Garret K. Woodward

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

These days, Megan and Bryan Thurman call a 31-foot Airstream home. The iconic silver travel trailer is currently parked on a picturesque property in the rural southern edge of Sylva. 

Last Saturday marked the 20th anniversary of the shooting massacre at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado.

It’s been on mind all this week, between new reports remembering that day and also my own personal thoughts. I was 14 years old and in eighth grade on April 20, 1999. It was spring break. My parents, little sister and I piled into the old minivan in Upstate New York and headed for Cape Cod, Massachusetts. 

Comment

When it comes to the truly innovative and distinct jam acts of the modern era, Perpetual Groove is a name that’s been roaring back into the scene in recent years.

Formed in Savannah, Georgia, in 1997, the group was ahead of its time with a seamless blend of exploratory rock-n-roll and electronica influences. The foundation was built upon the curious melodic nature and reflective songwriting of Phish and Widespread Panic, but was also highly immersed in the sonic possibilities found in the late-night rave and festival circuits back then.

Comment

After a long week and weekend grinding away, I had to bust out and disappear into the woods. And yet, I looked out my apartment window on Sunday afternoon and it was pouring rain. 

Comment

Who: Melody Trucks Band & Donna Hopkins Band

What: Daughter of the late Butch Trucks, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame drummer for The Allman Brothers Band, Melody has hit the road with a group of her own in recent years — a large and very talented ensemble of the best of what Florida song and dance has to offer.

Where: From 7 to 11 p.m. Friday, April 12, at the Lazy Hiker Brewing Company in Franklin. The Melody Trucks Band will also perform with the Taylor Martin Band from 8 to 11:30 p.m. Saturday, April 13, at the Salvage Station in Asheville.

Comment

In a leap of faith move last summer, Americana/indie act The Brothers Gillespie left its native Waynesville and took off over the state line to Johnson City, Tennessee. 

Comprised of three Gillespie siblings — Davis (singer/rhythm guitar), Clay (drums), Aaron (lead guitar) — and longtime friend Max Pollifrone (bass), the quartet chose Johnson City to create and perform its music as Clay finished up college at nearby East Tennessee State University (where he’s currently studying Appalachian music). 

Comment

Pulling off US-11E and into some random person’s backyard last Saturday afternoon, I handed the woman $10 and was directed to park my truck along the tree line behind the rickety garage. 

Stepping out of the vehicle, I could hear the sounds of 110-mph stock cars roaring around the half-mile track across the street at the Bristol Motor Speedway — “The Last Great Colosseum” — in the rolling hills of Eastern Tennessee.

Comment

The voice of Claire Lynch is incredibly soothing — in conversation and in front of a microphone.

With a songbird tone and cadence, the singer is like a free-flowing breeze, something that swirls around you and picks you up, as if you’re a fallen leaf at the peak of beauty, eager to once again sit high in the sky.

Comment

This past Saturday, I went on a first date. It had been a very long time since I’d actually gone on a date, let alone a “first date.”

But, there I was, trimming my beard in the bathroom mirror and making sure I brushed my teeth one more time before I headed out the door and into the unknown night. 

Comment

So, there I was last Saturday afternoon, sitting on a couch in the depths of country music legend Marty Stuart’s tour bus. Right across from me, positioned on the other side of the table — the other side of my tape recorder — was Stuart himself, his trademark silver mane fluttering whenever he’d move his head while in thought and within conversation. 

Comment

Leaning back in his chair, in an office tucked in the depths of a large studio building, a slight grin rolls across the face of Steven Lloyd. 

“I would never have envisioned this,” Lloyd said in a humble tone. “I would have never thought 30 years ahead and have pictured this. But, everything has evolved.”

Comment

When you run through the gamut of truly great rock bands, the name Foreigner tends to usually be somewhere near the top. With over 80 million records sold, the group soaked the radio dial through the 1970s and 1980s with a string of iconic hits, many of which becoming lifelong anthems for countless fans. 

Comment

Right around this time of year, journalists from across the state gather at the North Carolina Press Association awards ceremony in Raleigh. It’s a chance for all of us “in the trenches” to catch up, compare notes, and simply take a moment to reflect on another year in the books.

Comment

In terms of journalism and media in North Carolina, very few names are as recognizable as that of Frank Stasio. Host of the WUNC (North Carolina Public Radio) weekday program “The State of Things” (based out of the American Tobacco Historic District in Durham), Stasio and his platform have become a beacon of light for politics, culture, history and societal dialogue across the Tar Heel State. 

Comment

Arguably the hardest working man in rock-n-roll, guitar legend Warren Haynes has never been one to shy away from testing his own boundaries, blurring the lines between the knowns and unknowns of music — especially when performed live. 

Comment

Since he first burst out on the music scene with his debut album in 2002, soul/rock singer-songwriter Citizen Cope has remained a warrior for social justice and compassion through his perceptive, poetic lyrical wordplay within a signature fiery live performance.

With his latest release, “Heroin and Helicopters,” Cope once again aims to not only shed light on the flaws in our country and the greater world at-hand, he also constructs a melodic bridge between you and me (and us).

And though it seems we may be spinning our wheels in the mud year after year, Cope pushes ahead, head held high, knowing damn well that as long as you have hope, the good of humanity will prevail.

Want to go?

Citizen Cope will hit the stage at 9 p.m. Wednesday, March 6, at The Orange Peel in Asheville. Tickets are $35 per person. David Ramirez will open the show. For more information and/or to purchase tickets, click on www.theorangepeel.net.

Comment

Way out in Graham County, high up in the rugged wilderness of the Nantahala National Forest, is a lonely stretch of N.C. 28.

To the north lies Robbinsville, to the south the Swain County line. But, where you’re standing, seemingly in the middle-of-nowhere, is actually the hottest ticket in Western North Carolina — the “An Appalachian Evening” series at the Stecoah Valley Center.

Comment

It was 60 years ago this past weekend (March 2, 1959) when Miles Davis’ seminal “Kind of Blue” album was recorded. This is an immortal masterpiece, a cornerstone of not only American music, but the music of the world, too. 

Comment

The hardest balance for a rock band is to straddle the line between honest emotions in your lyrics and also simply being able to get people to groove along to what beats and tones swirl around the wordplay. 

Comment

In a recent New York Times article, “What Charles Bukowski’s Glamorous Displays of Alcoholism Left Out,” the piece analyzed and deconstructed the legendary (albeit infamous) poet/writer, ultimately putting a spotlight on someone greatly idolized, but also just as greatly detested for his behavior and antics. 

Comment

It’s just after 5 p.m. at the intersection of U.S. 64 and N.C. 107 in the village of Cashiers. Otherwise known as the “Crossroads,” the junction — atop a mountainous plateau at the southern end of Jackson County — is usually buzzing with tourists and second-homeowners spring through fall. And, normally, it’s relatively silent when winter rears its head. 

Comment

Ah, Valentine’s Day.

Upstate New York in the late 1990s. Middle school and Valentine’s Day dances in that a-typical gymnasium. Crappy late 90s hip-hop and pop music. Tongue-tied couples slow dancing. I was the 13-year-old kid running around the gym, kind of poking fun at the couples, but also secretly wishing that girl in my ninth period math class would save one for me on her dance card. 

Comment

Why does it seem we’re all so unhappy these days? 

Is it that we’re just more aware of our emotions and live in an age where — whether it’s socially acceptable or not — we lay everything out on the table? Is it the technology in our hands and our pockets we constantly post and scroll for subconscious self-value? Is it all the yelling, bickering and division constantly thrown in our face from TV, radio and the internet?

Comment

Tucked up along a hillside overlooking Richland Creek and the Frog Level district of Waynesville is a cozy bungalow. 

The walls are covered with all types of artwork collected over the years. Shelves filled with books on world travel and Appalachian culture. Dozens of vinyl records lean against the corners of the back room. 

Comment

Standing in front of the ancient waterfall, I watched the lagoon sparkle like some long-lost stash of emeralds and sapphires. Splashing the frigid, flowing mountain water onto my face, it felt like a baptism of sorts at the altar of Mother Nature. 

Comment

In a day and age where everything that glistens and captures society’s short attention span is seemingly a smoke screen blurring the lines between appearance and reality, one of the most intricate and sacred of human experiences remains pure and untouched — live music. 

Comment

Meandering down the desolate Route 8 in the southern Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York last weekend, my truck came over a slight rise. It was in that moment when I realized the road was covered with at least a foot or more of water. 

Comment

Coming into seven years together, the members of Porch 40 continue to hold steady and elevate each other’s craft, with a constant motto of “all for one, one for all” echoing loudly through the band’s purpose, passion and performance. 

Last November, the Cullowhee-based quintet rolled down to New Orleans, Louisiana. They headed into the studio of musician Robert Mercurio, bassist for legendary funk/rock act Galactic, whose personal collaboration and professional influence on Porch 40 is not only evident, but clearly bountiful. 

Comment

It’s like getting hit in the face with a frying pan.

Stepping out of my parents’ farmhouse in Upstate New York this past week, the outside temperature was 5 below zero with a wind chill hovering around minus 20 or so. I had three layers of shirts on with running tights and other winter attire. 

Comment

Just off Main Street in Waynesville, tucked down the hill below Bogart’s, and across the street from American Legion Post 47, sits Mad Anthony’s Taproom & Restaurant.

Originally opened on Branner Avenue some three years ago, the business relocated to Legion Drive in July 2017. With 50 continuously rotating taps, it’s the largest selection of draft craft beer west of Asheville (aka: “Beer City USA”). But, in recent months, the taproom has transitioned into one of the most talked about gourmet farm-to-table restaurants in the area. 

Comment

She’s known as “Wild Kathy.”

At least, that’s what she was nicknamed while joyously roaming Bourbon Street in New Orleans in November 2004. “Wild Kathy,” also known as Kathy, or “mom” to me. And on Jan. 21, she’ll turn 70 years young back in my North Country hometown of Plattsburgh, New York. 

Comment

Adjusting his baseball cap, Graham Sharp leans forward and takes another sip of coffee. It’s late morning at the Tastee Diner in West Asheville. The constant traffic buzzes by the small restaurant bordering Haywood Road. 

Banjoist/singer for the Grammy-winning Steep Canyon Rangers, Sharp is part of one of the marquee acts in string music today. The Western North Carolina group isn’t bluegrass. It isn’t Americana. It’s isn’t folk or indie, either. It’s all of the above, which is something Sharp and his bandmates have purposely set out to present to the listener.

Comment

This week marks just over 20 years since The Great Ice Storm of 1998. In early January of that year, I was 12 years old and a seventh-grader living on the Canadian Border of Upstate New York. 

Comment

In a year of turmoil, trepidation and tragedy, thankfully we can retreat into the one thing that can shift any emotion back to that of positivity and progression — the sound of music. 

Below are a handful of the finest releases of 2018. Seek these albums out, immerse yourself in the power of song and dance, and pass along the melodic happiness to those known and unknown. Remember, we’re all in this together.

Comment

For someone as sentimental as I am, New Year’s Eve always seems to resonate the deepest. The idea of leaving behind an entire year — of beautiful highs and staggering lows — only to seemingly trade it in for another 12 months, a fresh canvas by which to once again try and paint your vision into a reality. 

Comment

This year has been quite the whirlwind. It felt like 2018 was a rollercoaster I either didn’t buy a ticket to ride or was simply unaware of just how steep the ups and downs were. And I swear, I ain’t the only one in that boat of sentiments and emotions.

Coming into 2018, I found myself kissing my (now ex-) girlfriend in a room full of old and new friends in the frozen depths of our native Upstate New York. We all watched the glowing ball drop in Times Square on television. The room erupted in cheers and hugs. Cups of champagne and shots of bourbon passed around. Snowflakes and a frigid wind whipping against the windows, those inside warm and cozy. 

Comment

Following a second “Entertainer of the Year” award from the International Bluegrass Music Association this past September in Raleigh, the members of Balsam Range went immediately back into the recording booth. 

Hunkered down in the Crossroads Studios in Arden, the quintet burned the midnight oil far into the foliage season, which has resulted in the band’s eighth album, “Aeonic” (out Jan. 4 on Mountain Home Music Company). The record is a testament to the hard work and determination Balsam Range not only possesses, but radiates to inspire those around them, onstage or off. 

Comment

The core of any sincere and determined musical circle is a simple formula: camaraderie + compassion = musicianship. 

Anyone who tries to find footing at all in this haphazard organized chaos of creating and recording music, of booking and promoting shows, can can surely attest to the madness felt — onstage and off. You’re chasing a dream that can seem further and farther away each day you get up and try again, a recognition and stability you fight for with a reckless abandon.

Comment

So, amid the whirlwind this past week of being published by Rolling Stone — my biggest dream and top bucket list item as a writer — I’ve found myself looking over my shoulder and reflecting on the road to the here and now. 

Comment

Though part of the scene most of her life, singer/mandolinist Sierra Hull has been making some big waves in the world of bluegrass in recent years. 

Comment

As a Rolling Stone magazine subscriber since I was in ninth grade, it has my biggest dream as a writer to get a piece — just one single article — published by them. Well, as of this week, I’ve now had two pieces published by Rolling Stone. And it all came completely out-of-nowhere.

Comment

For over 25 years, journalist Quintin Ellison has roamed our region documenting the people, places and things that make up the distinctive history and culture of Western North Carolina. And now, she finds herself on the other side of the conversation. 

In an upcoming showcase of her photography, Ellison will be displaying moments of mountain life frozen in time, captured from behind the lens by someone who spreads the urgent nature of what’s inside each image. It is a heritage that — for the most part — is rapidly disappearing from our daily lives, whether you realize it or not. 

Comment

Many folks here in Waynesville knew Louie Bing as “the homeless guy with the dog.” Well, Louie and his Australian pit bull, Sid, were way more than that. They were family to me. And I was saddened to hear of Louie’s passing last weekend. 

Comment

Just about a decade ago, on a school bus somewhere on the back roads of Black Mountain, four teenage boys sat together and conversed excitedly about their mutual love of music. 

Two of them were twin brothers, Kyle and Eric Travers. The other two were friends Ian McIsaac and Josh Clark. Though the siblings had been playing music since they were kids, Kyle on guitar and Eric on drums, talk surfaced to start jamming out in their parent’s garage. 

Comment

I couldn’t believe she gave me a ticket.

Thanksgiving 2001. I was 16 years old. Having just ate a quick meal with my family up on the Canadian Border of Upstate New York, I jumped into my rusty 1989 Toyota Camry and bolted down the road towards Vermontville, a tiny hamlet in the heart of the desolate Adirondack Mountains. 

Comment

In 12 years together, Haywood County-based Balsam Range have played some of the biggest stages in the music industry, and have also taken home some of the highest awards in the bluegrass world. 

Comment

I was handed a telephone number and told good luck.

In the fall of 2007, I was 22 years old. Once graduate school didn’t pan out, I found myself scrambling to find a gig in the journalism world. Based out of Upstate New York at the time, I applied for a position at The Williston Observer, a small newspaper just across Lake Champlain in Vermont. 

Comment

Just west of the town of Franklin, along a winding back road heading into the mountains surrounding Wayah Bald, sits a picturesque old farmhouse across the street from a babbling stream. Sitting on the porch of that farmhouse one recent afternoon, gazing out over the free-flowing, peaceful waters, is Tom McNish.

Comment

In the six or so years I’ve lived and worked in Western North Carolina, the amount of craft breweries in our region has literally quadrupled. And as someone who has written extensively about craft beer, industry trends and so forth, it’s pretty impossible to keep up with it all. 

Comment

I was born in the wrong decade. 

Or so I often hear from others. Some are musicians or artists, dreamers or history buffs, movers and shakers. Heck, I’ve even felt that sentiment above on many occasions, especially when I was a kid. 

Comment

Smokey Mountain News Logo
SUPPORT THE SMOKY MOUNTAIN NEWS AND
INDEPENDENT, AWARD-WINNING JOURNALISM
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.