ASHEVILLE, NC — The mountains of western North Carolina are remarkable for their rugged beauty and for producing some of the world’s best bluegrass music, including that of the Grammy-award-winning Steep Canyon Rangers. Their music emerges as a natural expression of deep feeling without sounding contrived or forced, and they are using their exceptional gift for good. Early this spring on a blustery, cold day they rolled up the mountain to Graveyard Fields on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The band’s mandolin player, Mike Guggino, had written the instrumental “Graveyard Fields” for their latest album,Tell The Ones I Love, and they gathered here in a collaborative effort with Bonesteel Films to benefit the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, whose mission is to safeguard the future of the Blue Ridge Parkway. (Watch the Steep Canyon Rangers video here.)
Bonnesteel is a master at capturing people’s stories; after seeing the film it is clear that Graveyard Fields is not only a place that inspired the band’s songwriting, but is also a place that continues to inspire their lives. Graham Sharp says, “It’s a place we all know and have a connection with. For me, music and mountains are intertwined.” Guitarist Woody Platt grew up in Brevard, NC, and reflects, “the Blue Ridge Parkway, especially Graveyard Fields, has always been a part of my life. It is a place of happy memories of family and fishing. I want to do what I can to protect it. I was lucky to grow up here.”
Paul Bonesteel, recognized as a provocative documentary filmmaker, also has a longtime relationship with the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation, contributing his time and considerable talent to protecting the beauty and character of the Blue Ridge Parkway. While this collaboration primarily focuses on improvements at Graveyard Fields, it is hoped it will also inspire others to engage with the Foundation’s widespread efforts to protect the Blue Ridge Parkway. “It’s kind of funny, just like the guys in Steep Canyon Rangers, I’ve been going up to Graveyard Fields since I was a kid, because it’s really easy to love that place. There is something very special about it, which makes it a perfect place to share with people who have never been there. It has needed a bathroom and more parking for a long time, and I’m glad it’s finally getting some attention. I’ve been involved with the Parkway Foundation for more than ten years because the Foundation really does what they say they’re supposed to do; preserve the past, enhance the present and safeguard the future of the Parkway.”
The Foundation will release the video online June 10 in a final push to accelerate fundraising for completion of the Graveyard Fields project. “We still need to raise about $50,000 to complete this $360,000 project,” says Carolyn Ward, CEO of the Foundation. “This is one of the best loved spots on the Parkway and we hope those who enjoy this remarkable place will take notice and step forward to help fund the work that will protect Graveyard Fields’ fragile environment while making it more visitor friendly.” The project, scheduled for completion before July 4, includes construction of a much needed restroom, significant trail improvements, and expansion of the parking lot
To learn more about how you can help this project, visit www.brpfoundation.org/GraveyardFields.
Quite sad that it takes outside funding to preserve sites off the Blue Ridge Parkway. I suppose our priorities now lay elsewhere. Maybe if there were a fusion food truck in the parking lot?
As far as we know, has anyone written a song about Skinnydip Falls, or is that subject still open? As I didn’t see Steve Martin in the picture, is he up to the challenge (fingers crossed)?
Weak Canyon Strangers? 🙂