Balsam Range to play last show in Winter Concert Series

By Mary Ann Enloe | Apr 01, 2013
Darren Nicholson Band — Griff Martin, Darren Nicholson, Kevin Sluder, Jeff Smith and Steve Sutton
When Haywood County's white hot bluegrass-and-more band Balsam Range started its Winter Concert Series at Canton's historic Colonial Theatre in 2011, founding member Tim Surrett wondered if anybody would come out on a cold winter night in Canton to hear them. Surrett needn't have worried.  The enormously popular shows have consistently sold out, with folks begging for tickets.
The last of the 2013 series this Saturday night is no exception. Master guitarist Jim Hurst will play to a full house where some in the audience won't know who he is.
As Balsam Range founding member Darren Nicholson said, "Our goal has been to bring artists we love into our home--western North Carolina--that folks don't get to see often or maybe don't know about and introduce them to a new slice of the musical pie."
Musicians revere Hurst. Balsam Range's guitar virtuoso Caleb Smith said a few weeks ago that he has been looking forward to Saturday night's show since the season began. Vocalist, emcee and bass-playing band mate Surrett said, "...anybody who likes good guitar music will be blown away by this."
Nicholson is a Hurst fan. "We're all fans," he said.  "Jim Hurst is a monster musician and for us to be able to bring folks like this to this series in Canton is very special."
Hurst and Balsam Range met in the Yukon at a music festival and Nicholson knew right away Hurst would be a good fit for the Winter Concert Series.  "When I called him about playing our series,  I realized that he is as nice as he is talented," Nicholson said.
Hurst's eclectic style is a combination of flat picking inspired by Doc Watson and George Shuffler, and the finger style made famous by such icons as Chet Atkins and Jerry Reed. For years Hurst traveled with country artists Trisha Yearwood and Holly Dunn, but he's back in the bluegrass fold now. The April issue of Bluegrass Unlimited magazine features an article on the former International Bluegrass Music Association's Guitarist of the Year. The magazine also tapped Balsam Range's "Papertown" project as April's top album.
Folks lucky enough to have tickets for Saturday night are in for a real treat and they'll be able to contribute to a good cause while they're there.
"Please let folks know there'll be a table in the lobby for Relay for Life," said Surrett Monday.
Waynesville State Farm agent Chad McMahon and his office team which includes Surrett's wife Hope will be manning the contribution table at the Colonial. Relay for Life is the main volunteer-driven cancer fundraising event of the American Cancer Society and Canton's Relay is scheduled for May 17 at the Canton Recreation Park.  For Relay information, call 828/254-6931.
As for the future of the Balsam Range Winter Concert Series, founding member and Grammy-award-winning banjo player Marc Pruett said earlier this year that they would probably continue.  "We'll try to do them as long as folks want us to," he said.