Join us for an Appalachian Music, Dance, & Storytelling Weekend with Mack Samples

Mack Samples and Lou Maiuri sitting in the Star Band Hall

The John C. Campbell Folk School and Olive’s Porch, a new Folk School experience in downtown Murphy, is thrilled to bring award-winning musician, author, and dance caller Mack Samples to the area for an Appalachian Music, Dance, & Storytelling Weekend, happening August 25-27, 2022.

Offering a window into traditional mountain square dances, Appalachian storytelling, old-time fiddle tunes, and more, this weekend features a concert, community dance, old-time jam, and a day-long workshop open to beginners, budding pickers, and avid dancers alike. Full schedule of events is included below.

A native West Virginian, Mack Samples is well-known in Appalachian music and literature circles and has traveled the folk festival circuit for many years as a singer, guitarist, fiddler, and square dance caller. In 2003, Mack was presented with the Vandalia Award, West Virginia’s highest folklife honor, from the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture, and History. The Vandalia Award recognizes those who embody the spirit of the state’s heritage and have made lifetime contributions toward the preservation of traditional life and culture in the Mountain State.

This special weekend is hosted by Becky Hill, the current Artist in Residence at Olive’s Porch. The Artist in Residence program is a new grant-funded opportunity for early to mid-career artists to spend four months in the area focusing on their craft while working within and building community. Becky has been here since early June. In addition to working on new dances and tunes in her studio space at Olive’s Porch, she has performed at Murphy Art Walk, hosted flatfooting lessons at the Folk School, and taught several dance classes at the Penland Senior Center in downtown Murphy.

“Mack Samples is a true gem; a master musician, square dance caller, flatfooter, and storyteller,” says Becky Hill, Artist in Residence at Olive’s Porch. “Mack’s visit will offer the chance to share similarities and celebrate the differences between old-time mountain style dancing in West Virginia and North Carolina.”

Backing up Mack and Becky at the Friday night concert and Saturday night dance is Nobody’s Business. Nobody’s Business is a band from the Grayson Highlands region of southwest Virginia and neighboring western North Carolina. The band features a diverse and entertaining balance of hard driving fiddle and banjo tunes, mountain ballads, classic country two steps, old sacred songs, and square dance music. Nobody’s Business is led by mandolinist, guitarist, and vocalist Jackson Cunningham. The band features Stu Geisbert on bass, Corbin Hayslett on banjo, and Trevor McKenzie, Director of the Center for Appalachian Studies at Appalachian State University, on fiddle.

The weekend kicks off with a Old-Time Community Jam at the Crown Restaurant on Thursday evening and concludes with a Saturday Night Community Dance in Open House, near the Folk School Garden. Registration is required for the Saturday workshop, but not for the Thursday jam, Friday night concert, or Saturday night dance.

The activities listed below will be held rain or shine. Many of them take place outdoors in covered pavilions on the Folk School’s main campus. All are welcome. We hope to see you there! 

Register for the Workshop at Olive’s Porch

Join us Saturday, August 27 from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. for the Appalachian Music, Dance, & Storytelling Weekend, hosted by Olive’s Porch and our Artist in Residence Becky Hill. The day includes flatfooting lessons, a storytelling presentation, a deep dive into Glenville, WV Style square dancing, and more.

The workshop will be held at Open House, the covered pavilion by the Folk School Garden, and is open to adults and youth ages 12 and up. Registration is $40 per person. Sign up today!

Register Online

Schedule of Events



7:00 p.m. – Community Old Time Jam at the Crown Restaurant, sponsored by the Folk School. 135 Emily Lane, Brasstown NC. Open to the public.

Every Thursday, folks gather to play acoustic music outside the Crown Restaurant while enjoying a breathtaking view of Brasstown from the top of the hill. The focus is on Appalachian Old-Time melodies, with everyone playing together in unison. Beginners are encouraged to join in on the fun by playing along with simple chords or picking out the melody with help from others in the circle. The Folk School’s Music & Dance Coordinators facilitate a rotating cast of musicians to host the sessions; each week is different. Genres can range from Celtic harp and whistle to classic country and bluegrass, all in the same evening!


7:00 p.m. – Mack Samples & Nobody’s Business concert at Folk School’s Festival Barn.

Open to the public. $5-10 suggested donation per adult, but all are welcome regardless of contribution.

4590 Brasstown Road, Brasstown, NC 28902

Mack Samples was born and raised in Corton, West Virginia, a rural community near the Kanawha/Clay County lines. Since his retirement in 1999 Mack has enjoyed some success as a writer, authoring 9 books. Mack has always been involved in traditional music. His band, The Samples Brothers, has been active since 1978 and still performs on the festival circuit. He is a well-known traditional square dance caller. In 2003 Mack was presented with the Vandalia Award, the highest award for the preservation of traditional life in the Mountain State.


9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.: Appalachian Music, Dance, & Storytelling Weekend workshop hosted by Olive’s Porch. Workshop cost: $40. Will be held at Open House, the covered pavilion by the Folk School Garden. Register online at or call Olive’s Porch at 828-837-1885.

4:45 – 5:45 p.m.: Mack Samples gives a presentation on Old Time Music & Dance.
This program is grant-funded and open to the public at no charge. Will be held at Open House, the covered pavilion by the Folk School Garden.

Mack was an educator, so we can’t let him leave without his storied presentation of the roots of old-time music and dance. He’s given this presentation at Warren Wilson College, Augusta Heritage Center at Davis & Elkins College, among others.

7:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.: Community Dance in Open House, near the Folk School Garden. Nobody’s Business with Mack Samples calling dances. Open to the public. $5-10 donation suggested per adult, but all are welcome regardless of contribution.

Mack is a firecracker caller. He amps up the West Virginia State Folk Festival plywood dance floor every year on their town square, and we are thrilled to host a taste of that 72-year-old tradition here in WNC. All dances will be taught, and anyone can do it, but hold on tight! “16 hands roll that wheel, the more you dance the better you’ll feel.”

Samples is joined by Stu Geisbert on bass, Corbin Hayslett on banjo, Trevor McKenzie on fiddle, Jackson Cunningham on guitar.

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