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I have performed at the Shindig and I serve as Master of Ceremonies a few times during the summer, so one day I just felt the need to chronicle what the Shindig is all about.  Balsam Range’s Marc Pruett is an alumnus of the Shindigs, so he was the logical one to provide the five string accompaniment with Josh playing all the other instruments. In my lyrics I tried to capture the tone and feeling of the great fun that is prevalent every Saturday night from July till Labor Day. A big hats off to the volunteers who are members of the Folk Heritage Committee. They are a very dedicated group of folks who “keep our past alive”. Check out their website – www.folkheritage.org. See you at the Shindig along about sundown!

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From my bedroom window growing up in Canton, I could see Cold Mountain, the subject of Charles Frazier's award-winning novel, but it was just another mountain to me back then.  I had heard about the 1946 B-25 Bomber crash, but really became a student of the tragedy after reading Doris Rollins Cannon's book about the crash and after meeting Roy Moody, the local historian who is an expert on the crash.  Doris grew up on Love Joy Road in Bethel, and Roy grew up near Lake Logan.  As a child I remember my older brother pointing out a glimmer on a mountain far away and telling me that it was the wreckage of an airplane.  No remnants of the aircraft remain today on the north side where the crash occurred.  Josh's haunting music and Tony's percussion strokes will resonate with anyone who appreciates the history of the bomber crash.  A propeller blade from the wreckage can be found in the Canton Museum on Park Street.

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The son of a friend of mine had experienced some substance abuse difficulties and upon returning home said, “You know, Mom, since I got home the fireflies seem just a little bit brighter”. When she told me this, I went home and wrote this song. It is not about him personally, but rather a universal song about redemption and recovery from alcohol and drug addiction. The song is very simple, but I’m sure many people can identify with the theme if they have hit some difficult bumps along life’s road.

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This song was inspired in the late 70’s as I was reflecting on a lady friend I knew at the time. After we parted company, while in a somber mood I wrote this song. She was quite attractive, and I always wondered how her life unfolded over the years after we lost track of each other. I’ve modified it some as the years have passed, so it’s been a work in progress. Josh captured just the right mood with his musical arrangement.

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After Asheville was named Beer City, USA for the fourth time in 2012, and we were gaining more prominence as a craft beer mecca, I wrote this song. My friends, well-known newspaper columnist, Tony Kiss – The Beer Guy, and Oscar Wong – President and CEO of Highland Brewing, and the first of our local brewers - both provided inspiration for this song. New breweries are opening in the area as we speak, and more jobs are resulting from this movement, which is a positive for our local economy. “I’ll drink to that!”

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When Hurricane Frances came through Western North Carolina in September, 2004, we experienced the worst flooding since 1940. When I visited Canton and saw the damage, I was inspired to write this song. As in 1940, the paper mill experienced costly damage to motors and equipment. In the town itself, the football field, the armory, homes, and a number of merchants felt the wrath of Frances. Hurricane Ivan came through about ten days later and repeated the damage with some people losing their lives in Macon County. With a haunting eeriness, Josh’s old-time banjo licks and Tony Creasman’s percussion work bring back memories of “that sad and awful day”.

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Having attended all Bele Chere festivals since the inaugural one in 1979, I decided in 2000 to write a song capturing as many elements of the festival as I could recall.  The late legendary Doc Watson had played the event when I wrote the song, so I decided to leave his name in the piece since he was a tremendous inspiration to me and to many other musicians.  After David Holt started touring with him, I tried to catch every concert I could.  A few events I mention in the song phased out over the years; and unfortunately, it was announced that 2013 would be the final festival. I’ve had a lot of fun with this song when doing live performances. Long live the memories and the spirit of Bele Chere Magic!

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I learned to play pool at the “Old YMCA” in Canton, and shot a fairly decent game as a kid. While I was on break from college, a younger kid challenged me to play him since he had gotten “real good”. I embellished the lyrics a bit since back in the ‘60’s kids did not have custom-made cues.  Only real hustlers were armed with them when they were on the prowl seeking pool room prey. Also, we didn’t have five dollars to gamble with back then. When I did have a “five spot”, I used it to woo my “hot date” with a movie and a trip to McDonald’s! This is a true story which proves that everyone has their fifteen minutes of fame.  This was mine! And, to ensure I didn’t embarrass the kid who called me out back then, I used Kelly Cool as a pseudonym.

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A career sailor and I were sitting in a bar in 1970 when I was on active duty in the Navy stationed on an aircraft carrier, the USS WASP, working for an admiral who had been JFK’s personal Naval Aide. The petty officer was pretty well smashed and said to me, “Son, my girlfriend has a Scotch and water taste and I’ve got a Budweiser billfold!” I went back to the ship and wrote this song based on his story. Chris Rosser’s honky-tonk piano takes me back to that evening in the bar as I reflect on my conversation with that forlorn sailor. Our paths never crossed again, but I hope life dealt him some good cards!

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The Pigeon River is a beautiful body of water – turbulent as it comes off the mountain tops, but docile as it winds alongside the paper mill in Canton where I grew up. We fished and swam in the Pigeon, but always above the mill – “up the river” as we used to say. In the mid-seventies I was reflecting on my late grandmother and two great uncles whom I remembered well and who were all born in the 1870’s. I had learned a lot about the old mountain culture and sayings from my grandmother, and Josh gave this song that old timey sound with his bright, lilting fiddle work. The song draws on some of the values and philosophies the old timers lived by in a bygone era.

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At St. Eugene Catholic Church, the priest in 2004 was a brilliant scholar who had a hand puppet he called Charlie. As the kids left the sanctuary for children’s church, one of them got to hold Charlie on his hand. As Father Frank would say, “This stuff gets pretty complicated, so Charlie goes along to help out!”  I found this weekly ritual to be quite heart- warming as the proud child smiled looking at Charlie as the children headed for the classroom. It was a natural – “Charlie the church mouse; he lives in God’s house, helping the children find the way”.

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While watching 60 Minutes on television one Sunday evening in 1981, some pre-school children were singing Jesus Loves Me, which evoked a feeling about the relationship between a mother and her child. My reflection on the special bond that exists stimulated my emotions at that time, so I came up with very soft words and music to complement the imagery. Here again, Josh captured the mood perfectly with his beautiful musical accompaniment. This song is for all moms not just on Mother’s Day, but every day as they comfort their “God given treasure”.

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Religious groups who engage in poisonous snake handling are legendary in the Appalachian Mountains, and on occasion a newspaper article would surface with an account of the death of a participant from a snake bite. This song which I wrote a few years ago is intended to be general in nature, and is not about a specific incident. The song is written with respect for all faiths, and is strictly a piece of Appalachian history put to music.

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Having been involved with the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival and the Lunsford Festival at Mars Hill University for many years; and having met Mr. Lunsford in the 60’s, this tribute came easy as I reflected on the many people I have known over the years in the mountain music family. I vividly remember Mr. Lunsford standing on the edge of the stage at the old City Auditorium – now the Thomas Wolfe Auditorium - inviting musicians and dancers to come out and give it their best. He always wore a white suit and was known to say,” Wear the best you got”. He would let the young musicians display their talents, and many who played the festival over the years have achieved international fame and some are Grammy Award winners today – Marc Pruett, Bryan Sutton, and David Holt – to name a few.

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While I was cresting Old Fort Mountain one foggy, rainy evening in 1978, the car radio newscaster said, “Old Fort Mountain has claimed another life”. I thought “Old Fort Mountain’s made a widow of a wife”. I went home and penned this song, which I decided to record in 1981. When I worked as a radio announcer at WPTL in Canton in the ‘60’s, I became acquainted with a young Raymond Fairchild who formerly played for donations in Maggie Valley at the late Ted Sutton’s Hillbilly Fun House. I used to invite Raymond to play on my radio show; thus, a lifelong friendship was born. Raymond agreed to help me with my record, as did Madison County’s legendary Arvil Freeman and Raymond’s backup group at that time, the Crowe Brothers. We never practiced together before we went into the studio owned by Eddie Swann at that time.  They didn’t need to! They played what they felt after they heard my lyrics and tune. Steven Heller, who later won a Grammy producing Doc Watson and David Holt’s Legacy CD, was the studio engineer.