For example, Smith said she will read from her novel about the Appalachian Mountains, "Oral History," and Circle musicians will follow with some traditional mountain carols.
“We’re just such fans," Smith said. "It’s great for us ‘cause we got the best seats in the house."
Originally, the Circle only did one show every year. The group was started by Danny Gotham, a local musician, and was inspired by the 1972 Nitty Gritty Dirt Band album “Will the Circle be Unbroken.”
Gotham said the album was a seminal one for him as a musician. He said it introduced a lot of his generation to traditional country music.
“Here was this contemporary band bringing this old time music with a new perspective, musically, on it,” Newton said. “It was a very big deal.”
Gotham said the Circle exclusively played songs from the album at their first show, but soon branched out to other music and some original compositions by members.
Gotham hopes these Circle shows can do for young people what “Will the Circle be Unbroken” did in the 1970s.
“I would hope that there’s people out there, especially young people, that might hear us do a song by someone like Doc Watson or Maybelle Carter and they might decide to explore traditional American country and bluegrass music because they heard us perform a song or two in that style,” Gotham said.
It was Newton and another Circle regular, LaNelle Davis, who suggested doing a holiday version of the show.
Newton said the show will last a couple of hours and will be relaxed and loose. There will be 19 people onstage, and anyone who wants to play a song can go to the front of the stage and get it started. She said there is a lot of interaction between the performers and the audience.
“The sense of community of the people who come is pretty amazing,” Newton said.
Smith said she urges people to come to the show. She said she thinks it is very meaningful for the community because it commemorates the history and people of Chapel Hill and Orange County.
“It’s just — it’s so North Carolina,” Smith said.