Great Balsam Songwriters in the Round Series: Scott Miller, Irene Kelley & Tim Stafford

Irene Kelley, Scott Miller, Tim Stafford at Folkmoot

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).

Cultural Crash Course: Dr. Chris Cooper: “Election 2020”

Cultural Crash Course: Election 2020 with Dr. Chris Cooper

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re probably aware that it’s an election year. And you’re probably aware that voting for the Presidency is part of that election. But what about the other elections on the ballot? And what does all of this tell us about the health of our democracy? In this Crash Course, Dr. Chris Cooper will take us on a tour of what we know (and what we don’t) about American democracy as we approach the 2020 elections. While we’ll certainly talk about the Presidential election (how could we avoid it?), the focus will be on elections in North Carolina—the swingiest of the swing states.


Cooper, professor and head of the Department of Political Science and Public Affairs at Western Carolina University, provides expert commentary on matters involving politics and political science in (and beyond) North Carolina.

Cooper’s research focuses on state politics and policy, political communication, political psychology and southern politics. He publishes that research frequently and is commonly seen and heard on media in Western North Carolina during political seasons.

He was named the 2013 “Professor of the Year” in North Carolina by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. That year, he also was honored as one of the top professors in the University of North Carolina system by its Board of Governors.

Among his innovative teaching techniques has been the publication of student research in Wikipedia and exchanging teaching duties via Skype with a professor at another university in a different state.

Earning his bachelor’s at Winthrop University, Cooper received his master’s and doctoral degrees at the University of Tennessee.


Cultural Crash Courses are sponsored by VisitNCSmokies.comThe MountaineerVicinitus Haywood, and Town of Waynesville. Tickets are $10. Doors open at 5:30pm and the lecture begins at 6:00pm.

Folkmoot welcomes Viking Stained Glass

Folkmoot Center Viking Stained Glass John Nelson

In the fall, Folkmoot welcomed John Nelson and his company Viking Stained Glass to one of our leased studio spaces at the Folkmoot Center. John, who splits his business between Waynesville and Charlotte, does restoration of historic stained glass and new designs. He’s shown here with a historic window from Hemphill Baptist Church, along with two of his new pieces.

You can contact John at vikingstainedglass (at) gmail.com.

Interested in a space? Reach out to us here at the Folkmoot Center.

 

Apply Now to be a 2020 Festival Guide or Intern

Folkmoot is in Search of Friendly, Culturally Inquisitive Festival Guides and Interns for Folkmoot 2020

Folkmoot is seeking approximately 20 guides and five interns for our Folkmoot 2020 festival scheduled for July 18 – 26, 2020. 

Guides are cultural ambassadors for Folkmoot’s visiting international performance groups. Guides will assist throughout the festival by helping with language challenges, daily schedules, navigation of American culture while also ensuring a positive experience for Folkmoot festival performers. Additionally, guides assist with festival operations by supporting seamless performances, transportation transitions, and meal coordination while also ensuring our guests’ compliance with Folkmoot guidelines and NC laws.  

Students interested in international studies, language, music, political science, folk arts, communications, and world travel are encouraged to apply. Full guides must be 18 – 25 years of age and reside at the Folkmoot Friendship Center during the festival, accompanying their groups 24-hours a day. Guides are provided with lodging and transportation, four meals each day, and are paid a stipend. Extensive training precedes guide duty beginning Tuesday, July 14; the festival begins on July 18 and services are completed on July 26. 

Folkmoot internships are also available for graduating seniors and regional college students in festival operations, event, sound and stage production, and marketing. Interns are stipended positions and students 18 years and over have the opportunity to reside at the Folkmoot Friendship Center beginning July 1, 2020, through the end of the festival. Interested students should email their resume, a professional recommendation and cover letter to
angie@folkmoot.org.

All Folkmoot Festival workers are required to attend training on cultural sensitivity, cross-cultural communications, leadership, teamwork and festival operations. 

Applications are available at
https://folkmoot.org/2020-guide-application/ and are due by February 28, 2020. For more information please contact Austin Helms, by phone, 828-452-2997 or by email, austin@folkmoot.org 

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. 

Cultural Crash Course: Dr. Yiqing Yang speaks on Elder Abuse from a Multicultural Perspective

Join local experts for Folkmoot’s popular 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 is presented as a 45-minute community lecture followed by questions, answers and discussion. Crash Courses began in 2019 and continue on a monthly basis, with a full schedule of topics and speakers available online at Folkmoot.org 

On Wednesday, February 12, Dr. Yiqing Yang from Western Carolina University speaks on the topic “Elder Abuse from a Multicultural Perspective.”

In the United States, older adults from different racial, ethnic and cultural backgrounds define, experience, and seek to remedy elder abuse differently. Internationally, we see similar variations across countries. Dr. Yang will discuss these issues from a multicultural perspective.

Dr. Yang is Assistant Professor of Sociology at Western, where she’s taught since 2017. Prior to WCU, she Associate Professor at the University of Utah, where she earned her Ph.D. She earned an M.B.A. from the University of Liverpool and a Bachelor’s Degree from Nanjing University.

Cultural Crash Courses are sponsored by VisitNCSmokies.com, The Mountaineer, Vicinitus Haywood, Town of Waynesville. Tickets are $10 ($3 for students). Doors open at 5:30pm and the lecture begins at 6:00pm.

Folkmoot is a year-round cultural organization located in the historic Hazelwood School, 112 Virginia Avenue in Waynesville, NC. Parking is available along Virginia Ave., in front of the Center, or by circling to the rear of the building.

Meet Austin Helms, Folkmoot’s newest staff member

Austin Helms

Austin Helms, of Lenoir, is Folkmoot’s newest staff member, joining us as Marketing and Programs Assistant.

A senior at Western Carolina University, Austin studies Communications with a concentration in Public Relations and a minor in Business Administration. She’s Treasurer for Western’s chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America, and will graduate in May. 

Previously, Austin completed an internship with the City of Lenoir, NC, where she worked with the Public Relations Information Officer and provided updates to the citizens of Lenoir about upcoming events and new business openings. 

One of Austin’s passions has been to work for a non-profit organization, and she’ll work with our Folkmoot team, volunteers, and guides we prepare for our annual Folkmoot festival this summer! 

Detail-oriented and outgoing, Austin enjoys spending time with her labrador, family, and friends, being outdoors, and traveling. 

Join Austin for a trip to Harrah’s Cherokee bowling alley on January 31, 2020 at 6:30p.m. 

Send all RSVP’s to austin@folkmoot.org.

Steve Sutton Memorial Benefit Concert scheduled for March 8 at Folkmoot’s Queen Auditorium

Steve Sutton Memorial Benefit Concert

When Haywood County native and stellar banjo player Steve Sutton died unexpectedly in 2017, he left a legacy of great music and great mentoring. 

His career had carried him to stages around the world, including a stint on the Grand Ole Opry, and he won many awards, including multiple Grammy nominations. At home he was a member of the Whitewater Bluegrass Co., but he was perhaps best known for his kindnesses in lifting up aspiring musicians. 

The Annual Steve Sutton Benefit Concert is an opportunity for his many friends to raise money for the International Bluegrass Music Association Trust Fund and for a scholarship in his name for music students at Waynesville’s Tuscola High School.

The 2020 concert, auction and dinner are scheduled for Sunday, March 8, from 3 until 8pm at Queen Auditorium in the Folkmoot Center in Waynesville, NC. More than a dozen musicians who were friends of Sutton will perform, and unique bluegrass memorabilia from Steve’s collection will be auctioned. After the concert a storytelling gathering will take place to honor Sutton’s legacy, with supper offered for purchase.

Set to perform are the Darren Nicholson Band, the Crowe Brothers, Mark Bumgarner, Marc Pruett, Hazel Creek, Bill Kaman, Mike Hunter, Malcolm Holcombe and the Whitewater Bluegrass Band.

Tickets to the performance are $35 in advance and $40 at the door (if available). Dinner is ticketed separately for $12 and begins at 6 p.m. More information about tickets can be obtained by calling 828-452-2997 or bu clicking the link below.

Cultural Crash Course: The Philosophy of Love and Sex

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.

This Crash Course: Dr. Hoyt says: “How do love and sex fit into a good life? Philosophers have offered many different answers. In this talk, we’ll look at a few of the most famous and helpful of them.”

Doors open at 5:30pm, lecture begins at 6pm. Participants are welcome to bring a “picnic” dinner. Beverages will be available. Tickets are $10 in advance.

Ticket information here.

Darren Nicholson’s Uptown Downhome New Years Eve!

Join Folkmoot for a New Year’s Eve to remember, Tuesday, December 31st! It’ll be an evening designed for music lovers and sweethearts, featuring Balsam Range’s Darren Nicholson, Jennifer Nicholson, Waynesville’s own Bohemian Jean and percussionist Richard Foulk sharing an eclectic mix of jazz standards, R&B, country, bluegrass, blues and more. Tickets are $50 per person.
 
Folkmoot will serve festive hors d’oeuvres and celebratory beverages throughout the evening. Craft beer and champagne cocktails will be available for purchase and revelers will receive a complimentary champagne toast to ring in the New Year. All activities will be held in the Queen Auditorium.
 
Tickets: https://www.showclix.com/event/darren-nicholson-new-year-s-eve-celebration or 828-452-2997
 
Darren Nicholson is a Grammy Award Nominee and a recipient of the International Bluegrass Music Association’s – Album of the Year award, and has appeared countless times on WSM’s Grand Ole Opry, at the Ryman Auditorium, and many of the world’s most famous venues. In addition to his work with Balsam Range, Nicholson is a tireless solo performer, and recently released a new solo acoustic recording “Fret a Spell”. He’ll be joined on New Years by his wife Jennifer, whose extraordinary vocal range lends itself to a variety of tunes, including wonderful standards.
 
Bohemian Jean is a husband and wife duo made up of Waynesville residents Matthew Welborn and Jessi Stone. The two have been performing Matthew’s originals and Jessi’s favorite covers together for more than 15 years. Jessi chooses songs that suit her soulful alto voice — including hits from Janis Joplin, Stevie Nicks, Patsy Cline and Bonnie Raitt — while Matthew plays acoustic guitar, provides rich harmonies and shares his original songs as well. Matt and Jessi are also members of local band Stone Crazy.
 
Asheville-based percussionist Richard Foulk is known across the region for his live and studio music, including work with the popular band Sons of Ralph, Balsam Range and the Honeycutters.
 
Onsite babysitting services will be available for youth, $20 per child between 4 and 12 years old. Each additional child is $10.
 
Menu
Items served on each table
Mountain Blackeyed Pea Caviar with Chips
Charcuterie Tray of assorted meats, cheeses, spanish tortilla, olives and bread
Spinach Artichoke Dip with assorted fresh vegetables
 
Served on trays by Servers during music breaks
Chicken Sate with Peanut Sauce
Shrimp and grit with a tomato and bacon jam
Philly beef sliders
 
Sweet Treats
Served on each table
Shortbread cookies
Raspberry Cheesecake
Chocolate truffles
 
Served on a Round Table for self serve
Chocolate Fondue with oranges, strawberries, pineapple, pretzels and sponge cake

Fall Newsletter, 2019

2019 Folkmoot Gala Under the Stars
Two excerpts from our Fall Newsletter are immediately below. Scroll down to view the print version!

Letter from the Director and the President

As a member of the Friends of Folkmoot, and as a ticket buyer to Folkmoot events, you know how arts and culture makes our community more vibrant. We have an extraordinary quality of life in these mountains, and you have contributed to this richness with your ticket purchases and donations. Thank you!

With the help of Folkmoot supporters, we have grown from a two-week international folk festival to a year-round arts and cultural center, hosting close to fifty events each year. We now feature a variety of cultural arts – music, crafts, storytelling, literary arts, food and beverage – and none of it would have happened if you hadn’t helped to make it so.

This fall we have a meaningful opportunity to move the organization to yet another level, and we hope you will consider it an opportunity to contribute. We’re installing heat and air throughout the entire 40,000 square-foot Folkmoot Center, and have begun to host artists’ studios in several classrooms, adding another dimension to what we do, and to what you support. Another important step in this direction in 2019 was a long-term lease agreement with Project SOAR, a boarding school, for ten-month-a-year use of Building B.

Consistent, year-around, multi-faceted use of all areas of the Folkmoot Campus will continue our push toward financial sustainability.

The cost of the HVAC project is $305,000, and we’re approaching that goal, with only about $125,000 needed to complete the project this fall. Every little bit helps! If you’re inclined to contribute, you’ll be part of the transformation that makes Folkmoot financially sustainable.

In addition, we’re seeking sponsors for the artists fees and staffing of programs we’re presenting, including the new Mountain Memories Variety Show, Great Balsam Songwriters in the Round, Southern Storytellers Series, Cultural Crash Courses and Friendship Dinners. We’re seeking $5,000 in sponsorship for each of these programs.

Now that you know our aim, we’d like to frame the value of your investment in Folkmoot: our programs help communicate that cultural differences form our identities, and that sharing and embracing the diversity of many cultures in one community makes life more vibrant, interesting and beautiful. In a time of unfortunate division, Folkmoot does its small part to make the world a warmer and more creative place. We hope you’ll continue to find value in our mission and support us!

Thanks in advance for remembering Folkmoot in your holiday giving. We will make good use of your investment and our community will have even more to enjoy.

Sincerely,

Angeline Schwab, Executive Director | angie@folkmoot.org

David B. Francis, Board President | david@folkmoot.org

A Note about our 2019 Festival

Each Folkmoot Festival is the culmination of two years of careful planning, with travel arrangements in place well in advance. It’s something we’re used to.

Still, international travel is complicated, especially for large groups from many countries, and in today’s travel climate. We expect the loss of a performance group here and there. It’s impossible, however, to anticipate the loss of three performance groups, at the last minute, in a single year. That’s what happened in 2019, and we’re still recovering! We lost groups from Colombia, Nepal and a much larger group from the Bahamas at well past the time we could’ve replaced them.

It was a disappointment for all of us, for our audiences, and even for the other performers. Some of our friends let us know by email and phone how disappointed they were, while others didn’t make their customary ticket purchases after the parade. It’s been a tough year, festival-wise.

As a result, we’ve made some changes to the way we approach things, and will add further measures to prevent a recurrence. We understand fully that our audiences want variety, and we’re on track for eight international groups this year.

Our apologies for disappointing some of you, and hope you’ll get excited about the 2020 lineup, which we’ll begin announcing in the spring!