The Sam Love Queen Auditorium at Folkmoot!

The Same Love Queen Auditorium at Folkmoot!

It was a stellar night of music March 19 as Folkmoot formally recognized its renovated performance venue in the historic Hazelwood School as The Sam Love Queen Auditorium at Folkmoot!

Sam Love Queen was among the most famous and most beloved figures in Haywood County history, known around the world as the premier mountain dance caller and ambassador of mountain culture and heritage. Known as, “Sam Love Queen, the square dance king – the dancin’-est man in the land,” Queen presided over the mainstay of Haywood County social events, the frequent dances at Moody Farm in Maggie Valley beginning in the 1930s.

“You danced in the front yard, in the barn or in the middle of the parlor floor,” said Joe Sam Queen, a grandson of Sam Love and current civic leader and Haywood representative to the North Carolina General Assembly. “It was the genuine folk dance. It was a social institution of the day. It’s where you courted, socialized with your neighbors. It was an art form.”

Sara Queen Brown
Sara Queen Brown

Sam Love was also among those early supporters and organizers of the Folkmoot Festival of traditional folk dance and was immortalized in song by Buddy Melton, Milan Miller and Mark W. Winchester.

At the request of President Franklin Roosevelt, Sam Love took his Soco Gap Dance Team to Washington in 1939 to display the unique Haywood County style of dance and perform before King George VI and Queen Elizabeth of England.

Sara Queen Brown, daughter of Sam Love and herself a revered and venerable Haywood County figure, was part of that 1939 Soco Gap Dance Team and together with her nephew, Joe Sam, made possible the endowment for the restoration of the old Hazelwood School auditorium and its transformation into the Folkmoot performance venue, the Sam Love Queen Auditorium.

“Tonight we take the opportunity to honor a woman and a family who has made a contribution that will have a meaningful, positive impact on Haywood County,” explained Folkmoot Executive Director Angie Schwab at the March 19th event. “Over 90 years of positive influence from this person, Sara Queen Brown, and now she has insured at least 90 more years because she has contributed the money to improve this space in which you are sitting right now.

“Sara Queen Brown has been a teacher in Clyde, has directed Mountain Projects, has been on the board of the Haywood Community College and is the only surviving member of the Soco Gap Dance Team. Clogging is important here. Sara’s father, Sam Love Queen was very passionate about folk dance. He believed, and surely passed on to his children and grandchildren that when you holding hands, in one big circle, there is no reason to fight. Dance contributes to peace and harmony in the world. Sara Queen Brown and the Queen family have helped to define Haywood County and Waynesville as a folk dance hot spot, the center of Appalachian dance in the US. What better way to recognize the Queen family than to dedicate this space as the Queen Auditorium in the name of her father, Sam Love Queen.

“The programs in the space, from here on out will be in his name.”

Folkmoot’s founding director, Jackie Bolden, introduced Sara and Joe Sam to the crowd and here is a video of her presentation and remarks from Joe Sam Queen and Sara Queen Brown:

And with the Queen Family gift the circle will remain unbroken: (video by Patrick Parton)

Other performances from March 19…

The Darren Nicholson Band:

Whitewater Bluegrass Company with special guest, Dr. Marc Pruett:

The Folkmoot community mourns Trevor Stuart

Folkmoot community mourns Trevor Stuart

The Folkmoot community mourns Trevor Stuart, who along with brother Travis formed the legendary Stuart Brothers duo and became among the most beloved musical acts in our rich musical region.

Stuart, 47, died March 2. He will be greatly missed.

Among other tributes, the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area honored Trevor’s memory by posting about the brothers’ musical heritage:

“Travis plays their great-uncle Austin Stamey’s banjo and Trevor wrote a fiddle tune, on their latest album, in honor of their fiddling great-grandfather, Rev. Henry King,” posted BRNHA.

“Trevor writes, ‘I named this reel after our great-grandfather Henry King, born 1856, who was a fiddler, Methodist preacher, mortician, and a barber, among other things I’m sure. My Grandmaw Myrtle King Stuart told me many stories about him: how he’d cut every dead man’s hair in Sandy Mush. The stories about him staying up all night and playing for dances inspired me to play fiddle. As soon as I had a few tunes I’d play for her and watch the excitement in her eyes.'”

Trevor Stuart
Trevor Stuart

“The Stuart Brothers are world renown for their masterful performances of Appalachian fiddle and banjo duets,” explains the Stuart Brothers’ website. “Trevor and Travis were born and raised in Bethel , a rural farming community in Haywood County, NC — an area of magical beauty where the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains meet and once the ancient Cherokee settlement of Sonoma. These majestic ranges surrounded the young brothers with the rich musical and cultural environment of Appalachian fiddle tunes, Baptist spirituals, banjo pickers, all night square dance shindigs and poetic tale weavers.

“The brothers learned some of the oldest regional fiddle and banjo styles from masters such as the Smathers Family, Byard Ray, Oscar “Red” Wilson, Gordon Freeman, and the Sutton family. They formed their first band in junior high and played for local clogging teams, local functions and fiddlers conventions. Since then they have toured extensively throughout the US and several foreign countries, teaching and performing at major festivals and music camps.

“Close to home with Travis on banjo and Trevor the fiddle, the Stuart Brothers teach the younger generation in their community. For over a decade they have led the Haywood County JAM (Junior Appalachian Musicians) an after-school program funded by the National Endowment for the Arts.

“Both Travis and Trevor are multi-instrumentalists. Together and separately they have performed at some of the world’s most prestigious stages: London’s Albert Hall, Dublin’s Vicar Street, Levon Helm’s Midnight Ramble, and New York City’s Beacon Theater.

“Having performed together for 30 years Travis and Trevor have also toured and recorded with step dancer Ira Bernstein, songwriter Martha Scanlan, Jim and Jennie and the Pine Tops, Dirk Powell Band, Rayna Gellert, Foghorn Stringband, Riley Baugus, and many more.

“The Stuart brothers have two recordings : Pretty Little Widow, (Yodel-Ay-Hee), and Mountaineer (Old 97 Wrecords) and have appeared on numerous recording with a range of many diverse artist from NC Folk Heritage award winner Red Wilson to most recently New York City’s roots rock outfit Ollabelle.”

The brothers played for Folkmoot audiences, too. Here’s a video of a 2014 performance with the J. Creek Cloggers:

Bluegrass & BBQ bonanza in March

Bluegrass & BBQ bonanza in March!

It’ll be a bluegrass & BBQ bonanza in March at Folkmoot when some of the region’s top musical stars combine with some of the region’s best eats for an early spring celebration in the mountains! The evening of music, food and family fun is set for March 19 at the Folkmoot Friendship Center and will … Read more