Located in Southwestern North Carolina is Jackson County. The musical roots of Jackson County run deep into the wellspring of traditional Appalachian music. The musical styles are mixed fairly evenly between old time, bluegrass, and gospel. Like its neighboring Haywood County, many of the styles here are mixed, producing the bluegrass gospel sound and many other musicians that play across genres. One of the most famous early musicians in Jackson County was Samantha Biddix Bumgarner who, in 1924, was the first woman to record “hillbilly” music. Her accompanist on the recording was Eva Smathers Davis of Sylva, NC. Samantha’s father, Has Biddix, was also a fiddler of some reknown. Today, there are still many musicians of high caliber in Jackson County like the notable Queen Family, The Fiddlin’ Dills Sisters, Darren Nicholson (award winning mandolin player with Balsam Range), Rye Holler Boys and the up and coming bluegrass/gospel band Mountain Faith.
Betty Brown – guitar and singing
Cory Piatt – mandolin
John Duncan – string band
Brady Powell – string band
Alma Russ – fiddle
Jackson County JAM is held at Cullowhee Valley School for kids in grades 3 – 12 once per week on Tuesday afternoons from 3:15-5:00 p.m., and is made possible through the Jackson County Arts Council. Classes are offered in guitar, mandolin, banjo and fiddle, as well as string band. The program also features group community time each week. Jackson County JAM also has visiting performer presentations and performance opportunities such as the Heritage Alive Mountain Youth Talent Contests and the 4-H Entertains program. Supplemental instruction is available for intermediate level students. The students perform throughout the community during the year, and includes scheduled performances at Western Carolina University’s Bardo Center and Mountain Heritage Day, as well as the Full Spectrum Farm, Jackson County Public Library, the Green Energy Park, and semester end performances for parents.
Shawn Crowe, Joe Deitz, Amy Ammons, Becky Hester (Chair), Grace Morris, Betty Brown, Peter Koch, and Claire Collins. Also Ronald Davia, Jay Hinton, and Channa DeSilva, and Mairi Padgett in various capacities.
For more information, please contact:
Jackson County JAM
Betty Brown, Program Director