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Celebrating 2008 Arts in the Polk County area

I&squo;ve been bouncing around more than ever just trying to sample all the wonderful events happening in our area. I still didn&squo;t see and hear everything, but the following are the highlights I discovered along the way. Please log on to the Tryon Daily Bulletin website at www.tryondailybulletin.com and add comments about your own personal favorite moments in Polk County and Landrum arts from 2008. January gave me the chance to meet bluegrass producer Tom Briggs of Pinecastle records in Columbus, the colorful local artist MONA! by visiting her new gallery in Hendersonville, and wood sculptor Luke Lichterman at his workshop in Green Creek. February introduced me to the intriguing artist Bonnie Bardos of Saluda and pianist Fred Whiskin of Tryon who have filled local venues with their talents all year. While donating my time to the production of The Odd Couple at the Tryon Little Theatre workshop I also interviewed local author Corrie Woods and visiting author Mark Basbanes. March was &dquo;Fantastik&dquo; even if the 30th Super Saturday was a bit chilly and damp. I was lucky enough to start playing music with plectrum banjo master Dan Petrella, enjoyed viewing the &dquo;Offerings&dquo; of Martine House, and watched young Brook Hannon start a career producing local music. I was also in awe over the Harriet and Alan Peoples&squo; Maxfield Parish collection on display. April was blossoming with arts as the Community Chorus changed directors (plus they got me singing choral music again), the Tryon Downtown Association threw a creatively foolish festival, and Tryon Arts & Crafts held the official opening for their gorgeous new Heritage Gallery. Oh, and I can&squo;t forget meeting Dana Bergman, Red Dog, and Noah Stockdale three guitarists who have kept local venues filled with the sonorous sound of strings. May saw the summer arts come to life as the new Columbus Veteran&squo;s Park Concert series started and Soulshine brought musicians like Ronnie Campbell back into the public eye from hibernation. Ronnie Mosseller brought his comedic self back to the Tryon Fine Arts Center stage in You Can&squo;t Take it With You, and local musician Phil Ruff brought home an award from MerleFest. June burst forth with the music from the Summer Tracks Series at Rogers Park and Blue Ridge BBQ Festival while Green Creek resident Doug Dacey&squo;s innovative pottery brought him back an award from Florida. I was also lucky to meet Kimberly Webb (aka Maw Bear) while her paintings added color to Melrose Station for a few months. July blasted off with an ever larger music line up for Columbus&squo; Fabulous Fourth. Tryon Little Theatre kept me running with music and makeup for the youth productions. I was impressed with Hamilton Goodman teaching kids stage combat for the battle scene in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe directed by Marianne Carruth. Full houses and standing ovations greeted the local teens who prowled the cool junkyard set of Cats designed by Sam Lovelace for director Chris Tinkler. August saw the launch of John Bridges country music career working with Brook Hannon. Chris Farrell introduced a thrilling season as the new director of the Tryon Fine Arts Center that revitalized community involvement at the center while bringing in a series of shows that complements rather than competes with the affiliate work presented in the space. September introduced me to colorful visual artists James Williams and Lee Holroyd as well as blind guitarist Rickey Godfrey who paints with sound. The Savoyards also revived a bit of Gilbert & Sullivan to benefit Tryon Fine Arts Center. October wowed me with Frank Vignola & His Rhythm Machine and Tryon Concert Association kicked off its subscription series with a performance from The Academy of St. Martin of the Fields Chamber Ensemble. I was kept singing by Richard Kennedy with the Community Chorus and added a bit of jazz amid three days of performing and visual arts from local artists at the first annual Tryon Arts & Crafts Festival at Harmon Field. November brought the exquisite Cashore Marionettes to the Tryon Fine Arts Center and the 30th Anniversary retrospective of artists who have shown at Upstairs Artspace. I also met former Metropolitan Opera singers Mary Meyers and Rob Linder as they prepared to share their talents for the Thermal Belt Outreach in December. December&squo;s holiday hub-bub had the county ringing with music including the return for the holidays of young guitarist Justin Nels Carlson, a fireside chat with poet Cathy Smith Bowers, and Christmas strolls that filled every inch of town with live music. &bsp;Friday Wake up Columbus! The J&squo;s are back at Elmo&squo;s Too for a rockin&squo; start to the New Year. Jake Hollifield and Abe Reid are no strangers to stirring up a crowd. Since 1989 when the Blue Rags first took Asheville by storm, these fellows have been feeding their high energy talent to dance crowds around the region. Playing as The J&squo;s they mix ragtime with blues and Muddy Waters with AC/DC. Their electric blues will keep the joint jumpin&squo; tonight. In Tryon, Elmo&squo;s invites you to take the stage yourself for Prime Rib and Karaoke night. Saturday Fred Whiskin will start tickling the keys at Lilac Wine & Piano Bar at 7 p.m. You might even find yourself singing along with some of those lovely jazz standards. If you feel like singing country and pop hits try the Karaoke at Elmo&squo;s Too. Sunday Some of the musicians you might find 3 p.m. Sunday at the Elmo’s Too Blues Jam (photo by Dianna Towery) The Elmo&squo;s Too Blues Jam keeps growing! Last week was packed with more musicians coming out of winter hibernation or stopping by after gigs to take part in the friendliest public jam session around. Get over there around 3 p.m. to meet Red Dog & Winkie and plug into the jam. All musicians and friends are welcome to come join in the fun. Coming Soon Did you know a touch of germanium inhibits tarnish in silver? Or that it will fuse and eliminate the need for solder? On Saturday, January 31 learn from instructor Charlotte Caughman about the properties of Argentium silver and techniques of fusing jump rings for necklace chains or bracelets. Discover design possibilities with texture and tubing. The workshop will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and advance registration is required. To register, please call Tryon Arts and Crafts at (828) 859-8323 or visit www.tryonartsandcrafts.org for information.