Green Acres Music Hall, Part Two

Do you remember the 1980s? The Cold War, Reagan, big hair, synthesizers, yuppies, AIDS, MTV? It can be easy to point and laugh at times, maybe easier than it is to remember the good things about the era. It did not make national headlines, but one of those good things was Green Acres Music Hall, which came of age in that decade. 

In our first episode, we touched on some of the history of the music scene in the region and how rough things could get in the 70s, with biker gangs taking over outdoor festivals and rock clubs, and in this episode we get to some more of the history of the live music business in the 80s and early 90s. You know, the days when you didn’t buy tickets online, but at a window after you waited in line. When being social was always in person rather than often on a network. This was the heyday of Green Acres Music Hall.

Victor Wooten, Steve Metcalf, Roy "Futureman" Wooten, Vicki Dameron and Bela Fleck in the early 1990s

Victor Wooten, Steve Metcalf, Roy "Futureman" Wooten, Vicki Dameron and Bela Fleck in the early 1990s

This episode features conversations with artists like Bela Fleck, John Cowan, Darin Aldridge, the band Acoustic Syndicate, Sandy Carlton, Ashley Capps of AC Entertainment, Green Acres regular and frequent emcee Vicki Dameron, Carol Rifkin, former club owner Phil Dennis and Mettie, the “Little King”, Steve Metcalf. We’ll also feature more live music recorded at the Acres, as we have been able to dive into more tapes from Steve Metcalf’s collection, and live shows from archive.org.

Plus, we travel to a place in neighboring Cleveland County called Brackett Cedar Park, which also brought in artists that were fusing bluegrass and country with rock elements, and is still going.

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Thanks to our supporters, and to Osiris Podcasts and Bluegrass Planet Radio for carrying our series, and to Dynamite Roasting for sharing their coffee with our listeners.

 

 

 

Try Rhyming "Orange"

I'll admit, I got nothing. We all have access to the same words, but very few of us can write a really good song. This is what lifelong musician Sandy Carlton told me in the course of our interview about his experiences at Green Acres Music Hall and beyond, as I captured more voices for our upcoming podcast on the venue. Sandy is from nearby Shelby, NC, and he revealed some interesting history of other venues there that I was not familiar with, like Brackett Cedar Park, the Ponderosa and the Bluegrass Inn. It seems there was more going on back in the day than I had originally thought!

Sandy Carlton at his home in Cleveland County, North Carolina

Sandy Carlton at his home in Cleveland County, North Carolina

After our first episode on Green Acres released, I have been fortunate to come across people like Sandy who have revealed more of the history of that venue, the surrounding region, and the era. Sandy will be featured in our next installment later this month, which will draw more from of my interviews with Bela Fleck, John Cowan, Acoustic Syndicate, and Darin Aldridge among many others. There will be plenty of music from shows at the Acres too, and observations about what it was like to be a player and a participant in the live music scene decades ago. In very many ways, the old saying holds true: "the more things change, the more they stay the same". Most artists are still playing music because they love it, not because they can get rich (and very few are getting rich). A good song is still more important than flashy technique. Music still moves people in profound ways. But thirty years ago, a lot about music was very different, sometimes a lot better, and that is some of what we will reveal in this upcoming podcast.

The late great Vassar Clements (L) with Larry Keel (middle) and "Little King" Steve Metcalf (R) at Green Acres Music Hall

The late great Vassar Clements (L) with Larry Keel (middle) and "Little King" Steve Metcalf (R) at Green Acres Music Hall

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Green Acres Music Hall, Part One

It all started with a cinder block building that was also an auction house, on farmland in the foothills of western North Carolina. The bathroom had a toilet but no sink. There was no phone, and it was heated by a large wood stove. The owner had a band, and brought in others that played there often as well, starting around the mid 1970s. It went on to add an outdoor stage, amenities, and thousands of fans. It became a key stop for bluegrass, "newgrass" and roots music artists of all kinds. Even the likes of Garth Brooks and Merle Haggard came calling to play there. 

Flyer for Green Acres from late summer and fall of 1995, including a handy map. Think you could navigate your way there? Our episode includes a song from the Flecktones' set with Sam Bush, listed here. Photo courtesy of Vicki Dameron.

Flyer for Green Acres from late summer and fall of 1995, including a handy map. Think you could navigate your way there? Our episode includes a song from the Flecktones' set with Sam Bush, listed here. Photo courtesy of Vicki Dameron.

This is part one of our series on Green Acres Music Hall, with interviews from artists like Bela Fleck, John Cowan, Carol Rifkin and the band Acoustic Syndicate, along with the man who helped take it from its humble beginnings to its peak, Steve Metcalf. Joining them are some of the folks who frequented the venue, myself included. Of course, the music itself is here too, with audio from shows by Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, the John Cowan Band and others.

We hope you enjoy the show! Please help spread awareness about this independent endeavor, subscribe, and comment on this and other episodes, especially on platforms like iTunes. Becoming a supporter is easy to do, by clicking on the "Tip Jar" button on our site's front page, or by chipping in monthly on our Patreon page, which offers a lot of great bonus material. Thanks for listening, and thanks to our supporters, our sponsor Dynamite Roasting, and to Osiris Podcasts and Bluegrass Planet Radio for carrying our series.