Musician’s Showcase Set for Feb. 1

‘Caldwell Traditions Old and New’ the 22nd gathering of traditional musicians

LENOIR, N.C. — It’s that time again. The 22nd Annual Caldwell Traditional Musician’s Showcase is scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 1 at 7:30 p.m. This year’s title and theme is “Caldwell Traditions Old and New.” Musical acts scheduled to appear are listed below. As it has been every year, it is hosted by Strictly Clean and Decent.

It will be held at the J.E. Broyhill Civic Center. In addition, patrons can enjoy a buffet style meal of oven roasted pork loin or North Carolina trout. The meal starts at 5:30. Prices and contact information for the Civic Center are below. 

Kay and Patrick Crouch

Kay and Patrick Crouch of the trio say that the Showcase is designed to highlight the achievements of local musicians who keep the community’s rich history of traditional music alive. It is also intended to increase awareness of live music as an important cultural resource.

Lifelong musicians and retired teachers (Patrick from Granite Falls Middle School and Kay from Caldwell Community College), both are enthusiastic about this year’s show. Relating his sense of what to expect this year based on his many conversations with the musicians, Patrick said, “I feel a sense of camaraderie. They all have the same smile, the same spark. It’s exciting and humbling.”

He acknowledged, “It’s been a good opportunity to expand our definition of traditional. I’m really looking forward to it. I sense the spirit of the show — togetherness.”

Kay shared, “We’re asked if we’re going to run out of musicians. The opposite is true. The number is just growing.” Indeed, the number is well over 200 now. She shared the county’s reputation of having countless musicians who have learned by the oral tradition as a reason. “People are still learning from one another.” Noting that this includes learning from neighbors and other regional musicians — and always has — she added, “Now they can learn from You Tube. Even then, they’re learning it from the oral tradition.” Kay and Patrick, however, continue to help local musicians connect with one another.

The Showcase reflects that, said Patrick. “The purpose is to make people aware of all of our musicians and instill pride in  the musicians of Caldwell County. They play at a sophisticated level. We tend to foster traditional musicians.”

Kay recalled how she first started playing in 1979. “I just picked a little.” She and Patrick continued to pick and formed their first band, Long Time Gone, which will have an on-stage reunion this year. 

Thinking about the first year they held the Showcase, Kay recalled, “We were still in that mode of back porch playing. It was an innovation to put them on stage. We tend to think that musicians are in other places. But they are here.”

Patrick added, “We just want to shine a light on them.”

Below is information from Patrick on those enjoying the spotlight this year:

The Showcase will feature Strictly Clean and Decent along with Alan Darveaux and Slight Departure, Will Willis and the Older Brothers, Reath Jackson, The Benson, and The Classics Trio. Our emcee is Mark Bumgarner.

Strictly Clean and Decent is an acoustic trio steeped in American roots music. Patrick Crouch plays guitar, banjo, mandolin, fiddle, dobro, and vocals; Kay Crouch plays guitar, piano, percussion, flute, whistles and vocals. Tom Kuhn will be filling in for Ron Shuffler on bass and vocals.

Slight Departure may well be the only band in the country featuring the Appalachian dulcimer as lead instrument, played by co-founder and dulcimer builder Alan Darveaux.  The band made their debut performance in 1995 opening for Gillian Welch at COMMA in Morganton. They have played to audiences in nine states from Indiana to Florida, including Floydfest, the Mountain Dance and Folk Festival, and the Great American Dulcimer Convention. Co-founder Jeff Haslam plays mandolin, David Wiseman plays fiddle, Don Hogan plays guitar, and Joseph Hasty plays bass.

Reath Jackson is a fine country singer with classic country and modern influences. Reath sings the heart songs with expression beyond his years. He can also deliver the modern country hits that require soaring bluesy lines. His band will include Kevin Clement on lead guitar and vocals; Rob Cline on drums and vocals; and Randy Matheson on bass and vocals.

The Classic Trio performs chart topping music from many genres including rock, country, and popular music. They are versatile entertainers who can play dance music as well as in concert settings. The Classic Trio features Buck Smith on bass, drums and vocals; Mike Church on guitar and vocals; and Don Hogan on guitar and vocals.

The Older Brothers perform roots and rock influenced contemporary original music. They collaborate on compositions and arrangements to create music that defies categorization. The band consists of Will Willis on guitar and vocals; Simon Everett on bass and vocals; Kyle Teeters on drums and vocals; and Sabine Mader on saxophone.

The Benson

The Benson is a trio that performs rock and jazz influenced music. Their arrangements are intricate and well executed. The Benson hosts an open mic at Liquid Roots in Lenoir which has become a mecca for performing artists. The band is made up of AJ Herrick on guitar and vocals; Daniel Reece on drums; and Ryan Cavanaugh on bass.

Our emcee for Caldwell Traditions Old and New is Mark Bumgarner. Mark is well known for music in Caldwell County. He performed with local bands Long Time Gone, C & M Traveling Show, and Longrider. Mark is currently known as a singer/songwriter in the Asheville area. He appears regularly on Merlefest as well. In addition to emceeing the showcase, Mark will perform a Long Time Gone reunion segment with Kay Crouch on drums and vocals; Patrick Crouch on guitar and vocals; and Tom Kuhn on bass and vocals.

Caldwell Traditions Old and New will be a diverse musical program featuring the ever changing musical landscape of Caldwell County. 

We are honored to have students from the Caldwell County Junior Appalachian Musicians program performing a pre-show in the J. E. Broyhill Civic Center Atrium prior to the showcase.

Tickets for the showcase are $11 and student and child tickets are available at $5.50.   To purchase tickets, call the box office at 726-2407 or visit

© Michael M. Barrick, 2020.

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