Heritage Center traditional music series to feature Haywood Ramblers

The 2017-18 First Thursday Old-Time and Bluegrass Series at Western Carolina University continues Thursday, Dec. 7, with a concert featuring the old-time band the Haywood Ramblers.

The group’s 7 p.m. performance in the ground-floor auditorium of H.F. Robinson Administration Building will be followed by an 8 p.m. jam session in which local musicians are invited to participate.

Led by two of Western North Carolina’s longtime traditional musicians, Cary Fridley and Travis Stuart, the Haywood Ramblers perform a mix of fiddle and banjo tunes, Baptist spirituals, traditional ballads, Carter family songs and regional compositions.

Raised in the mountains of Virginia, Fridley previously was a member of the critically acclaimed old-time band the Freight Hoppers. She has been performing in the region for more than two decades and is an adjunct member of the fine arts faculty at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College. Stuart began playing the banjo as a teenager in Haywood County and learned from old-time music masters such as Red Wilson, the Smathers Family and Snuffy Jenkins. For the past 13 years, he has led the Junior Appalachian Musicians Program in Haywood County and also has been an instructor in the bluegrass program at East Tennessee State University.

Sponsored by WCU’s Mountain Heritage Center, the First Thursday concerts and jam sessions will continue through next spring, with programs from 7 to 9 p.m. on the first Thursday of each month. The next event will feature Keith Shuler on Thursday, Feb. 1.

The concerts and jam sessions are free and open to the public. Pickers and singers of all ages and experience levels are invited to take part in the jam sessions, which also are open to those who just want to listen.

For more information, call the Mountain Heritage Center at 828-227-7129.