Stina's Picks

A point in the right direction
By Stina Sieg | Dec 30, 2012
Photo by: Courtesy photo Who wouldn't want to hang out with this guy? Todd Snider is playing The Orange Peel Saturday — the same night Balsam Range is playing the Colonial. Choices, choices.

What do you do in a place where everything is possible? Everything, I guess. That’s how it’s felt. For the last week, I’ve been back in San Francisco, and eating my way through sushi and dim sum, visiting gargantuan yarn stores and tiny coastal towns, and seeing people I haven’t in years. In six days, I’ve been to no less than three movies, and I’m still hungry for more. Despite the fact that I’m sleeping on my parents’ couch (my room has long since been repurposed), this feels like an honest-to-God vacation. How intoxicating and how needed.

And how funny it is that I’m raring to get back. With every breath of frosty, clear Northern California air, I feel western. But I kinda miss the place that’s taken me in so lovingly, even though I’m from so far afield. It only takes a little while of being faceless in the big city to remember why it’s sometimes comforting being entirely conspicuous in a small town. So, get me back. Get me to work. And get me to one of these events, below.

Biggest little concert in Canton
I don’t think anything says Haywood County to me more than the music of Balsam Range. Patently enjoyable, good-hearted and just plain good at what they do, the fellas of BR are the perfect ambassadors of Smoky Mountain-favored bluegrass. But don’t just take my unwavering opinion on it. If you’re lucky enough to have a ticket, you can hear the band for the first time (or the second or the 14th) at 7:30 p.m. this Saturday, Jan. 5, at Canton’s Colonial Theatre. John Driskell Hopkins, Zac Brown’s bass player and featured vocalist, will be there, too, meaning this edition of the Winter Concert Series sold out early. Want to make sure you don’t miss it next month? Visit or call to 235-2762. BR’s series continues through April.

Ski by moonlight
Certain activities are so juicy that they are completely unfettered by your ability to do them well or not. I think night skiing definitely makes the list. I’m not a good skier, but I get shivers (in a good way) thinking about a quiet, cold, depopulated mountain just waiting for me to haphazardly whoosh down it. Since Dec. 22, Cataloochee Ski Area has been offering skiing all the way to 10 p.m. most nights, and you better bet I’ll be making my way out there soon. Not only does night skiing sound like an almost meditative challenge, but it’s open later than nearly everything else in the county. For more info, visit or call 926-0285.

Swing with a twist
I am drop-dead honest about my lack of rhythm and dancing prowess, but that doesn’t mean you should be. If you’re good at dancing — or have just tricked yourself into believing it to be true — the Waynesville Rec Center has a vast array of classes to suit you, many of which are starting up right about now. Straight out of California, Country and Western Progressive Swing sounds like a dance for people who love to dance. Again, that is not me, but if it’s you, the fun starts Jan. 7, as taught by local dance maestros Sally and Herb Roach. To sign up or generally get more of an idea about the dance than a neophyte like me can provide, call the Roaches at 316-1412 or the rec center at 456-2030.

Not-so-holy ‘Hymns’
When you release an album called “Agnostic Hymns & Stoner Fables” you’re definitely going after a niche audience. Luckily for folky, funny, messy rocker Todd Snider, that audience probably lives in Asheville. Snider, who can be heard every now and again on WNCW, is playing in the Cesspool of Sin (well, actually The Orange Peel) at 8 p.m. Saturday. While I would never normally advocate heading out of town on a Balsam Range night, Mr. Snider is definitely a worthy replacement since the BR show is sadly full. But regardless of whether you plan to go to his show or not, I say check out his website,, which has everything from snippets of songs to self-deprecating photos, all with a general whiff of wisecrackery. For more info on the show, visit or call 225-5851.