By Julie Matthews
The music scene in North Carolina’s High Country is hot all year long, even when the temperatures outside are at their lowest. The hills remain alive and rockin’ with live music and performances in even its most remote areas.
The High Country’s musical heritage dates back to its early history with its old-time Appalachian-style music with sounds of fiddles and banjos, and the area’s appreciation for music has a strong presence in its culture today. On any given day music can be heard playing all over with live musical performances a regular occurrence not only on stages around town but also in restaurants, parks, gardens, campsites, front porches and even general stores. From traditional mountain music and bluegrass to ballads, blues, country and every other musical genre, you will hear it all in North Carolina’s High Country.
Throughout the year the High Country celebrates music and the performing arts with a number of concert series—often held in gardens and parks where folks bring their families and set up their lawn chairs—featuring regional performers and bands. It also hosts many large-scale music festivals and theatrical shows. Here are some highlights of what’s happening in the High Country in 2022.
Music Festivals and Concert Series
Music festivals are a major source of entertainment for locals and visitors in the High Country. Some upcoming festivals to consider include:
High Country Jazz Festival, June 9 through 12, offers first-rate jazz to audiences in Boone and Blowing Rock. The Appalachian Theatre in Boone will host the headline events with several other venues also holding performances. HighCountryJazzFestival.com
Doc & Rosa Lee Watson MusicFest ‘n Sugar Grove is a long-running event showcasing musicians from all over the nation. The event will be held on July 16 on the grounds of the Historic Cove Creek School in Sugar Grove in honor of Grammy award-winning musician Doc Watson. DocWatsonMusicFest.org
The High Country also has several concert series that run regularly. Check out Music in the Valle (ValleCrucisPark.org/Music-in-the-Valle/), Music on the Lawn at The Inn at Ragged Gardens (Ragged-Gardens.com/Music-on-the-Lawn/) and Blowing Rock Concerts in the Park (BlowingRock.com/Concert-in-the-Park/).
Broadway Meets the Mountains
A variety of high-quality musical theatre performances are held in venues throughout the High Country’s communities.
Local colleges Lees-McRae College and Appalachian State University both offer entertaining student theatre. For more than three decades, Lees-McRae Summer Theatre has been providing performances on their Banner Elk campus. This summer it will present two Tony-winning musicals, including The Drowsy Chaperone, from June 26 through July 3, and Roald Dahl’s Matilda: The Musical, from July 21 through 27. The performances will be held on the Lees-McRae College campus in the Broyhill Theatre. Imc.Edu/SummerTheatre
An Appalachian Summer Festival is held annually across the campus of Appalachian State University in Boone in both indoor and outdoor venues, and provides audiences top-notch artistic programming including music, theatre, dance and much more. This year’s festival will run from July 1 through July 30. AppSummer.org
Ensemble Stage, a 99-seat Professional Theater in Banner Elk, gives High Country residents and visitors a diverse selection of high-quality live theatrical presentations at affordable prices throughout the year. EnsembleStage.com
Located in Boone, Horn in the West presents the nation’s oldest Revolutionary War dramas in a beautiful outdoor theatre. Celebrating its 70th season, it is a unique performing arts experience for audiences. The season will run July 1 through August 13. HornInTheWest.com
No matter what your musical taste, the High Country has something for everybody. With an eclectic mix of music and a wide variety of theatrical performances, no doubt you will be entertained!
All dates and times are subject to change. Please call ahead or check online before attending.