Buncombe Turnpike, PacJAM musicians to headline Bluegrass and Bar-B-Que

Published 4:00 pm Wednesday, May 11, 2016

PacJAM student Ethan Arrowood, left, and his sisters, PacJAM instructors Carley and Ashley Arrowood, will be performing during the dinner hour at the Tryon Fine Arts Center’s upcoming fundraiser, Bluegrass and Bar-B-Que, June 9. (photo submitted)

PacJAM student Ethan Arrowood, left, and his sisters, PacJAM instructors Carley and Ashley Arrowood, will be performing during the dinner hour at the Tryon Fine Arts Center’s upcoming fundraiser, Bluegrass and Bar-B-Que, June 9. (photo submitted)

Diners at the Tryon Fine Arts Center’s upcoming Bluegrass and Bar-B-Que event, June 9, are in for a treat as Asheville bluegrass legends, Buncombe Turnpike, will provide a rousing good time before and after dinner, entertaining the crowd under the open skies in the Peterson Amphitheater.

But those who love to see the next generation of musicians starting to bloom will not want to miss the dinnertime entertainment. While the 150 lucky attendees are dining under the tents, six local Junior Appalachian Musicians (JAM) students, 8 to 15 years of age, will be performing classic mountain heritage tunes.

The Pacolet Junior Appalachian Musicians (PacJAM) program was formed in August, 2014, by Tryon Fine Arts Center under the leadership of now TFAC executive director, Marianne Carruth, a dedicated advisory board made up of local professional musicians and educators, and program director Rebecca Osteen.

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PacJAM at Tryon Fine Arts Center is one of the 40 affiliates of the Junior Appalachian Musicians (JAM, Inc.) program located in churches, schools and community centers across southern Appalachia in South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia, and is the first offering heritage music instruction in this area.

This past spring, PacJAM at Tryon Fine Arts Center served 31 students from Polk and Rutherford Counties as well as Northern Greenville and Spartanburg counties providing instrument instruction each Wednesday at TFAC on banjo, guitar, fiddle, mandolin, as well as Appalachian Enrichment Studies in singing, dance and Appalachian folklore.

PacJAM instructors Carley Arrowood on fiddle, Autumn Arrowood, mandolin, Phil Johnson, guitar, Gaye Johnson, singing and enrichment studies, and Trey Hodge on banjo, all play professionally and are long time supporters of bluegrass and old time music and are dedicated to the preservation of Appalachian music and related arts for young people across this region.

When Helen White, founder of JAM, Inc., started the program in 2000, she said the traditional old time and bluegrass music was largely unknown to the children of her school in Sparta, N.C. Although mountain music was central to the Allegheny County culture, by 2000, it was fading from view, she said.

“There were still a few good players sprinkled around and an influx of ‘revivalists’ who had moved to the area,” White said, “But for the most part, traditional old time and bluegrass music was unknown to area children.”

In order to preserve a vital part of the mountain culture, and to offer positive activities for underserved youth, Ms. White and local musicians, arts organizations and school personnel founded the JAM program. Support has come from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area and the Dana Foundation.

The fruits of those efforts will be on display June 9 at the Tryon Fine Arts Center as PacJAM students will provide musical entertainment for the barbecue attendees.

Young PacJAM guitarist, Ethan, will be singing the traditional bluegrass gospel tune “By The Mark” accompanied by sisters and PacJAM instructors Carley and Autumn Arrowood. Carley presently tours with Darin and Brooke Aldridge and both she and Autumn also perform as The Arrowood Sisters.

Second year PacJAM student Alaina, who has had formal training in violin, but enjoys the excitement of the fiddle, and Alex, candidate for the Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics in Hartsville, S.C., will perform their fiddle and mandolin rendition of “Old Joe Clark.”

Up and coming PacJAM banjoist Sam, along with sister Sarah on fiddle, and Junie Mae on guitar will join in the collective’s performances of familiar tunes such as “Cumberland Gap,” “Boil Them Cabbage Down,” and “The Old Bell Cow,” led by PacJAM instructors and revered musical duo Phil and Gaye Johnson.

“This community is so fortunate to have access to such a great facility and non-profit organization as Tryon Fine Arts Center, the only one of its kind in this area,” PacJAM director Osteen said. “PacJAM has recently completed the second successful year of group instruction at TFAC and I am extremely grateful for the fine support of volunteers, sponsors and donors who help bring these Arts In Education programs to this area. Without community support and dedicated individuals, exceptional after school programs such as this simply do not exist.”

In addition to all the music, there will be a delicious barbecue dinner cooked by Bright’s Creek Chef John Wilson, with the assistance of special guest Jim Tabb, the founder of the Blue Ridge BBQ Festival.

Bar-B-Que and Bluegrass is a fundraiser event for TFAC. For tickets, please visit tryonarts.org, call 828-859-8322, or visit the box office at 34 Melrose Avenue.

For enrollment information for PacJAM Summer Camp, July 18 – 22, or fall enrollment for kids ages 8 to 14, please contact Rebecca Osteen at pacjam@tryonarts.org.

– article submitted by Jeff Byrd