Songcatchers: Burnsville in Concert

Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the

North Carolina Arts Council

The Twelfth Annual Carolina Mountains Literary Festival is proud to open with music ranging from that which the earliest immigrants brought here from the British Isles, to that which young musicians of this century are both writing and re-discovering.

Please join us for this celebration of Old Ways, New Ways, Change and Tradition with Bruce Greene, North Carolina Poet Laureate Shelby Stephenson, and friends Tim Babb, Tim Clark, Larry Howell, Rob Levin, koreloy mcwhirter, Minnie and Ron Powell, John D. Richards, Susan Scoggins, Patrick and Cathy Larson Sky, and Roberta Whiteside.

From ancient fiddle and pipe, through Tin Pan Alley and Jimmy Rodgers, Hank Williams, Billie Holliday, and the Carter Family, on to thrumming Southern rock, enjoy the best of Burnsville Thursday, September 7 at 7:30.  Free and open to the public.  Doors open at 7:00.

We dare you to not sing along!

TIM BABB (Emcee) moved to Yancey County in 1979, retiring from Yancey County Schools in 2012 after 33 years teaching music and directing bands and choirs.  He currently is an adjunct instructor for Maryland Community College teaching Music Appreciation. Tim received his undergraduate degree in music education from Mars Hill College in 1979 and Doctorate in Musical Arts from the University of South Carolina in 1994.  He is married to Barbara Ott Babb, director of Church Street Preschool.  They have three daughters; Kristin, Heather, and Alecia.  Tim attends First Baptist Church, Burnsville, where he enjoys singing in the choir and ringing handbells.   During leisure time, Tim enjoys hiking, camping, canoeing, kayaking, reading, and grilling.

BRUCE GREENE and KORELOY MCWHIRTER have been singing together for more than thirty years, as can be heard in their close harmonies and sense of communion.  BRUCE GREENE has been playing and preserving the traditional fiddle music of Kentucky since the 1970s. He learned to play from some of the last living fiddlers of that region, whose music had been passed down from the 1800’s.This foundation helped him build upon a style and repertoire unlike any other. 30 years ago, Bruce’s playing more closely mirrored the sources he learned from, but today, it has developed into his own unique style, which still retains many of the traditional elements that make his fiddling sound authentic and ancient.  KORE LOY MCWHIRTER of Yancey County, North Carolina has been singing since early childhood. She has a vast repertoire of traditional songs and ballads from the southern Appalachians and Britain. Many of her songs she learned from her Georgia father as well as from the German and English people she grew up around in a community in Paraguay. Included in her repertoire are many rounds and lullabies.  In addition to her singing, Loy is also an accomplished visual artist. She is well known as the illustrator of the Rise Up Singing songbook.

ROB LEVIN was born at an early age in Baltimore, and has a long-time interest in country blues and old-time music. He started playing guitar as a teenager, and boy are his arms tired!  He moved to NC to teach glassblowing at Penland School and fell in love with the traditional music of the area. Rob played guitar with the late Mitchell County fiddler Red Wilson for a number of years, and appears on Red’s last 2 recordings and on his video. Rob still plays for dances with Bruce Greene and others in our area, and is in several other WNC bands, including Bandana Klezmer and Hot Duck Soup. When not playing music, Rob continues making glass and sculpture; his work is featured in museums & galleries around the country. He and his wife Wanda live in the South Toe area of Yancey County.  TIM CLARK believes it’s enough for you to know that he plays the washtub bass.   JOHN D. RICHARDS John was born in 1936 (gosh he looks good for an old man) in Fond Du Lac Wisconsin (where the @%#* is that?). His mother was an artist & his father a writer. Due to circumstances beyond his control, he moved to Chicago IL, Glens Falls NY, Pelham Manor NY & Saint Just, Puerto Rico by the time he was ten.  He received a BA in English from Union College in Schenectady NY & taught English, Spanish & Art for four long years. In 1963 he quit his job, moved to NYC, took various courses at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn and began his freelance Art career. He has been creatively unemployed ever since. The unfortunate result of that misguided compulsion fills the following pages.  You may have seen his work in Tiffany & Co., Bonwit Teller, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales, The Museum of Contemporary Crafts NYC, The Museum of Modern Art, Jacksonville FL & various publications: House & Garden, American Home, Playboy, Asheville Citizen Times, Yancey Common Times Journal, Laurel of Asheville, Southern Living Magazine, The New York Times, The London Times, Folio & the prestigious Saint Augustine Record to name a few. He has also subjected the unsuspecting public to his art in his various gallery stores: Impressions in Long Branch NJ, The Temple of Great Art, No Spitting in Saint Augustine FL, and Yummy Mud Puddle in Provincetown MA, Nyack NY & now Burnsville NC.

PATRICK SKY began his music career in the 1960s Greenwich Village folk scene, bringing the infectious twang of his Georgia background to his songs. He recorded on the Vanguard and MGM labels, played Carnegie Hall, and rode the folk circuit until 1970, when he met Irish Uilleann piper Liam O’Flynn at the Philadelphia Folk Festival. Pat’s fascination with the pipes led him to an important role in the Irish traditional music revival of that decade. Now a maker and player of the Irish pipes, he is the author of A Manual for the Irish Uilleann Pipes (1978) and the co-founder of the Green Linnet Irish music label. Pat has an MA in Folklore from UNC Chapel Hill, with a focus on early American music publishers. He has been playing pipes and fiddle duets with Cathy Sky since 1988. They have lived in Spruce Pine since 2007. Read more about Pat at   CATHY LARSON SKY was playing guitar and singing in local Rhode Island clubs when she met Patrick during the ‘70s. She has been playing fiddle with Pat’s piping for many years. Cathy is the founder of the Post and Beam Coffeehouse Concert Series, in Kingston, RI. She also has an MA in Folklore from UNC Chapel Hill, with a focus on generational change in the music of County Clare, Ireland. She is also a poet, with her first chapbook, Blue egg, my heart, published in 2014 by Finishing Line Press of Georgetown, KY. Her work appears in WNC Woman, Kakalak, and the Great Smokies Review. In 2015 her poems won 3 awards from the NC Poetry Society, including First Place in the prestigious Thomas H. McDill award. Cathy’s photos, essays, and rants may be found at

RON and MINNIE POWELL have been together for almost 40 years, and for much of that time have been performing, both as a duo and with various local bands.  Ron began playing guitar and performing in the early seventies in Orlando, Florida where he was raised.   He left Orlando after Disney World dramatically changed the town he had grown up in.  Ron had visited Yancey County in 1961 and never forgot the music he heard at the Square Dance hall in Pensacola.  When he returned to Yancey County, he began playing and singing with local musicians and has never stopped.  In 1977, he married Minnie, a local girl who had returned to Yancey County after having moved away as a child.  They have been playing together since the early 1990s. Ron began encouraging Minnie to perform publicly after hearing her sing ballads and lullabies to their daughters. In addition to duo performances, Ron and Minnie have their own band, “Lucky Streak,” performed  in Parkway Playhouse productions of “Esley”, “The Ballad of Tom Dooley”, and “Along About Sundown”.  Minnie also appeared as Patsy Cline’s friend, Louise, in the Parkway production of “Always, Patsy Cline”.    They are regulars at the Yancey County Crafts Fair, and also perform at local fund-raisers, charity benefits, and church functions.

SUSAN SCOGGINS was blessed with a grandmother who sang all the old songs. Thelma (or “Mama” as most folks called her) sang folk songs, love songs ( ballads) , rhymes, and jingles. Her family grew up with music as a way of communicating. That is where her love of music began!  Today, she sings with two local bands: Smokey Joe Peoples and the South Toe Syndicate, and Ragged but Right.  She is the owner of Micaville’s Maples coffeeshop, where  Poets under the Maples is hosted by Mendy Knott on the third Thursday of each month.  Maples is also open late each Thursday with special desserts for the Micaville Music Concerts at the OOAK Gallery next door.

SHELBY STEPHENSON is Poet Laureate of North Carolina.  Recent books:  Elegies for Small Game (Press 53), winner of Roanoke-Chowan Award; Family Matters:  Homage to July, the Slave Girl (Bellday Books), the Bellday Prize.  A Distinguished Alumnus of the English Department, University of Wisconsin-Madison, he is Professor Emeritus, University of North Carolina-Pembroke, serving as editor of Pembroke Magazine from 1979 until his retirement in 2010.  He lives at the homeplace on Paul’s Hill, where he was born, near McGee’s Crossroads, about ten miles north of Benson.

ROBERTA WHITESIDE is married to Rev. Bill Whiteside and resides in Burnsville, NC. She is a graduate of Appalachian State University where she received a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Vocal Performance.She has been employed as  choral director at Cane River and East Yancey middle schools since 2001. Roberta is well known in the community for her vocal stylings and has often been seen in Parkway Playhouse productions such as “All Shook Up,” “Steele Magnolias,” and “Little Shop of Horrors,” and has been Music Director for such shows as “Big River,” ‘Nun Sense” and “She Loves Me.” Mrs. Whiteside is also a teaching artist with Parkway Playhouse jr, musical directing “Music Man jr,” “James and the Giant Peach jr” and “Peter Pan Jr.”  Roberta has been Minister of Music at Sydney Grove Church of Deliverance, Paint Gap Presbyterian Church, Griffith Chapel Church, Green Mountain Presbyterian Church and,at present, Vians Valley Presbyterian Church.