The Daily Tar Heel

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Tuesday October 4th

Music on the Porch showcases Our State magazine contest winners

While the likes of James Taylor and Doc Watson have already sung Carolina’s praises, Our State magazine is celebrating the newest batch of Carolina crooners.

A competition held by Our State to find and endorse North Carolina musicians who write songs dedicated to the state culminates today with a “Music on the Porch” event hosted by UNC’s Center for the Study of the American South.


Time: 5:30 p.m. today
Location: The Love House & Hutchins Forum, Center for the Study of the American South

Both Aaron Burdett, the winner of the competition, and Tom Fisch, a runner-up, will perform at the event.

Andy Busam, digital coordinator for Our State who spearheaded the competition, said the idea for the contest was conceived during a brainstorming meeting.

“We have so many talented people in North Carolina, and the mission behind Our State is to showcase the state,” he said. “We wondered if we asked people to write a song about North Carolina and why they love living here if anyone would do it.”

Busam said the competition received almost 250 entries, which significantly surpassed his expectation.

He said he’s sure the magazine will cycle back to the contest in the future.

“There’s so much negative music out there and music that tends to focus on sad and gloomy things,” he said. “This is a good opportunity for creative folks in our state to turn their talents to something good and to put a spotlight on their community and their music.”

Bland Simpson, a professor at UNC and a member of the Red Clay Ramblers, a string band, has been asked to introduce the winner and the runner-up at the “Music on the Porch” event.

Simpson said the event is important because music is one of the primary lively arts, meaning it is always evolving.

He said the events at the Center for the Study of the American South are usually informal because people sit on the lawn or on the porch.

“In pre-radio days, this is exactly the way lots and lots of people would have heard lots and lots of music,” he said.

Fisch, who hails from upstate New York, said he first started coming to North Carolina in the 1980s when he met his wife.

“Her family had a place on Lake Lure, and we could come down to visit,” he said. “I was exposed to this beautiful place in the mountains of Carolina, and I fell in love with it from my first visit.”

Fisch said he and his wife moved to North Carolina in 2004 and that his song just came about one day when he was sitting outside.

“It was a beautiful, beautiful day,” he said. “I felt like I didn’t want to be anywhere other than where I was right there underneath that beautiful Carolina blue sky.”

Burdett said there’s a special element to songs that mention a place — especially when that place holds connotations for people.

He said a sense of nostalgia accompanies those songs, even for people who are not familiar with the area.

“I was in Ireland playing in a pub I had never been in. I know nobody in that pub knew my song, but I’m playing it, and there’s 30 or 40 Irishmen singing the chorus with me,” he said. “It was catchy enough and easy enough to pick up on the first time that they could sing it.”

Fisch said he loves North Carolina because it is a beautiful state from one end to the other. Though he’s lived in other states, he said North Carolina is his home.

“New York has its own beauty and Tennessee is a beautiful state — but there’s just something about North Carolina,” he said.

“It’s my favorite place to be.”

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