Not a festival report, but a great story! TRIP TO MARSHALL NORTH CAROLINA
by Katie Brutcher

This past March, it was so wonderful to have our friends Mac & Cathy Claflin visit us at our Florida residence.  Their visit was dual purpose.  Not just to visit us and enjoy a vacation in central Florida, but to bring me back home, by way of North Carolina, where they lived for many years. 
     For those of you who don't know who Mac Claflin is, let me write a small bio on him.  He had his own band called "Mac Claflin and the Country Rhythm Boys".  They backed up many Nashville acts that came to the Syracuse area.  He was also a country music DJ and worked at WOSC, WSEN, & WSCP radio stations.  In 2003, Mac was inducted into the NY State Country Music Hall of Fame.  He briefly lived in North Carolina where he co-founded a band called Mountain Top Express and where he met and became good friends with Bobby Hicks, who is a member of the Grand Ole Opry.  It is our good fortune that he, along with his wife Cathy, have returned to the Central NY, residing in Fulton, NY and is now teaching fiddle lessons and blessing us with his many talents and friendship. 

While they were visiting us in Florida, we took them to a small local restaurant called Acropolis Italian Restaurant that hosts bluegrass music on Tuesday nights.  Both my husband John and Mac were called on stage to play a few numbers. 
      Then it was off to Auburndale, FL to the International Market Place, where they host bluegrass music every Thursday night along with a dinner buffet.  Three or four bands usually play along with a troop of cloggers that showcase their fancy foot work during band changes.
      As an added note, John now has his own band down in Florida called, the Lazy River Band.  He had his first PAYING gig recently.  Unfortunately, I missed his performance, but understand it went over really well. 

Anyways, after a much too short visit, I left my husband in sunny Florida where I started my trek back home, by way of North Carolina, with the Claflin's.  Somehow, this just doesn't seem fair!

On our way to NC, we overnighted in Columbia, SC, where we spent Friday night at Bill's Music Shop & Pick'in Parlor.  Also known as "The Bluegrass Store".  The original owner, Bill Wells, established this parlor as a place to sit and listen, sing, and of course, pick bluegrass music.  The locals, apprehensive at first, but then eagerly accepting Mac, when he easily was able to take a break and showcase what he could do.  Way to go Mac!  It was after midnight when we bid our farewells.

Our home for the next week, was a sleepy town called Mills River located in western NC.  Beautiful mountain vistas and meandering rivers set the stage for this area that comes alive with bluegrass music when the sun goes down.

Located in Transylvania County, (yes, that's no  joke) Cathey's Creek Community Center as a jam every Saturday night.  The leader for this jam is a Cherokee Indian named Joe Byers.  In his younger years, he played with the Stanley Brothers.  I spent some talking with him during the intermission.  He is fascinating individual. 




The next day, we headed off to a private house party where Mac & Cathy's friends welcomed them back to the area.  What a adventure it was to get to this place!  Try to imagine a very steep grade, dirt road and  switch-back turns for over a mile!  Did I forget to mention that it's one lane!  I wasn't sure our rent-a-car would get us there, but it did and the view at the top was incredible.  It took my breath away. 

The log home was something out of Architectural Digest.  Our small house jam consisted of five fiddlers, four guitars, and a mandolin player.  Roger Howell, an extraordinary fiddle player was there.  He is currently working on compiling hundreds of tunes in a CD project for a local university.  Of course, everyone there was a well accomplished musician.  It was a real treat to be there.





Next up was the infamous Feed & Seed.  It is actually a church unlike any church I've every been in or could imagine.  It brings in bluegrass bands Thursday, Friday & Saturday and a local jam on Monday nights.  They now have a "live stream" set up so you can watch their shows as they happen.  You can check them out at:  Shows start at 7:30PM.

     Of course, the highlight of the whole trip, was going to a coffeehouse called "Zuma's" in Marshall, NC.  The legendary, Bobby Hicks, hosts a bluegrass jam every Thursday night.  The town of Marshall is in Madison County where many famed fiddlers are from.  This particular evening, Adam Masters, who plays twin fiddles with Bobby Hicks was there, Roger Howell, Cathy Arrowood on bass, local talent Price Bharma on guitar and his daughter Kathryn on fiddle and many other local talent.  Leonard, who was one of the original Kingsmen Quartet, played guitar.  Some of his tunes he played included, "Old Flame Like You", "Daddy played the Guitar" and the "A & E Waltz".  Of course, Mac kept things heated up with his version of "Devil's Dream".  I was sorry to see the evening end.
       I feel very fortunate to have been introduced to so many great musicians and exposed to so much bluegrass music. 






I'd like to take this opportunity and  thank Mac & Cathy Claflin for broadening my musical horizons, being awesome chaperones and giving me a trip of a life time.  I'm humbled by your generosity and friendship.   I will forever cherish these memories made.