Darren Nicholson & Friends returns with an all-star ensemble!

The Balsam Range’s Darren Nicholson returns to Folkmoot’s Queen Auditorium October 13th for his biggest show yet, a rare, one-time combination high-powered bluegrass stars. Tickets in advance are 10.00 for kids, 20.00 for adults, 23.00 at the door.

Nicholson, mandolinist for bluegrass supergroup Balsam Range, will be joined onstage by two-time national banjo champion Charles Wood, by bassist and vocalist Eli Johnston – formerly of Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver – and by stellar guitarist and former Volume Five member Colby Laney.

Darren Nicholson
Charles Wood
Colby Laney
Eli Johnston

A Haywood County native, Nicholson is a Grammy Award nominee and recipient of five International Bluegrass Music Association Awards, including Entertainer of the Year (2014), Song of the Year (2011), and Album of the Year (2006). He has appeared on WSM’s Grand Ole Opry, at the Ryman Auditorium, on Country Music Television and on Great American Country. Currently, he records and tours as a full-time, founding member of Balsam Range with all sorts of collaborative efforts each year.

Eli Johnston, who joins the ensemble on bass and vocals, is a former member of Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver and a triple-threat singer, songwriter, and musician.

“Eli is a powerhouse is the bluegrass world,” says Nicholson

Nicholson describes Laney, who was most recently a four-year member of Volume Five, as a “must-see guitarist”.

Wood is two-time champion of Walnut Valley Festival Banjo Championship in Winfield, Kansas – widely considered the national banjo championship – and joined Earl Scruggs and Steve Martin on stage on the David Letterman Show.

“Doing a show like this is so much fun because it’s a rare combination, and it’s as exciting for the musicians as it is for the audience,” says Nicholson. “I’m excluding myself, but these are some of the most talented musicians and singers on the planet. I’m just honored to be a part of this and will just try to ‘hang on’!”

The Academy at SOAR moving to Folkmoot’s Historic Hazelwood School

WAYNESVILLE–Waynesville arts and cultural organization Folkmoot has reached an agreement with the Academy at SOAR, a longtime boarding school in the Balsam community of Jackson County, to move its school operations to Building B on the Folkmoot Friendship Center campus.

SOAR, which serves students grades 7-12 diagnosed with a learning disability and/or ADHD, will occupy the original Hazelwood School building for ten months each year, leaving two summer months for use by Folkmoot and its long-running International Festival. The structure, which dates to 1923, comprises roughly one-third of the Folkmoot Center space.

As part of the agreement between the two organizations, substantial upgrades will be made to building, including new heating and air conditioning systems.

Folkmoot leaders say the partnership is integral to its long term development strategy as a year-round arts and cultural center, one aspect of which is sustainable use of the entire 40,000 sq. ft. space. One barrier to broader use requires various rehabilitation projects within the aging structure, including heat and air.

“Folkmoot has been in the process of building year-round programming and creating opportunities for community rentals that help to sustain the costs of owning the Friendship Center,” said Folkmoot Executive Director Angie Schwab. “It’s a 40,000 square-foot structure and there is plenty of room for SOAR, Folkmoot and for new arts and cultural program expansion.”

“The SOAR School partnership will mean building B gets the care and maintenance it deserves,” said David Francis, Folkmoot Board President. “From a neighborhood perspective, Hazelwood will appreciate that the building looks nice on the outside and that SOAR students and faculty are good neighbors. From a historic preservation perspective, upgrading the building with heat and air will help to preserve the vintage building while programmatically, the HVAC upgrades will make the space more comfortable as we host international performers.”

Folkmoot, a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization, has become a Western North Carolina institution. Each summer since 1984 musicians and dancers from across the globe have visited Waynesville as part of the Folkmoot International Dance and Music Festival. More than 8,000 international performers from 200 countries have participated through the decades. Folkmoot focuses on programs and events that celebrate diversity and differences, encourage cultural conversation and inclusion, and preserve and honor worldwide cultural heritages, especially using dance and music as a tool to achieve world peace.

Year-round programs at Folkmoot include the Southern Storytellers Series, Cultural Crash Courses, Nashville Songwriters in the Round, live music performances and International Friendship Dinners. Artist’s studio spaces are also available, and the Center recently became home to the Western North Carolina Quilt Trail, hosted by the Haywood County Arts Council.

The Academy at SOAR, founded in 1977, is a North Carolina certified non-public co-educational boarding school and a branch of SOAR Inc. (Success Oriented Achievement Realized). SOAR is also accredited regionally through AdvancEd (SACS) as a fully accredited secondary school. The tuition-based school currently serves a maximum of 32 male and female students, most of whom have had difficulty succeeding in traditional educational environments.

“I just can’t believe how awesome everyone has been in Waynesville,” said Joe Geier, Head of School at SOAR. “They’ve bent over backwards to help us meet a tight timeline. We’re very thankful, our students are starting the year on a high note, and we look forward to making another home for SOAR Academy here at Folkmoot.”

The school functions as a hybrid residential boarding school on a 4-week cycle: half of the school’s 32-student enrollment are in a traditional classroom setting at any given time, while the other half are on traveling expeditions.

Cultural Crash Course: Higdon in Haywood: Cold Mountain

Join local experts for Folkmoot’s new series, Cultural Crash Courses, featuring lectures on a variety of current cultural issues, including global politics, race, immigration, gender, climate change, technology and multiculturalism. Content will be presented as a 45-minute community lecture followed by questions, answers and discussion. Crash Courses begin on September 18th and occur on a monthly basis. The full schedule with topics and speakers is available online at Folkmoot.org

At our first Cultural Crash Course, WCU professor, Dr. Christina Reitz will talk about the compositional history of Jennifer Higdon’s opera Cold Mountain, a musical adaptation of Charles Frazier’s award winning novel of the same name, which is set just outside Asheville during the civil war. The opera received its world premiere at Santa Fe Opera in 2015 and Opera Philadelphia performed it in 2016. North Carolina Opera and Minnesota Opera followed in 2017 and 2018.

Higdon has won both a Pulitzer and a Grammy for previous works.

Reitz’s analysis will focus on the unique challenges of adapting the original work “from page to stage.”

Christina L. Reitz received a BM in Piano Performance from the Dana School of Music at Youngstown State University where she was the recipient of the Mary P. Rigo Outstanding Keyboard Major. She earned an MM in Piano Pedagogy and a Ph.D. in historical musicology, with external cognates in women’s studies and piano performance at the University of Florida where she received the John V. D’Albora Scholarship for Excellence in Graduate Research as well as the Outstanding Student Paper Award from the College Music Society, Southern Chapter.

Cultural Crash Courses are sponsored by Western Carolina University and the Town of Waynesville. Tickets for Cultural Crash Courses are $10. Doors open at 5:30pm and the lecture begins at 6:00pm. 

Southern Storytellers Series: David Joy

Folkmoot, Blue Ridge Books and the Haywood County Public Library present the Southern Storytellers Supper Series, bringing southern culture and regional authors and musicians together for educational evenings of discussion, food and fun.

David Joy is the author of the Edgar nominated novel Where All Light Tends To Go (Putnam, 2015), as well as the novels The Weight Of This World (Putnam, 2017) and The Line That Held Us (Putnam, 2018). He is also the author of the memoir Growing Gills: A Fly Fisherman’s Journey (Bright Mountain Books, 2011), which was a finalist for the Reed Environmental Writing Award and the Ragan Old North State Award.

He is the recipient of an artist fellowship from the North Carolina Arts Council. His latest short stories and essays have appeared in Time, The New York Times Magazine, Garden & Gun, and The Bitter Southerner.

In addition to his writing, David enjoys hunting, fishing, his dog and nature. If you’ve read his fiction, non-fiction and articles this would not surprise you. Come hear more about how these traditional aspects of mountain life have influenced and found their way into his writing.

Thursday, September 26, 6pm  •  Tickets: $10-$20 ($23 at the door)

Balsam Range Art of Music Festival Kickoff at Folkmoot

Balsam Range Art of Music Festival Kickoff at Folkmoot

For the second year, Balsam Range opens its December Art of Music Festival with a Waynesville kickoff at the Queen Auditorium/Folkmoot Center, located at the Historic Hazelwood School.

Members of Balsam Range – and perhaps a special guest or two – will launch the weekend festival with a performance in the school’s renovated auditorium on Thursday, December 5.

“We want to help build community around this space, and contribute to the vibrancy of Folkmoot with our music,” said Balsam Range’s Buddy Melton, currently the International Bluegrass Music Association’s reigning top male vocalist. “Y’all come!”

The event beings with a social gathering at 6 p.m. on Thursday, December 5, with barbeque and fresh beer available for purchase.

Tickets are $25 in advance, $28 at the door, and can be purchased in advance at Folkmoot.org or by calling 828.452.2997. Weekend ticket packages and other Balsam Range Art of Music Festival information can be found at  www.balsamrangeartofmusicfestival.com. Tickets sales and contributions support Folkmoot programs that sustain cultural arts for youth and families in Western North Carolina.

The Folkmoot Friendship Center is located in the Historic Hazelwood School, 112 Virginia Ave., Waynesville. Parking is available in the back of the Folkmoot building for all special events.

Folkmoot is a nonprofit organization dedicated to celebrating many cultures in one community. The Folkmoot Friendship Center is located in the Historic Hazelwood School at 112 Virginia Avenue in Waynesville. Staff can be reached by phone at (828) 452-2997 or by email at info@folkmoot.org.

Queen Auditorium, Folkmoot Center

Folkmoot 2019: Gala Under the Stars Gallery

2019 Folkmoot Gala Under the Stars
Meet and greet at Queen Auditorium

Each year’s Folkmoot Legacy Festival begins with a meet and greet and Gala Under the Stars for Folkmoot donors. The weather was perfect in 2019, and guests were treated to food, drink and performances from participating groups and the Blue Ridge Big Band.

Below is a gallery of selected photos from the night!

Curtain Call!

Around the Folkmoot Center: Curtain Call!

Folkmalt Music Lineup Promises to Move Rear-Ends

On July 26, the Folkmoot crew, the town of Canton, the BearWaters Brewing staff and many other brewers from around the region will gather in Canton’s Sorrells Park for the inaugural Folkmalt Fair. They’ll be joined by musicians and dancers from Colombia, Romania, Egypt and more! None more important than the two acts on the Main Stage, though: Asheville’s The Get Right Band and Woody Pines.

Woody Pines
The music of Nashville troubadour Woody Pines comes from the streets. It was on the streets as a professional busker that Woody first cut his teeth, drawing liberally from the lost back alley anthems and scratchy old 78s of American roots music, whether country blues, jugband, hokum, or hillbilly. Heavy rollicking street performances are the key to Woody’s intensely catchy rhythms, jumpy lyrics, and wildly delirious sense of fun. 

The Get Right Band

“Hip-shaking, earthquaking pure funk fun” (The Alternate Root). They are one of Relix Magazine’s “On The Verge” picks, Home Grown Music Network’s 2015 “Best New Band of the Year,” and were voted “Best Progressive Band” in Western North Carolina by Mountain Xpress readers. Combining catchy, clever, honest  songwriting with musical expertise and fearless improvisation, the live show promises to move your head, heart, and hips.

Folkmalt welcomes the Get Right Band
The Get Right Band

Folkmoot announces 2019 Visiting Group Lineup

Kecskemét Folk Dance Ensemble - Hungary

Folkmoot’s eleven-day summer festival is only weeks away. Welcoming five international groups, alongside Appalachian, Cherokee and other American ethnic cultural groups, the festival opens in Waynesville with the Gala Under the Stars on Thursday, July 18 and ends with the Candlelight Closing on Sunday, July 28 at Lake Junaluska’s Stuart Auditorium. Folkmoot performances are held in eight communities throughout western North Carolina. More information about participating cultural groups can be found below and the full schedule is available at Folkmoot.org. 

Appalachian Cloggers

The 2019 festival features six clogging groups from western North Carolina, each with a unique style and a shared passion for authentic clogging traditions. Clogging is a traditional dance that displays individual footwork, as the team keeps a rhythmic cadence. All teams do a combination of traditional freestyle clogging accompanied by original bluegrass music provided by the Doghouse Band from Candler, NC. Audiences will enjoy group performances by the Dixie Darlins, Appalachian Mountaineer Cloggers, Blue Ride Heritage Cloggers, Fines Creek Cloggers, Cole Mountain Cloggers and Green Valley Cloggers. 

The Bahamas Platinum Knights Junkanoo – Bahamas

The Platinum Knights will share Junkanoo, a street parade with music, dance, and costumes reflecting their cultural origins with the Akan people of Ghana. These parades are held on many islands across the English speaking Caribbean every Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, a similar tradition as “Kakamotobi” or the Fancy Dress Festival of Ghana. The original Junkanoo is the strongest remaining African tradition in the Bahamas. “Our organization is engineered by a group of veterans known to the Junkanoo world. We are family-oriented and our goal is to not only express our culture but to also teach it to future generations. Platinum Knights group envisions the art of junkanoo evolving without straying away from its foundation.”

Corporacion Cultural Danza Arte y Tradicion DANZAT – Colombia

DANZAT is a group from Columbia that will share many dances of the Llanero culture. A Llanero is a South American sheepherder found in the Llanos grasslands of west-central Venezuela and eastern Colombia. Part of both Spanish and Indian culture, the Llanero have a strong culture with distinctive music. The Llanero music is distinctive for its use of the harp, the maracas and a small guitar called a cuarto. One of DANZAT’s featured dances is called the Joropo. Cultural Corporation Dance Art and Tradition DANZAT has contributed 25 years to the spreading of the Llanera Culture in Colombia and around the world. 

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians

Cherokee culture is represented by a drum group, powwow dancers, traditional Cherokee dancers, a storyteller, a hoop dancer, the Hummingbirds stickball team, the Big Cove “Kolanvyi” (co-lah-nuh-yee) stickball team and Cherokee artisans. The Cherokee people include the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and the Cherokee Nation and United Kituwah Band both in Oklahoma. The Eastern Band of Cherokee, or Tsalagi (Zah-la-gee) do not live on a reservation, which is land given to a native American tribe by the federal government. Instead, in the 1800’s, the tribal members purchased 57,000 acres of property, all in Western North Carolina, spread throughout several counties, called the Qualla Boundary.

National Folkloric Dance Troupe of Egypt – Egypt

Established in 1960, National Folkloric Dance Troupe of Egypt is considered a leading Egyptian folk group. They specialize in a series of traditional dances that show different aspects of daily Egyptian lives and traditional life. Folkloric dance in Egypt is divided regionally into the dance from the Delta (fellahi), the Upper Delta (Saidi), the coastal area (Sawahili), Sinai (Bedouin), and the Nubian area. These regions are defined based on the views of the people themselves. Egypt also has a longstanding tradition of belly dancing. Believed to have originated as a fertility dance performed by priestesses in Pharaonic times, it exists today in two main forms, as a folk dance (raqs baladi), performed by women at parties and weddings, and as a form of entertainment by professional dancers (raqs sharqi).

Kecskemét Folk Dance Ensemble – Hungary

Established in 1976, the Kecskemét Folk Dance Ensemble is maintained by the Hiros Agora Culture and Youth Center in Budapest. With around 280 dancers split up into ten groups, Kecskemét welcomes participants of all ages. The group presents dances of the nations living in the Carpathian Basin. Some of them are Ugrós (Jumping dances), Csárdás, Verbunkos and The Legényes. 

Martisorul- Romania

The Student Folkloric Ensemble “Mărţişorul” was founded in February 1957 by the first director of the Student Culture House of the University Center Cluj-Napoca, Mr. Laurenţiu Hodorog, and is considered one of the nation’s best. Composed of amateurs, it is highly appreciated both for its originality and its great talent that promotes the traditional and creative spirit of the Romanian people. Mărţişorul’s performances include authentic Romanian folk songs and dances from most ethnographic areas of the country, such as dance and song suites from Banat, Moldavia, Oltenia, Maramureş and especially various regions of Transylvania. 

Folkmoot will also include American ethnic groups for interactive pavilion activities, including greek Chinese, Scottish and Mexican vendors, dancers and storytellers.

Folkmoot Presents: Camp Folkmoot 2019 “Hands around the Globe”

Folkmoot: Camp Folkmoot 2019

As many people now know, “Folkmoot” means “meeting of the people.” The Folkmoot Festival provides communities throughout western North Carolina the opportunity to build a deeper sense of connection and respect with people from around the world while celebrating cultural arts.  

An important aspect of the Festival is its engagement of youth and families in the Folkmoot experience. One such opportunity, Camp Folkmoot, is designed to bring regional students, groups, and families together with local and international performance troupes. Camp Folkmoot is a one-day dance camp for kids and teens between 3rd and 12th grades. At Camp Folkmoot, participants have opportunities to share their own cultural heritage, learn the history of the traditional dance and what makes each participating culture unique. Further, Camp Folkmoot offers “make and take” for students to have the chance to create cultural crafts and keep as mementos of their experience as well as make lantern for Folkmoot After Dark. 

The camp is open to dancers of all abilities who are inspired by dance and cultural arts. Participants will learn basic concepts and movements, gain an appreciation for the similarities and differences between cultures and hear captivating stories behind the dances of each international cultural group. 

The 2019 Camp Folkmoot takes place on Friday, July 19 from 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. at the Folkmoot Friendship Center. The cost is $30.00 for students and $10 for any accompanying adult. Camp participants are invited to attend the Queen Auditorium Matinee performance of all festival groups, starting at 2 pm. Families and youth groups are encouraged to register soon to save a space for your child. Snacks, lunch, and drinks will be provided. Discounts are available to groups of four or more if registered together. 

For more information, contact Caroline Brown Williamson at caroline@folkmoot.org. Register at Folkmoot.org or by calling 828-452-2997.

A Special Night with the Darren Nicholson Band

A perennial favorite of Western North Carolina music lovers, Balsam Range member Darren Nicholson (Darren Nicholson Music) – and his band – hosted a concert and an open jam last night at Folkmoot Center | Queen Auditorium.

We had a great turnout, a greater time, and we look forward to hosting Darren and the boys again later this year!