Garret K. Woodward
Friday morning in downtown Waynesville and Orchard Coffee is bustling. There are those entering and waiting patiently for strong coffee and freshly baked goods, those exiting with full hands and big smiles.
So, where am I right now?
Well, physically, I’m sitting in the back of our office, by myself in the conference room near the kitchen and mini-fridge. The blue coffee cup next to my laptop is full of the caffeinated black liquid that gives me the strength to type fast enough to meet those pesky deadlines.
For the better part of the last 30 years, G. Love (aka: Garrett Dutton) has been radiating his message of “peace, love and happiness” from behind a microphone atop stages across the country and around the world.
It was during the third sip of my second glass of wine that I decided to splurge. As a minimalist, in terms of materialistic things, I choose to spend my money on good food, drink and experiences. Thus, it was a time to celebrate, so why not purchase the $89 bottle of champagne, eh?
When it comes to Keller Williams, there are three key elements of his storied live performances — experimentation, fun, unity.
Hailing from Virginia, the beloved singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist has been crisscrossing the country with his singular blend of acoustic, jam and dance music for the better part of the last 30 years.
I could hear the planes overheard from the nearby Nashville airport. The room was cool. The bedsheets warm. It took me a moment to realize I was in Room 219 of the Red Roof Inn. Monday morning and a few hundred miles from my apartment back over the state line in Waynesville.
I awoke to the hammering of nails and the sound of a cement mixer. Opening the front door, it was a steep drop of a few feet to the cold dirt below. The old front porch was long gone. The new front porch now in the midst of construction.
Coming into 2020, Greensky Bluegrass was looking forward to celebrating its 20th anniversary. A relentless national touring act, it would be countless shows and festivals — in front of an endless sea of folks who travel far and wide to listen and immerse themselves in the band’s seamless blend of bluegrass, jam and rock music.
About halfway through the first set of the sold-out Goose drive-in show last Saturday, a friend turned to me and said with a smile, “You know, we’re probably going to follow this band around for the next few decades, right?”
Not far from Main Street in Canton and the bright lights of the nearby football stadium is an unassuming one-story commercial building along Pisgah Drive. With a couple of vehicles in the parking lot last Thursday evening, a lone light radiates from the front window of WPTL.
Awakening in the hotel room in downtown Pineville, Kentucky, it took me a moment to realize where I was this past Sunday morning. I found myself up in the small mountain town on Saturday night for a music showcase at the nearby Laurel Cove Amphitheater of emerging acts from just down the road in Lexington.
Crossing the threshold of the White Moon café in downtown Sylva, one is immediately drawn in by the scent of culinary delights and unique beverages. But, against the back wall is a nondescript door. There’s no sign on it, nor is there any indication that the entryway serves any more of a purpose than a broom closet.
Approaching the backside parking lot of Upslope Brewing Company in Boulder, Colorado one recent evening, I was immediately greeted by the new normal when it comes to live music.
In the 21st century, the living bridge of the “high, lonesome sound” that is bluegrass music is Del McCoury.
At 81, McCoury remains the melodic connection between the “Father of Bluegrass,” the late Bill Monroe, and the ever-evolving contemporary acts that are currently blurring the lines between the neo-traditional and progressive camps. And yet, McCoury is steadfast in his pursuit of the traditional bluegrass tone.
It’s 9:29 a.m. on Tuesday at the Holiday Inn off Interstate 135 near the city of Salina, Kansas. Looking out the fourth-floor window, it was hundreds of miles of cornfields, grasslands, gas stations and truck stops.
In a seismic move that will further propel the Asheville and greater Western North Carolina music scene into the national spotlight, Citizen Vinyl will officially open its doors to the public on Oct. 8.
This must be the place: Ain’t it funny how the time just flies, don’t you think it’s time to get on board?
Nearing midnight here in Eastern Idaho. A landscape I used to call home some 12 years ago. The faces I chase down and interact with in these parts are familiar and beloved. The same faces I befriended when I first rolled through here to put down roots as a rookie reporter in January 2008 for the Teton Valley News.
Fresh out of high school in 1970, Sam Bush was a teenager in Bowling Green, Kentucky, with aspirations of being a touring musician.
With his mandolin and fiddle in hand, he took off for the bright stage lights of Louisville, teaming up with bluegrass guitar wizard Tony Rice as part of the iconic ensemble that was The Bluegrass Alliance.
It’s 4:41 a.m. at the Motel 6 in Laramie, Wyoming, which means it’s nearing 7 o’clock back at my apartment in Waynesville, North Carolina. My guitar sits atop the bed with fresh sheets and fluffy pillows, right across from my late grandfather’s old Coleman cooler on the floor near the door.
Labor Day 2020. After finishing up my arts feature for this week’s newspaper, I jumped into the old Tacoma and headed for Lake Logan to swim and layout in the sunshine of a fading summer. Park down the gravel road and grab a seat on the dock. Pop open a cold beverage and hoist it high to those familiar and beloved faces surrounding you.
A few months ago, Russ Keith was cruising down U.S. 19 through the heart of Maggie Valley. Soon, he noticed the festival grounds out of the corner of his eye. He pulled in, stopped and got out of his car.
“The gate was unlocked, so I just walked out there and stood in the middle of the property,” Keith said. “And I knew this was the place — it needs to happen right here.”
Sitting in a booth upstairs at The Water’n Hole on North Main Street in Waynesville one recent evening, Justin Wells takes two sips: one from his beer and one from his shot of bourbon.
Stepping out of the muddy truck, I laced up my trail running shoes and disappeared down the Cataloochee Divide Trail for a few miles of trotting, wandering and pondering.
About a mile and a half up the ridge, there’s this small opening looking down into Cataloochee Valley. I always stop there and gaze out, wondering who else is, perhaps, looking back at me from one of those faraway peaks. Last Friday, I stood at that spot and felt the first crisp breeze of an impending fall.
Pulling onto Lake Street last Saturday afternoon, an odd sense of self flowed through my veins while cruising through Rouses Point, New York. My hometown until I left for college, the tiny Canadian Border community had seen better days. And yet, Saturday was another happy occasion for my family, who has lived in that town for generations.
With its latest EP, “Something New: Vol 1,” the Maggie Valley Band is breaking new ground, whether it be sonically or what lies within the creative spirit of the emerging Haywood County act.
In recent years, the sibling duo of Whitney and Caroline Miller (amid a rotating cast of guest backing musicians) have transitioned from an acoustic ensemble pushing the boundaries of folk and mountain music to a melodic entity that constantly stokes the hot coals of Americana and indie-rock stylings.
Situated at the corner of N.C. 107 and 281, in the Tuckasegee community of rural Jackson County, is a newly-built Dollar General. And sitting in his pickup truck in the convenience store parking lot one recent afternoon is acclaimed author David Joy.
On Aug. 11, my late grandfather, Frank Kavanaugh, would have turned 100 years old. But, alas, it’s been some 13 years since Fred left this world (June 9, 2007). I tend to think of him quite often, especially as I’ve gotten older and continued to wander the backroads and highways of the rollicking, undulating landscape that is the United States.
Celebrating two decades together this year, the Steep Canyon Rangers have evolved from a group of budding musicians in a college dorm room at UNC Chapel Hill into one of the marquee string acts in the country.
On Aug. 9, 1995, I was 10 years old and living in an old farmhouse on the Canadian Border of Upstate New York.
With my entry into fifth grade just around the corner, I was starting to wind down another curious and carefree North Country summer of swimming, bike riding and backyard shenanigans.
With the current pandemic and economic shutdown, the music industry was the first business sector to close its doors and will most likely be the last to reopen when all is said and done.
Stepping out of my pickup truck this past Saturday afternoon, I stood in the parking lot of the Maggie Valley Town Hall.
In the front entrance of the building were an array of local law enforcement agencies from around Haywood County. Underneath the big trees in the front yard were Black Lives Matter protesters. On the lawn next door, with eyes aimed at those under the big trees, were the counter protesters.
Standing in front of a microphone on Sunday evening, singer-songwriter Jane Kramer looked out onto the small, socially-distant crowd inside The Grey Eagle Music Hall in Asheville. Each table of patrons were several feet from the next table. Though masks covered the faces, the smiles and laughter could not be contained.
It was odd and surreal feeling to be watching live music this past weekend. As you probably read on the opposite page in this newspaper, I was on assignment for the #SaveOurStages initiative and how it being (or not being) passed in Congress will greatly affect the music industry moving forward.
One of the most versatile and intriguing musicians in Asheville and greater Western North Carolina, singer-songwriter Eleanor Underhill chases the artistic muse with a reckless abandon of curiosity, joy and self-reflection.
Stepping out of the pickup truck in my little sister’s driveway last Saturday, I was immediately greeted with the sounds of children laughing and splashing around in the backyard. It was my niece’s sixth birthday party in my hometown of Rouses Point, New York, a tiny village on the Canadian and Vermont borders.
If you’ve ever spent time in New Orleans, Louisiana, you know all too well the grandiose nature and immense splendor of the rollicking metropolis.
It’s a place where you can experience the organized chaos of the French Quarter, and yet also find yourself amid a serene silence along the Mississippi River or down some side street of breathtaking architecture where history comes alive right before your eyes.
I’m currently sitting at the old kitchen table in my parents’ 1840 farmhouse in Upstate New York. Our family dog, Madison, is lying down a few feet away, always within a short distance of me whenever I’m walking around the house or wandering the backyard. The coffee in hand is fresh and strong. There’s a lot on my mind, too.
Hailing from the Southern Appalachian backwoods of Castlewood, Virginia (population: 2,045), 49 Winchester is a rapidly rising alt-country/rock act.
For the better part of the last decade, the band has been relentlessly working its way through the Southeastern music industry — playing every stage and festival that’ll have ‘em — where now the raucous group is whispered in the same breath (of raw talent and sincere passion) as the Drive-By Truckers, Tyler Childers and Sturgill Simpson, to name a few.
Much like New Year’s Eve, the Fourth of July is one of those holidays that everyone you know will definitely be doing something of some sort. But, for some damn reason, nobody ever seems to decide what that something is until the last minute.
Sitting in the back den of my parents’ Upstate New York farmhouse last week, I could hear the familiar sounds of the big brown UPS truck and its squeaky brakes slowing down to full stop in front of the driveway.
Back in January, the Haywood County Arts Council was setting itself up for another year of growth, creatively and financially. With artisan membership numbers on the rise, the nonprofit organization had high hopes for its May 24 Americana concert featuring Balsam Range & The Atlanta Pops Orchestra.
It’s been a wild and wondrous thing to be able to wander around my native North Country right now: to see old friends and family, and actually be able to sit and make time with them.
Usually, I only find myself back home in Upstate New York when it’s 20 below zero and there are presents under the brightly-lit tree in my parents’ farmhouse. But, with the current pandemic and shutdown, I was able to (safely) head home and be with family over the last few weeks.
At just 27 years old, singer-songwriter Andrew Scotchie has already become a beloved fixture and voice of reason in the Asheville and greater Western North Carolina music scene.
Somewhere between finishing my column last Tuesday morning and lunchtime, it was decided by my mother that she and I would head to the coast of Maine for a few days.
Coming into this spring, Executive Chef Kaighn Raymond was looking forward to his restaurant hitting the 10-year mark. What he didn’t expect was for Frogs Leap Public House to be closed to the public.
It started with a text message. While making a sandwich for lunch in my parents’ Upstate New York farmhouse the other day, my smart phone vibrated. It was my old friend Leah, a beloved face I hadn’t seen or heard from in several years.
If you had told BearWaters Brewing founder/co-owner Kevin Sandefur eight years ago that some day he’d be at the helm of two brewery locations in Haywood County, and also play a big role in the economic revitalization of downtown Canton, he’d probably call your bluff.
In a highly-anticipated relaunch of a beloved Waynesville business, Frog Level Brewing has finally opened its doors following renovations and relaxed government mandates in the era of the coronavirus.
On Monday morning, I woke up in a big, cozy antique brass bed at my parents’ 1840 farmhouse up near the Canadian border in Plattsburgh, New York. Rolling over, I grabbed my ukulele nearby and plucked a few jovial chords.
For a group whose core mission is to promote positivity and compassion, The Get Right Band has found its ideals tested and pushed to the brink during the current Coronavirus Pandemic.