Sam Bush and Missy Raines and Nations of Unity take to Clayton Center stage

Blue Grass music and Native American culture take center stage at the Clayton Center for the Arts.

On Saturday, Oct. 30, Nationals of Unity, a local Native American organization, presents an evening of extraordinary Native American entertainment featuring Arvel Bird, an international, multi-award winning violinist/flutist/storyteller.

Loretta Howard of Maryville is helping organize the event and said Arvel is a mesmerizing storyteller as he shares tales of Native American spirituality in order to give vision to his haunting music. He speaks of Native American wisdom, the sacredness of Mother Earth, and the sacred totems of the animals with whom we share this planet.

In addition, the Nation of Change dance team resides in the East Tennessee area and is of the Navajo and Cherokee Nations. These dancers will share native culture and tradition by demonstrating unique dance styles that explode with brilliance through their dance moves, Howard said.

The Nation of Change dance team has performed with the Johnson City Symphony Orchestra as well as in Europe, Switzerland and the United States.

Two high energy drum groups will be joining the presentation and they are not to be missed, Southern Echo from Crossville, Tennessee and Southern Sky from Nashville, Tennessee and Huntsville, Alabama, Howard said.

Howard said Nations of Unity grew out of a Native American Pow Wow committee composed of different Native American bloodlines in the community. The bloodlines represented include Cherokee, Aldonquin, Lacota, and Tuscarora and other native Americans. “Our sole purpose is to work together for the good of all by bringing awareness and understanding of Native American culture by establishing friendships and sharing education about Native American culture in our community,” she said.

The Nations of Unity event set for 7 p.m. on Oct 30 at the Clayton Center for the Arts in the Ronald and Lynda Nutt Theater is a fundraiser for bringing a Native American competition Pow Wow and Indian festival to Blount County in 2011.

Howard said there is going to be world championship hoop dancer, Daniel Tramper, and he is from the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation. “Then we have women’s traditional buckskin dancers who are going to be there, including myself,” she said. “Then we have Linda Beal who is another women’s traditional dancer and then Gail Brooks, who is of the Cherokee heritage and is one of the traditional buckskin dancers from Dandridge.”

The Nations of Unity Pow Wow Committee is composed of Howard, who is coordinator, Dana Sappier, and Rebecca Adams, Mike Adams, Wanda deWaard, Judy Watson-Knight, Pamela McLemore and Reba and Ronnie Johnson and June Roberts.

Admission for the event is $25 adults and $12 for children with proceeds going for Native American festival for Blount County.

Sam Bush and Missy Raines set for Clayton Center

Bluegrass legendary great Sam Bush will perform at 8 p.m. on Nov. 5, Clayton Center for the Arts executive director Robert Hutchens said.

“An award-winning master of banjo, fiddle and mandolin, Bush has shared the stage with such luminaries as Lyle Lovett and Garth Brooks,” Hutchens said. “He is joined by another pioneer in bluegrass, Missy Raines, a bassist who has achieved acclaim in the world of bluegrass.”

Raines has formed a band, Missy Raines and the New Hip, to explore fusions of jazz, bluegrass, pop and funk forms.

“I think the obvious thing is that they are in the realm of Bluegrass and Americana. Last year we had the patriarch of Bluegrass when Dr. Ralph Stanley performed. He is considered the grand old man of Bluegrass,” Hutchens said. “We had him early on in the season to make that point that the Clayton Center was going to be diverse,” he said. “It seemed like a message we wanted to continue carry through into this season that this center is for everybody in our region.”

Hutchens said that while Stanley is the embodiment of traditional bluegrass, with Sam Bush and Missy Raines you have this New Bluegrass called “New Grass,” and many are saying Sam Bush is a leader in the “New Grass” movement.

“The bluegrass is still there but what Sam Bush has done is go in a new direction. He’s not left his roots behind, but rather he has extended it in new direction that some call ‘New Grass, so that his music ventures away from pure Bluegrass even though much of what he does is recognizable to Bluegrass,” Hutchens said.

The center director said audience members will be in for a treat when Missy Raines takes the stage as well. “She is the most decorated bass player in history of international bluegrass Association,” he said.

Hutchens said the Nations of Unity and Sam Bush/Missy Raines shows proved the Clayton Center for the Arts is committed to diversity and inclusiveness of all kinds of art. “We recognize that art comes from the people and is for everybody and everyone’s notion of art has a place here,” he said.

For ticket information, contact Clayton Center for the Arts at 865-981-8590 or Tickets Unlimited at 865-656-4444.

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