James Howard Nash, aka "Panhandle Pete" a Haywood County "Legend of Mountain Music"
Homegrown Music: A Haywood County Tradition
Once called the "Gateway to the Smokies," Haywood
County is located just east of the Great Smoky Mountains in the
Blue Ridge range. With deep roots in the Scots-Irish culture of its
people, Haywood County has been blessed with generations of
traditional musicians, who have maintained oral and musical
traditions over the last 200 years. Its performers include
fiddlers, banjo pickers, guitar players, ballad and folk singers,
and clogging and square dance teams. Traditional mountain music is
celebrated in many county events: "Pickin' in the Park" in Canton;
music and dance in Maggie Valley at the Stompin' Ground, known as
the "Clogging Capital of the World"; nightly bluegrass music at the
Maggie Valley Opry House; summer square dancing in downtown
Waynesville; and annual events such as the Smoky Mountain Folk
Festival at Lake Junaluska, Singing on the Mountain and the
Bluegrass Jam Sessions at Fines Creek, and the Christian Harmony
Shaped-Note Singing at Morning Star United Methodist Church.
Worried about keeping the musical traditions alive,
especially as aging musicians and music historians die, Haywood
Countians interested in traditional music began an effort to
preserve the treasured culture and document local history. The
county's community newspaper, the
invited a group of local musicians and music historians to document
the county's traditional music. The paper formed a committee to
sort through the names of performers and choose 14 who best
represented the county's musical heritage. Beginning in March 1997,
the paper began a weekly series of articles featuring 14 local
legends of traditional music and dance; the series was so
successful among readers that the
the 14 articles in tabloid format entitled "Legends of Mountain
Music" on September 1, 1997.
Soon after the tabloid was published the legends
committee welcomed leaders from the library and arts community to
help establish an archive for local mountain music. Haywood County
Public Library now houses an archival and circulating collection of
recorded music and memorabilia from Haywood's past traditional
musicians; recordings of live and studio performances by current
local musicians on tapes, records, and CDs; and videotaped oral
histories from selected musicians and their families; and
The project is documented with information on the
organizations partnering on the project, a three-page written
report on the history and geography of Haywood County, a four-page
report on the Legends of Mountain Music, two CDs, "Homegrown Music,
A Haywood County Tradition," Vols. I and II; a master-list of music
and liner notes/profiles of the musicians on the CDs; the tabloid
"Legends of Mountain Music"; and a videotape.
Originally submitted by: Charles H. Taylor, Representative (11th District).
The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.