Going home: Saluda’s musical heritage explored in soon to be released documentary

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By Kirk Gollwitzer

The old saying is, “You can’t go home again.” But, maybe you can. The Historic Saluda Committee (HSC) has been collecting oral histories through audio and video since 2010, primarily from its senior citizens. A common theme relayed during the gathering of these stories is a deep nostalgia for the rich and diverse musical traditions that were once common in Saluda.

The HSC has enlisted the help of the Polk County Film Initiative to take these histories, collect a few new ones, and then roll them into a fascinating oral history film documentary that portrays Saluda’s rich musical heritage, where the past meets the present.

The oral history film documentary, “Going Home: Saluda’s Music Traditions,” will be released at a film premiere scheduled for Saturday, June 4 at 7 p.m. at the Party Place and Event Center in Saluda. Admission is free and open to the public. DVDs will be available for sale.

Sure to delight, these recollections include tales of the old time square dances, shape note singing, legendary fiddle makers and players, the influence of the railroad, a ragtime pianist, gospel greats, ballad singers, musical miracles, African-American history, Coon Dog Day, a famous baritone crooner and more.

Rolling into the present day, the film features contemporary gospel, old-time and Americana acts, and some of today’s great music venues, including a visit to Studio B at Western North Carolina’s famed radio station WNCW. The film is expected to not only appeal to Saluda’s people, but to folks from all walks of life who appreciate good stories, music and history, especially from a small mountain town in Western North Carolina.

The film is partially supported by the Polk County Community Foundation’s Saluda Fund, the City of Saluda and WNCW, a media sponsor. The chair of the Historic Saluda Committee, Cindy Stephenson Tuttle, is the creator and producer of the project. Associate producers are Martin Anderson and Carolyn Ashburn with the Historic Saluda Oral History Committee.  Cinematography and film editing was done by Kirk Gollwitzer. Location director, first assistant camera and still photography was provided by Lavin Cuddihee.

The Historic Saluda Committee was formed by a group of concerned citizens who wished to preserve the historical integrity of the town. The grassroots effort spawned interest from Saluda City officials and in June 2010 the Saluda City Commissioners voted to make the committee an advisory committee to the city and committee members were appointed.

More information on the project and special screening event can be found at www.historicsaluda.org or email historicsaluda@gmail.com.

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