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Down the Road on the Blue Ridge Music Trails of North Carolina
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Category: Folk
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May 04, 2021 06:53 AM PDT

Richard Beard, a luthier on the Blue Ridge Craft Trails, is never away from music for very long. When he’s not building instruments in his Rutherfordton shop, he’s often playing music. And when he’s not playing or building, he can be heard hosting the radio show “Celtic Winds” on WNCW FM. Richard Beard’s family has been in Western North Carolina since the 1700s. His early years were spent in Southern California and New Jersey, but he returned to North Carolina for college at UNC Asheville then Guilford College.

April 20, 2021 08:36 AM PDT

The Traditional Artist Directory, located on the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area website, blueridgeheritage.com serves as a vehicle to promote artists found along the Blue Ridge Music Trails of NC. This week we want to introduce you to Michael Reno Harrell. Just seeing Michael Reno Harrell would be hard to forget. His trademark long, white hair and glasses cut a striking figure. But for those able to enjoy a performance of the “songs he makes up and yarns he spins,” Michael is unforgettable.

March 30, 2021 08:48 AM PDT

The Blue Ridge National Heritage Area serves as the steward of the living traditions of our region, protecting and promoting the outdoor landscapes, heritage agriculture, Cherokee culture, craft and music in Western North Carolina. The Traditional Artist Directory, located on the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area website, blueridgeheritage.com serves as a vehicle to promote artists found along the Blue Ridge Music Trails of NC. This week we want to introduce you to “The Burnett Sisters Band.”

March 30, 2021 08:43 AM PDT

The Blue Ridge National Heritage Area serves as the steward of the living traditions of our region, protecting and promoting the outdoor landscapes, heritage agriculture, Cherokee culture, craft and music in Western North Carolina. The Traditional Artist Directory, located on the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area website, blueridgeheritage.com serves as a vehicle to promote artists found along the Blue Ridge Music Trails of NC. This week we want to introduce you to “The Burnett Sisters Band.”

March 22, 2021 09:17 AM PDT

The NC Musician Murals Project began as a casual arrangement between artist Scott Nurkin and the owner of Pepper’s Pizza in Chapel Hill. Nurkin would create portraits of renowned NC musicians to cover a blank wall in the restaurant in exchange for “free pizza for life”. Today, Nurkin’s murals on nine buildings from the mountains to the Piedmont celebrate the transcendent, influential, and groundbreaking musicians of North Carolina.

March 02, 2021 07:01 AM PST

The roots of the banjo go back to West Africa. Early versions of the instrument came to the Americas with enslaved people. In the Appalachian Mountains of Western North Carolina, the banjo took a strong hold, and along with the fiddle, formed the foundation of our traditional music. Today, the banjo is as present as ever across Western North Carolina. Not only is the banjo played here, but it’s also built here. Two young builders with their own distinct building styles and philosophies work to carry on the tradition.

February 15, 2021 11:19 AM PST

The Farmers Federation Cooperative, an organization focused on sharing progressive farming methods and creating a thriving agricultural market in WNC included music as essential to the endeavor. Farmers Federation annual picnic gatherings held in many counties throughout Western North Carolina featured Appalachian music as a chief draw for attendees. The picnics featured a diverse range of music that drew from many traditions. As a result, the Farmers Federation became a stage for individual musicians and a larger influence on musical styles in the mountains of North Carolina.

February 01, 2021 09:59 AM PST

Fiddle music is a richly layered tapestry that runs through the core of Western North Carolina. The passing down of the traditions (or styles), and instruments is ever present. In 2020 North Carolina native and traditional musician, Jason Cade recorded his “Byard Ray Dozen Series.” A collection in tribute to the legendary Byard Ray of Madison County. The core of the story is the multigenerational journey of a Western North Carolina fiddle.

March 30, 2020 06:46 AM PDT

Cultures around the world face the problem of losing their traditions when younger people don’t take interest in their heritage. But among the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, an exceptionally dedicated generation of young tradition bearers, men and women in their twenties and thirties, are both learning and teaching the culture of their ancestors. One of the most prominent members of this generation is language preservationist, musician, and storyteller Matthew Tooni.

March 23, 2020 01:27 PM PDT

For more than a hundred years, folklorists and other scholars have been visiting the community of Beech Mountain, North Carolina. Perhaps the most prolific collector of the community’s music and stories was himself a native of Old Beech.

In the 1960s, Jack Guy began selling mountain handcrafts and folk toys to tourists, helping local artists make a living through their heritage crafts. He operated his business out of a small log cabin, selling classic mountain toys like limberjacks and gee-haw-whimmy-diddles, alongside many other items, including musical instruments made by renowned local luthiers.

And while he was at it, Jack created a venue for Beech Mountain’s musicians to perform, share their music, and be recorded for posterity. He hosted many concerts and informal jams at the shop, featuring great local bands, solo musicians, and storytellers. As they performed, Jack was often at work in the background recording the music on his reel-to-reel tape recorder. He created an enormous archive of Beech Mountain music and folklore.

Soon you’ll be able to visit the North Carolina Folklife Institute’s website, ncfolk.org, to listen to more than 100 audio tapes of mountain music, accompanied by hundreds of old photos of life on Beech Mountain, recordings and stories by the artists who carry on Beech Mountain’s traditions today.

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