In search of the sound: The best albums of 2019

Picking your favorite albums of any given year is a wholeheartedly subjective endeavor. You’re drawn to what immediately captures your attention — whatever that song, record or genre may be. 

Orchard Coffee welcomes popular songwriters

Last Saturday evening at Orchard Coffee in Waynesville, two nationally acclaimed singer-songwriters stepped in front of microphones and projected their captivating voices and lyrical aptitude to a silent, spellbound audience.  

“I like having that personal connection in a place like this — there’s such a feeling in here,” said Israel Nebeker. “I was rehearing for the show tonight in my hotel room earlier, and I was thinking back on some these songs I wrote, and those coffee shops I played when I was starting out — it’s really a full circle thing.”

This must be the place: Can’t I live while I’m young?

It was about halfway into the quirky tune “My Sweet One” when the memories started to flood my field of vision. There I was this past Sunday, surrounded by a sea of over 13,000 people, while our band Phish performed onstage in Charleston, South Carolina. 

Arnold Hill releases new album, offers holiday shows

Amid the plethora of talented bluegrass, Americana and string acts in Western North Carolina, the idea of a rock trio is more so a rarity than something one might come across in regional musical circles.

Since I laid my burden down

In just seven years together, the members of Sister Sadie have risen into the upper echelon of the modern bluegrass scene. 

From a Grammy nomination for “Best Bluegrass Album” (for “Sister Sadie II”) to a handful of appearances on the Grand Ole Opry, 2019 was a milestone year for the group. This past September, the band received the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) award for “Vocal Group of the Year” — the first all-female act in the history of the IBMAs to do so. 

This must be the place: Don’t ever let life pass you by

With over 2,000 folks piling into the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium in downtown Asheville for Incubus on Thursday evening, those in attendance walked away from the gathering with way more than simply “hearing the hits.”

Celebrating the 20th anniversary release of the California rock act’s breakthrough album, “Make Yourself,” the performance unfolded with a retrospective film being projected on the large backdrop behind the drum kit, the entire audience on its feet cheering along.

Don’t sweat the small stuff – just play: A conversation with Jimmy Herring

Longtime guitarist for legendary rock act Widespread Panic, Jimmy Herring’s sole focus as a musician is — and has always been — about creating an inclusive melodic platform with his electric six-string, by which he and other musicians onstage can stand atop and swirl around each other with ease. 

Mountain of pain: Beloved Missouri blues-rock act to play Water’n Hole

Cutting through the onslaught of monotonous bar bands and diluted midnight hour showcases like a buzz saw gone haywire, The Hooten Hallers remain one of the most mesmerizing, innovative and raucous acts on the national scene these days.

Learning American history through songs

In February 2019, the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation released the results of a nationwide poll of 41,000 Americans testing their knowledge of our country’s history. 

“The Foundation found that in the highest-performing state, only 53 percent of the people were able to earn a passing grade for U.S. history. People in every other state failed; in the lowest-performing state, only 27 percent were able to pass.” (Bold-print is from the Foundation.)

In search of that ‘high, lonesome sound’: IBMA awards showcase celebrates 30 years

Just before he entered the main auditorium of the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in Raleigh this past Thursday evening, Darren Nicholson stood back for a moment as he watched the entire bluegrass industry mingle before his eyes.

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