Tickets available beginning Sept. 2 for Balsam Range concert at arts center

Tickets go on sale Tuesday, Sept. 2, for a bluegrass concert featuring Western North Carolina’s own Balsam Range on stage at Western Carolina University’s Fine and Performing Arts Center.

The band of five Haywood County residents will get the music started in the arts center performance hall at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 26, to kick off WCU’s Mountain Heritage Weekend 2008.

Blending contemporary and traditional bluegrass, Balsam Range features Grammy Award-winning banjo player Marc Pruett, fiddler Buddy Melton, mandolinist Darren Nicholson, guitar player Caleb Smith and bass player Tim Surrett. Balsam Range recently has been listed on several of the leading national bluegrass charts, with its debut album, “Marching Home,” and several singles from the album listed in the top 10.

“This is an alert for all the bluegrass music fans in Western North Carolina,” said Scott Philyaw, chairman for WCU’s Mountain Heritage Weekend activities. “This will be the No. 1 bluegrass concert of the year, and tickets are just $10. We’ve got a great band that will be performing in the acoustically magnificent performance hall of WCU’s Fine and Performing Arts Center. The venue has about 1,000 seats, and we expect tickets to go fast.”

Besides the cushiony comfort and great acoustics provided by the performance hall, bluegrass fans who attend the concert can take satisfaction that proceeds from the concert, after expenses, will be used to fund activities at upcoming editions of Mountain Heritage Day, Philyaw said. The annual festival of mountain culture will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. the day after the concert, Saturday, Sept. 27, on the WCU campus in Cullowhee.

“Another exciting angle for bluegrass fans will be that the Sept. 26 concert will be recorded by students from WCU’s motion picture and television production program,” Philyaw said. The finished audio and video recordings won’t be sold to the public, but will be used by the band in its promotional efforts.

General admission tickets will be available for $10 each by calling the Fine and Performing Arts Center at (828) 227-2479 (Visa or MasterCard) or by visiting the box office between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Tickets also may be purchased online at http://fapac.wcu.edu.