If you’re looking to kick off your July Fourth weekend a day early, consider stopping by Nelia Hyatt‘s music house Thursday evening. Officially known as Mrs. Hyatt’s Oprahouse, the building is on Brevard Road, not far from the WNC Farmer’s Market. Just look for the “Keep on the Sunnyside” sign and the cars parked along the road.
Hyatt, the matriarch who presides over the weekly bluegrass jam session, recently celebrated her 91st birthday. You’ll find her sitting in a chair or on a stool, tapping her foot along with the music. Hyatt and her husband, Wayne, started inviting friends over to play music in the 1950s. The gatherings got so popular that the Hyatts built the little structure behind their home and started hosting public jams in the mid-1970s. Wayne died in 1984, but Nelia has kept the weekly gatherings going.
Any given week, you’re likely to run into a number of regulars, some new players, a few cloggers and the occasional international visitor. There’s pound cake and coffee on a table along one wall for a hungry body, with donations much-appreciated. Guitar, banjo and mandolin cases line another wall.
Click here to read last week’s Mountain Xpress story, and click on the image at right to view an audio slideshow that will give you an inside look.
— Jason Sandford, multimedia editor