Music lovers will not be at a loss for choices when living in or visiting the mountains of western North Carolina. The Asheville area, in particular, is host to an array of summer music festivals and venues.
For a true taste of the Asheville, NC music scene, stop by the drumming circle on Friday nights (in warm weather months) in Pritchard Park located in the heart of downtown on Patton Avenue at College Street. Here, you can join folks of all walks of life; and watch people dance to thunderous rhythms of dozens of drums.
For another authentic event, check out the Shindig on the Green: June 28, July 5, 12, 19 and August 9, 16, 23 and 30 located in downtown Asheville at Martin Luther King, Jr. Park (around the corner from Pack Square) from 7-10 p.m.; admission is free.
Locals who already enjoy a NC mountain home and Western North Carolina living and visitors, alike, gather around sundown to observe musicians and dancers from across the Western North Carolina area to share the region's stirring southern Appalachian mountain culture and traditions.
Also, don't miss the Mountain Dance and Folk festival. Since 1928, mountain fiddlers, banjo pickers, dulcimer sweepers, dancers, balladeers and others have come to enjoy themselves the first weekend in August.
In 2008, performers at the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival will take to the stage for the 81st time at Diana Wortham Theatre at Pack Place in downtown Asheville on Thursday through Saturday, July 31 through August 2, at 7 p.m. Tickets for the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival are available from the Diana Wortham Theatre at Pack Place box office: 828-257-4530. Get your tickets ahead of time, since many of the evening sell-out.
Bascom Lamar Lunsford founded the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival as a means for people to share and understand the beauty and dignity of the Southern Appalachian music and dance traditions that have been handed down through generations in western North Carolina.
Since its inception, this festival has served a crucial role in raising awareness and understanding of the vitality and importance of southern Appalachian culture throughout the region, nation and world. Lunsford's mission was to present the finest of the Appalachian ballad singers, string bands and square dance teams for education and entertainment. The songs and dances at this event echo centuries of Scottish, English, Irish, Cherokee and African heritage found in the valleys and coves between the Great Smokies and the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Join the 350,000 plus people who flock to downtown Asheville each year for three days of Bele Chere. Six stages provide performances by 80 local and national musical acts. There is lots of food, great art and crafts, and many other activities. Some of the best local and regional artisans showcase their best handcrafted jewelry, pottery, and clothing, along with photography and painting.
For 2008, the festival's main stage, Celebration Stage, will showcase The Wailers and Travis Tritt. Other entertainment will include: Edwin McCain, Steve Azar, Third World, Cowboy Mouth, The Grascals, The Lee Boys, Original P, and Doyle Larson and Quicksilver. Dates are: July 25, 26 and 27.
When it comes to Bluegrass music, the Asheville, NC area offers an array of choices. However, for those who wish to venture into an outlying area for a deeper sense of the local music scene, the traditional music at The Depot in Marshall, NC is a spot not to be missed. And, don't be surprised if someone grabs your hand and invites you to dance. Every Friday the bluegrass jams start at 7:00pm and admission is free.
Finally, if you want to make some music of your own, classes for total beginners in bluegrass and clawhammer banjo, fiddle and mandolin are also offered in Asheville, NC. These beginning classes are for people of all ages, and are taught by Wayne Erbsen, who has taught for over 40 years and authored 25 books on playing various musical instruments. He is host of Asheville's Public Radio WCQS "Country Roots" radio program on Sunday evenings at 88.1 FM from 7:00 -9:00. Visit the web site at: http://www.nativeground.com/.
Above all, the mission of these various venues is to support the preservation and continuation of the traditional music, dance and storytelling heritage of the southern Appalachian Mountains.