Story of dramatic Whiteside Mountain rescue to be centerpiece of March MHC Liars Bench show.
Gary Carden of The Liars Bench, a two-year old program featuring authentic traditional Southern Appalachian storytelling, music, poetry, and drama, announced the first of the “Balsam Chronicles,” starting with the story of “Gus Baty, the man who jumped/fell off Whiteside Mountain” Thursday March 15 at 7:00 pm at WCUs Mountain Heritage Center to follow the successful February 16 and 23 Liars Bench performances of “Coy.” Free admission for all.
First in the series of “Balsam Chronicles,” a set of three Liars Bench programs in March, April and May, supported in part by a grant from the Grassroots Arts Program of the Jackson County Arts Council and the North Carolina Arts Council, this is the compelling story of the circumstances of Gus Baty jumping/falling off “Fool's Rock,” sliding sixty yards down the steep mountain side and coming to rest against a Laurel bush suspended on the very edge of Whiteside's cliff a thousand feet above the valley floor, and his rescue by his friend Charlie Wright.
In addition to Liars Bench regulars Gary Carden, host and storyteller; Lloyd Arneach, the Cherokee storyteller; Paul Iarussi, claw-hammer guitar specialist; William Ritter, vocalist and musician; Karen Barnes, musician and Eric Young (mandolin and guitar); the March 15 performance will also feature Haywood County native Joe Sam Queen with a square dance team and buck dancers.
Each of the three “Balsam Chronicles” shows will showcase the history and folklore of one of the counties in the Balsam range. The March 15 show will celebrate the history, music, and folklore of Cashiers Valley. Among the subjects to be presented March 15 are Gus Baty, the man who jumped/fell off Whiteside Mountain; Charlie Wright, the man who received the Carnegie medal for rescuing Baty; and Kidder Cole, the most beautiful woman in Cashiers Valley, who prompted Felix E. Alley to write a square dance tune that was played all over Western North Carolina.
During the past year, Carden has designed and directed a series of shows that dealt with Cherokee history and culture; religious music, Jack Tales, and myths and legends. After a show from last October was recently featured on the regional television program Life in the Carolinas, both the performers and the staff of the Liars Bench became convinced that the show should move toward becoming a significant voice in defining and preserving the region's culture. This decision was confirmed by the cover story publication in a WNC newspaper recently of Carden and his creation, The Liars Bench show.
Recently, The Liars Bench, in conjunction with the Mountain Heritage Center, developed a grant proposal that was funded by the Jackson County Arts Council. “This grant will give us the resources to develop programs that deal with topics such as Dr. John R. Brinkley, the hanging of Jack Lambert, and the historical basis for the belief that Abraham Lincoln was born here. We plan to do this with storytelling, music, poetry and drama.” The story of Gus Baty and Charlie Wright is the first “Balsam Chronicles” effort. For additional information, call the Mountain Heritage Center at 828.227.7129.
The North Carolina Arts Council works to make North Carolina The Creative State where a robust arts industry produces a creative economy, vibrant communities, children prepared for the 21st century and lives filled with discovery and learning. The Arts Council accomplishes this in partnership with artists and arts organizations, other organizations that use the arts to make their communities stronger and North Carolinians-young and old-who enjoy and participate in the arts. The Arts Council is a division of the Department of Cultural Resources.
The Mountain Heritage Center at WCU: 828.227.7129