Balsam Range announces Winter Concert Series

Award winners, legends to appear at Canton’s Colonial Theater
By Mary Ann Enloe | Dec 04, 2013
Balsam Range’s Buddy Melton, Darren Nicholson, Tim Surrett, Marc Pruett, Caleb Smith

Haywood County's own IBMA-award-winning bluegrass-and-more band Balsam Range blasts off with a bang Saturday night at Canton's historic Colonial Theater with their fourth annual "Winter Concert" series.

Their first guests are the Jeff Little Trio. It's one-of-a-kind and promises to be a barn-burner.Piano had almost nothing to do with the roots of traditional mountain music. Watauga County's Jeff Little changed that. He does what few in the industry dared try — he takes fiddle tunes, infuses them with a honky-tonk, bluegrass beat and sets the ivories on fire.

Saying Jeff Little plays piano is like saying "Choo Choo" Justice played a little football at Carolina. (Youngsters, look it up.) If you're old enough, think JoAnne Castle with an Appalachian attitude.

Icon Doc Watson was a neighbor and customer of Little's family-owned music store in Boone and had a great influence on Jeff Little, who began playing piano when he was five. YouTube selections of Little and Watson playing together shortly before Watson's death will show you this is the real deal.

Saturday night's performance will be a rip-snorter that you won't want to miss. A session musician in Nashville for awhile, Little performed with today's top artists such as Keith Urban. He came back home in 2004 to direct the Music Industry program at Guilford Technical Community College.

Appearing onstage with Little is Steve Lewis, an award-winning guitar and banjo player and teacher who was also a neighbor of Deep Gap's Doc Watson. Lewis started picking the guitar before he started school. The golden years of Charlotte's Arthur Smith Show gave North Carolina and the world some wonderful entertainers. One of them was Tommy Faile, and Steve Lewis's first paying job was with the Tommy Faile band.

Rounding out the trio is upright bass player Josh Scott. Scott is an acclaimed studio musician and performer.

“Normally, there isn’t a lot for bluegrass and acoustic artists to do in the winter months,” said Balsam Range’s Tim Surrett in a press release. “We started the concert series, in part, to just stay busy in the slower months, but also as something fun for our community and to share the talent of some of the folks we admire.”

Guest artists are chosen by a simple vote by the band, according to mandolin player, Darren Nicholson. “We try to get our own musical heroes and influences to the shows,” Nicholson says. “We want our hometown folks to enjoy the artists that we admire and who inspire us. Plus, these are guest artists who don’t get to play in this area very often.”

At their enormously successful Colonial Theater shows, Balsam Range does a set, their guests do a set, and they all usually jam at the end. It is possible to meet the performers after the show.  Tickets are $20 per person. For information and tickets, call828-235-2760 or go by the Colonial Theater Box Office in Canton.

For information on Balsam Nation membership, visit



12/7/13 Jeff Little Trio (Featuring Flatpick Champ, Steve Lewis)
1/4/14   John Driskell Hopkins (Zac Brown Band)
2/1/14   The Sweet Lowdown (Vancouver Island Music Award winner)
3/1/14   Jeff Collins, Tony Creasman, David Johnson – Recording Studio “Dream Team” (Musicians, Arrangers, Producers)
4/5/14   Carl Jackson, Larry Cordle, Jerry Salley – Country/Bluegrass Legends


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