred realm that is rock-n-roll music, the formation of the power trio remains iconic. On paper, it’s a straightforward setup of electric guitar, bass, and drums. But, in method, it conjures an immortal, melodic triangle of intricate sound and improvisation possibility.
Hello from Lemon Street on the outskirts of downtown St. Augustine, Florida. It’s about 62 degrees and sunny. Slight breeze. Blue skies. Early Monday afternoon and the only plan at the moment is to wander down to the beach on Anastasia Island within the hour.
The last time I saw my Uncle Bobby was about four years ago, high up on some floor in the VA Hospital in the depths of Albany, New York. I had just picked up a bag of cheese puffs and a cold bottle of Pepsi at the VA’s basement store/gift shop. Knowing those were my uncle’s favorite snacks, there was a smile ear-to-ear when I walked into his room and handed him the junk food.
At 94 years young, Ben Best is proud of several things in his long, bountiful life — a marriage of 67 years and counting, raising three healthy sons, being a grandfather, a loyal friend to many, and a hard-scrabble Haywood County farmer.
On Aug. 10, 2012, I took on my first assignment for The Smoky Mountain News. It was the “Papertown” album release show by Haywood County bluegrass sensation Balsam Range.
It’s 12:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Southern Porch restaurant in the heart of downtown Canton. Less than 24 hours ago, the mountain community received word that its century-old paper mill would close this summer.
From humble beginnings as a teenage singer-songwriter in his native Texas to gracing some of the most iconic stages the world over, Lyle Lovett remains a true American musical treasure.
About 10:30 a.m. last Tuesday, I laced up my running shoes and walked out the front door of the small hotel room in the Treme neighborhood of New Orleans, Louisiana. Blue skies, sunshine and warm air.
Hello from Room 1D at the Rathbone Mansion, just a few blocks from the French Quarter in New Orleans. It’s Tuesday (aka: “Fat Tuesday”).
This must be the place: Life is what you make it, and if you make it death, well rest your soul away
It was nearing midnight on Saturday. The rock band in the corner of the bar had just put the finishing touches on its evening set. Packing up their gear, the rest of us in the crowd headed towards the bar counter to pay up for our libations.
I caught first word of The Weathercock burning to the ground mid-afternoon on Saturday. Scrolling the Facebook news feed, I came across a photo of a familiar old building engulfed in flames, a huge plume of smoke radiating into the skies high above the small North Country town of Chazy, New York.
This must be the place: ‘Either way I wonder sometimes about the outcome of a still verdictless life’
With my 38th birthday right around the corner, I went on a first date last week. It seemed to go well enough that we met back up the very next night to continue our enjoyable conversation from the previous rendezvous.
Hello from Room 827 at the Marriott Town Center in downtown Charleston, West Virginia. The outside temperature is dropping, all while soft snowflakes cascade by the hotel window onto the cold pavement below.
This must be the place: ‘Goin’ places that I’ve never been, seein’ things that I may never see again’
There’s an old backpack in my apartment. I’ve had it since college. And since those academic days back in Connecticut and greater New England, it’s held my road journals.
Sitting in The Scotsman in downtown Waynesville on Sunday evening, I found myself sporadically watching the last NFL game of the season as the Detroit Lions eventually overtook the Green Bay Packers.
With the recent departure of founding member Woody Platt, the Steep Canyon Rangers found themselves at a crossroads — now what?
As it has been stated in this publication many times before, the litmus test of the strength of a community is by how strongly its arts is supported.
New Year’s Eve. A little past 9 a.m. in Room 211 of the Holiday Inn Express on the outskirts of Nashville, Tennessee, within earshot of the airport and the bustling Interstate 40.
It’s 2:54 a.m. in the rural backwoods of Virginia and Vince Herman hands me a shot of high-end tequila. With his trademark Cheshire Cat grin, Herman then pours himself a shot, soon raising it high into the air in honor of another incendiary performance.
This must be the place: ‘You will receive a big compliment from others. Lucky numbers: 15, 18, 30, 32, 40, 42’
It was another quiet Sunday morning in the ole humble abode in downtown Waynesville. But, this go-round, it was Christmas morning. Emerge from bed. Grab a glass of water. Check emails. Open the front door and check how much colder today is than yesterday.
Sunday morning. Across the globe, Argentina and France were battling it out in the World Cup soccer final in Qatar. Half-a-world away, and yet I was already a half-hour late for the early morning “Bloody Marys & Futbol” party up the mountain ridge outside of town at my friend’s house.
In the depths of the Fangmeyer Theatre, on the property of the Haywood Arts Regional Theatre (HART), just down the hill from Main Street in Waynesville, Steven Lloyd sits behind his desk.
It’s 51 degrees with a warm sun and blue skies hovering above downtown Waynesville. A little after 2 p.m. Monday with a cup o’joe in-hand while sitting at Orchard Coffee. Folks milling about in conversation, others simply reading a book or typing away.
After four years of radio silence, the nationally revered Warren Haynes Christmas Jam will return for its 31st installment on Saturday, Dec. 10, at the Harrah’s Cherokee Event Center in Asheville.
Hello from Room 128 at the Red Roof Inn in Hardeeville, South Carolina, just north of the Georgia state line off Interstate 95. It’s 10:01 a.m. Yesterday, I awoke in Room 208 at the Hampton Inn outside of Lake Wales, Florida.
As of yesterday, Monday, Nov. 28, I’ve run 2,525 days in a row. I hadn’t checked in on “the streak” in a while, but was curious at where it stood after coming across a 2021 article for Outside magazine, titled “The Minds and Habits of Master Streakers.”
Writers’ Note: Since I started in the position of arts and entertainment editor at The Smoky Mountain News in 2012, I’ve been able to dive deep into the legend and lore of bluegrass sensation Balsam Range.
In a year that’ll surely end on a bittersweet note, beloved Haywood County bluegrass sensation Balsam Range is not only celebrating 15 years together, the band is also saying goodbye to one of its founding members, mandolinist Darren Nicholson.
I was about an hour behind schedule leaving my native Plattsburgh, New York, the truck aimed for Waynesville and greater Western North Carolina. Some 1,100 miles in one direction, and yet it was already 1 p.m. on Thursday when I finally embarked from my folks’ farmhouse.
At just 31 years old, Sierra Hull is already a legend in the bluegrass world. With her signature songbird vocals and mandolin virtuosity, the performer has also taken home “Mandolin Player of the Year” at the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) awards five times.
This must be the place: One man practicing kindness in the wilderness is worth all the temples this world pulls
I had about an hour window of no rain before the remnants of the tropical storm would slowly, but surely, slide into the North Country. The clouds were already darkening above the Adirondack Mountains as the nose of the truck was aimed west, heading out from my parents’ farmhouse on the outskirts of Plattsburgh, New York.
In conversation, Fred Chappell is a man of few words and sentiments. Perhaps that’s because he uses all of his vocabulary and emotions to spill across the blank page.