Balsam Range, Wind Ensemble combining talents for concert

Members of the critically acclaimed bluegrass group Balsam Range are (from left) Marc Pruett, Buddy Melton, Tim Surrett, Darren Nicholson and Caleb Smith.

Western Carolina University’s Friends of the Arts organization is bringing together a nationally acclaimed bluegrass group from Haywood County and 50 of the best woodwind, brass and percussion student-musicians from WCU’s School of Music for an afternoon of genre-bending tunes.

The five members of Balsam Range will join with the WCU Wind Ensemble in the “friend-raising” concert at 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 24, at the John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center.

The Wind Ensemble, under the direction of Margaret Underwood, WCU’s director of bands, will collaborate with Balsam Range to perform many of group’s most popular songs including “Burnin’ Down Georgia,” “Blue Mountain” and “Last Train to Kitty Hawk.”

WCU Wind Ensemble

One of the most-awarded acts in the bluegrass field in recent years, Balsam Range has garnered 10 International Bluegrass Music Association awards and has produced six critically acclaimed albums. Members of the group are Buddy Melton (fiddle, lead and tenor vocals), Darren Nicholson (mandolin, octave mandolin, lead vocals, baritone and low tenor vocals), Marc Pruett (banjo), Tim Surrett (bass, dobro, baritone and lead vocals) and Caleb Smith (guitar, lead and baritone vocals). Melton, Pruett and Surrett are WCU alumni.

Members of the Friends of the Arts have an opportunity to purchase tickets at $10 each. The Friends group raises funds for WCU’s College of Fine and Performing Arts to enhance student experiences and engagement through initiatives to support scholarship opportunities, academic programming, and the presentation of world-class artists to the campus and community.

For more information or to become a member of the Friends of the Arts, visit or call 828-227-7028. Members can purchase tickets by visiting the Bardo Arts Center box office at 199 Centennial Drive in Cullowhee or by calling 828-227-2479. The box office is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m., Thursday from 10 a.m to 7 p.m., and one hour prior to the performance.

Tickets are available for non-FOA members at $25 for the general public and $20 for WCU faculty and staff at the box office or online at this website.