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Michael Gray
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Tonight at 8:00 pm on WUTC.Org or 88.1 FM locally The River City Sessions brings you Joy Jeffrey Hunter Caara Fritz Hunter Clotilde Evrard Ray Zimmerman Randy Steele in a celebration of our National Parks #Npca #NationalParks through #music #storytelling #poetry
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9/25/16
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upcoming line up August 14th
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Our Theme this month is ALL LOCAL. There is an amazing selection of talent in this area and we are drawing a broad swath beginning with:
The Tin Cup Rattlers, featuring Jeff Paulson and Marcy Paulson. A favorite on the local festival circuit they cover the old time and gospel genre with an original or two thrown in.
The Fancy Dandies come next and you never know what these guys are going to pull out of the hat. Buckeye Ridge Robert Cyphers and Joseph Ridolfo have a reputation for the traditional with a bend.
Last but certainly not least, The Peggy Douglas trio Tammy Lewis, Peggy Douglas and Delonda Marie Mangione has an amazing talent for taking a song and making it their own. Hard to categorize so let's call it Americana. Throw in a couple of poets and a story or two and you have a great evening of entertainment for only 5.00.

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Wilderness

                        I have traveled these roads since my childhood, the place names as ingrained as the words of a Dr. Seuss book: The Jump Off, Shining Rock, Devils Courthouse, Mount Pisgah, Cold Mountain, to name a few. Each one in succession revives memories from my youth, happy times, family times, of hours spent hiking nameless trails learning the name of each wild flower and tree, of evenings spent around a campfire listening to the stories of those who had once called this home. As a result, I had grown up with two homes; the one in which I lived and this one, this great expanse of wildness named the Pisgah National Forest.
            I spent my sixth birthday in these mountains as I spent many birthdays, in the company of my Grandparents and Great Uncle Albert , who might be more aptly named The Great Character. He had been a logger and a bear hunter, a moonshiner and a poacher; he had shared his meals with English Lords and camped with George Vanderbilt, the Commodore’s son. He was a product of the mountains and even in his eighties could walk me into the ground, his footfall soundless and smooth, disturbing nothing. We drove steadily up the mountain to Wagon Road Gap and to keep me busy on the way he pulled from his pocket a tin whistle and a cap pistol. He convinced me that there were bears I needed to lookout for and if I was just attentive I would see one.  All I had to do was blow the whistle when one was spotted he would discharge the cap pistol, scaring the bear away.
            Today, on a birthday many years later, I travel the Blue Ridge between Cherokee and Asheville, this stretch of the Parkway, a ribbon of black, winding across the crests of peaks, is a road that begs to be traveled alone. I pull over often, first in the early morning to watch the fog lift, burned off by the summer, sun revealing Graveyard Fields. Later I pull off the road to watch a raven spiraling ever upward as the warm air conceived in the valleys rises up the sides of rugged peaks. I lay on my back in the grass as it becomes a mere spec in the sky; a sky brushed with clouds that portend an evening storm which will light the sky with fireworks. Still again I stop to pick huckleberries growing along the road median, tasty treats for my trip.
            These are among the oldest mountains on earth eroded by millions of years of wind, ice, and snow; older than the Alps, Himalayans and the Rockies combined. Now covered by a majestic green panoply whose effect is to smooth the contour of the land underneath. The occasional rock out-cropping testifies to the ruggedness of these mountains. The Scotch-Irish who settled these valleys came here not only because the more level land was taken but also because it reminded them of home.  They were by nature a tough stock, if not; the mountains broke them, shaking them off like so many fleas.  They were farmers and lumbermen and storekeepers, gold seekers and preachers, and they came to settle and tame the land.
            The song of the inner valleys and ridges of the forest were the crash of the waterfalls in the tumbling creeks and rivers, the snort of the deer, excited by an unusual sound, the hiss of the slivering snake; the thump of falling acorns; the quarreling of the blue jays and squirrels as they vied for the tasty morsels; or the breaking of a branch as the bear climbed a tree; the splashing of the raccoon as he washed his face in the mountain stream; the speckled trout as they rose for flies and gnats.
My ancestors begrudgingly gave up their homes and farms in these wild places, so that we all could enjoy them. My Great Uncle Albert was one of the last; I’ve heard he walked the mountains homeless for weeks after they burnt his cabin. Sometimes I feel his prescience when I fish the streams just as I feel my Grandfather’s smile when my son asks the name of a tree or a flower. They left their mothers and fathers buried here. If you look close enough you can find the stones marking the Case Family Cemetery just a few hundred yards off North Mills River Road. I only know three other people who can still find it and before long all of us will soon be gone.
Some of this land is farmed for timber, but some is being set aside. I think it is fitting, the wildness taking back its own. In the great scale of things we were interlopers, merely a polluted spot on history’s timeline. Next month is the fiftieth anniversary of the Wilderness Act and we are here to celebrate these places, to honor the fact that we can’t design any greater, or create any purer.
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