Great Balsam Songwriters in the Round Series

Long-running Songwriters in the Round Series Continues at the Folkmoot Center

Begun at an inn in Balsam, NC, in 1996 and modeled after similar performances at Nashville’s famous Bluebird Café, the Great Balsam Songwriters in the Round Series, now hosted at the Historic Hazelwood School/Folkmoot Center, presents signature in-the-round shows featuring talented songwriters and performers. Many performances feature Grammy and CMA award winners, and all include writers of many top-ranked songs. Good food, good drink, a warm atmosphere and extraordinary talent are always on tap!

RB Morris, David Childers and Scott Miller perform in the round, May 18, 2019



Doors open at 6pm for food, cash bar and conversations with the songwriters. Music begins at 7:15


112 Virginia Ave., Waynesville
Historic Hazelwood School | Folkmoot Center | Queen Auditorium

Irene Kelley, Scott Miller and Tim Stafford open our 2020 Great Balsam Songwriters in the Round Series!

The Great Balsam Songwriters in the Round Series begins its 2020 season with Scott Miller, Irene Kelley and Tim Stafford live in the round at Queen Auditorium on the Folkmoot Center campus.

In the Round performances are particularly intimate, and feature musicians in a circle in the middle of the room, with the audience seated all around. The performers trade songs and stories about the songwriting trade. The style was popularized by the legendary Bluebird Cafe in Nashville, and most of our performers have played that venue many times.

Now almost 25 years old, the Great Balsam series is in its second year at Queen Auditorium, and launches 2020 with a stellar performance featuring Irene Kelley, who has written for Alan Jackson, Ricky Skaggs and Loretta Lynn, Scott Miller, formerly of the V-Roys and Scott Miller and the Commonwealth, and Tim Stafford, who was part of Alison Krauss and Union Station and and a founding member of Blue Highway.

The 2020 Great Balsam Songwriters in the Round Series at Folkmoot is sponsored by Suzanne and Alan Klimek.

All music at the Folkmoot Center | Queen Auditorium is sponsored in part by the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area.

Irene Kelley and her current “Benny’s TV Repair” album on Mountain Fever Records earned 5 nominations in 4 categories at the SPBGMA Awards and was recently featured on the cover of the of The Bluegrass Standard magazine.

Irene’s many songwriting accomplishments include hits like “A Little Bluer Than That,” for Alan Jackson, as well as songs performed and recorded by Ricky Skaggs & Sharon White, Loretta Lynn, Trisha Yearwood, the Osborne Brothers and many more. After three decades of work, Irene has assumed her place in a long line of great American songwriters.

She’s been seen and heard at the Grand Ole Opry, the CMA Music Festival, IBMA, Folk Alliance International, the Americana Music Festival, the Equi Blues Music Fest (France), Avila Beach Music Fest (CA), BayFest (AL) and many other venues.

Syndicated on-air appearances include Acoustic Café, NPR’s Live at Mountain Stage, CMT, and GAC as well as airplay on Country, Bluegrass, Folk and Americanaradio stations worldwide.

She also was a recipient of ASCAP’s Most Performed Songs Award in 1983 for “Love Can’t Ever Get Better Than This” Ricky Skaggs & Sharon White.

Recently inducted to the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame, fiery roots-rock singer/songwriter Scott Miller (The Scott Miller) has returned to his native Virginia to tend the family farm while continuing to release and perform new music informed by that rural area, history, and Appalachia.

Miller has recently toured with Patty Griffin, Robbie Fulks, Paul Thorn, Robin & Linda Williams, and American Aquarium.

In 1994, Miller helped form a band called the V-Roys, which was the first act signed on Steve Earle’s label, E-Squared Records.
After the V-Roys split up in ’99, Miller formed a new band, Scott Miller and the Commonwealth, which was briefly the house band on Blue Collar TV. The Lexington Herald-Leader wrote of Miller’s first albums after the V-Roys as “strong, folk-infused songs” in which “the boozy charm of his music was innocuous.”

In addition to solo shows, Miller plays some shows with a full Commonwealth band lineup, but more often plays trio shows with what he has come to call the Commonwealth Ladies Auxiliary (bass player Bryn Davies and fiddler Rayna Gellert).

Miller’s songs reflect his degrees in American History and Russian Studies, with references to his home, family, history, geography, writers and Appalachia.

After developing his skills with several bands through the 1980’s, Tim Stafford joined Alison Krauss’s band Union Station in 1990 and helped record a Grammy-winning CD, Every Time You Say Goodbye (Rounder, 1992). Tim left to form Blue Highway in 1994 with Wayne Taylor, Shawn Lane, Rob Ickes and Jason Burleson. The band is one of the most decorated and influential in bluegrass history: nominated for three Grammys, winner of a Dove Award, and nearly 30 IBMA Awards. In March 2016, Blue Highway was named the most popular bluegrass artist in history in an online poll by Bluegrass Today.

Tim is a prolific songwriter, with over 250 songs recorded. He co-wrote IBMA’s 2008 Song of the Year, “Through the Window of a Train,” and was named IBMA’s Songwriter of the Year in 2014 and 2017. In addition, he is a sought-after studio musician, having recorded with over 75 artists in addition to Blue Highway, including Willie Nelson, Kenny Chesney, Jorma Kaukonen and many more. Tim was named SPBGMA Guitar Performer of the Year in 2001 and 2015.

He has produced many award-winning records for various artists, including Kenny Chesney, The Infamous Stringdusters (IBMA 2007 co-album of the Year) , and Knee Deep in Bluegrass, the Acutab Sessions (IBMA 2001 Instrumental Recorded Performance of the Year).

Previous Performers in the Great Balsam Songwriters in the Round Series at Queen Auditorium

October, 2019: Alma Russ, John Wiggins, Isaiah Breedlove and Gary Hannan

Great Balsam Songwriters in the Round Series at Folkmoot's Queen Auditorium featuring John Wiggins, Gary Hannan, Alma Russ and Isaiah Breedlove

We closed our 2019 season with an October showcase of three regional favorites: Haywood County’s own John Wiggins, Sylva resident and American Idol Golden Ticket winner Alma Russ, and Cashiers’s Isaiah Breedlove, joined by the globetrotting Gary Hannan.

Pre-show release

Visit Alma Russ here
Visit Isiah Breedlove
Visit Gary Hannan here
Visit John Wiggins here

May, 2019: Scott Miller, RB Morris and David Childers

Scott Miller, David Childers and RB Morris in the Great Balsam Songwriters in the Round Series at Folkmoot's Queen Auditorium

Scott Miller, founding memory of the V-Roys and later Scott Miller and the Commonwealth joined Mount Holly resident and “North Carolina treasure” David Childers and Knoxville poet, playwright and songwriter RB Morris for an extraordinary evening at Queen Auditorium.

Pre-show release

Visit Scott Miller here
Visit RB Morris here
Visit David Childers here

April, 2019: Claire Lynch, Jerry Salley and Irene Kelley

Great Balsam Songwriters in the Round with Jerry Salley, Claire Lynch and Irene Kelley

Three-time International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Female Vocalist of the Year, Claire Lynch, with a voice described by Dolly Parton as “one of the sweetest, purest and best lead voices in the music business today,” joined extraordinary veteran  tunesmiths Irene Kelley and Jerry Salley for a wonderful night in Waynesville.

Pre-show release
Blog post about recent accolades for these musicians

Visit Claire Lynch here
Visit Irene Kelley here
Visit Jerry Salley here

February, 2019: David Olney, Peter Cooper, Gwil Owen and Darren Nicholson

David Olney, Peter Cooper Gwil Owen and Darren Nicholson in the Great Balsam Songwriters in the Round Series at Folkmoot's Queen Auditorium

After its move from Balsam, our series opened at Folkmoot’s Queen Auditorium with master craftsman, acclaimed singer/songwriter and globe-trotting performer David Olney; one of Nashville’s “10 Most Interesting People” in songwriter and music scholar Peter Cooper, prolific composer and Academy Award nominee Gwil Owen, and Haywood County’s own Darren Nicholson, mandolinist for Balsam Range.

Pre-show release

Visit David Olney here
Visit Peter Cooper here
Visit Gwil Owen here
Visit Darren Nicholson here