Hopkins joins Balsam Range at Colonial Theater

By Mary Ann Enloe | Dec 31, 2013
Photo by: File photo John Driskell Hopkins is best known for playing with the Zac Brown Band. He will perform Jan. 4 at the Colonial Theater in Canton.

John Driskell Hopkins of the Zac Brown Band comes to Canton Saturday night Jan. 4 to the historic Colonial Theatre for his annual appearance with Haywood County's own IBMA Award winning bluegrass-and-more band Balsam Range.

Jan. 4 is the second of Balsam Range's 2014 Winter Concert Series. Hopkins was here last year about this time introducing his solo project "Daylight" which featured Balsam Range. The chart-topping Balsam Range has been on the same bill with the Zac Brown Band at its Southern Ground Music Festival in Charleston.

The Zac Brown Band plays to sell-out audiences all over the world. So how did their bass guitarist hook up with Haywood County's Balsam Range? "I was listening to Bluegrass Junction on Sirius/XM and heard Balsam Range's 'Blue Mountain'," said Hopkins. "I liked their sound, so I did what everybody does when they want to get in touch with people. I went online. Then I called Buddy."

Buddy is Balsam Range's crowd-pleasing fiddler Buddy Melton who sings the plaintive ballad, one of Balsam Range's most requested songs. "I knew that was the sound I wanted," said Hopkins. "I related to them musically, and I believed that if I met these guys, we'd be friends."

Balsam Range plays a set at each concert, and all the performers get together at the finish for a jam session. Buddy Melton, Darren Nicholson, Marc Pruett, Caleb Smith and Tim Surrett all live in Haywood County and are original members of the award-winning group.

Their album "Papertown" won the International Bluegrass Music Association's Album of the Year for 2013.  The title cut was written by Milan Miller, a Nashville songwriter who grew up in Waynesville and graduated from Tuscola High School. Tickets are $20 for Saturday night's show and can be purchased at the Colonial Theatre box office or by phone at 235-2760.

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