Darren Nicholson helps out with disaster relief in North Carolina

We wrote on Monday about the disastrous flooding in middle Tennessee, and the efforts of locals, including bluegrass artist Daryl Mosley, to raise funds to assist those left homeless from substantial rainfall on August 21.

Another set of storms caused serious damage in western North Carolina as well, swamping the Blue Ridge mountain town of Canton, NC, just west of Asheville. There, the remnants of tropical storm Fred dropped 10 inches of rain on August 16, causing the Pigeon River to overflow its banks, cresting at nearly 18 feet above normal. Five people died in the flash flooding that followed in Haywood County, causing massive damage to bridges, homes, businesses, and other structures.

Canton is home to Darren Nicholson, mandolinist and vocalist with bluegrass band Balsam Range. While his home was spared, many in the region were not and he moved quickly to help the quickest way he could, hosting a fundraiser on Facebook and getting food, water, and other essentials right to those in greatest need. Those who know him realize that Darren is not just an exceptional musical artist, he is a big hearted friend to all, generous with his time and effort, and an example of all that is good in our music community.

His story, in his own words is below. Hat’s off to Nicolson for making good things happen in a tough time for neighbors and friends.

Flooding in Haywood County, NC following August 16 storms – photo WCNC television

 Our little town of Canton, North Carolina was completely devastated with severe flooding. People lost loved ones, their homes, farms, and businesses.

Myself and the other members of Balsam Range weren’t affected, but had close family and friends that were.

There’s such a sense of community here in western North Carolina, and unfortunately, we all forget that we’re on the same team until some kind of tragedy strikes, and that’s when you really see love, compassion, and people working together.

Honestly, I opened my social media pages the day after the severe flooding, and because so many of my social media friends are tied into the bluegrass world, I was a little overwhelmed with the number of posts I saw with people arguing about IBMA and their stance on vaccinations, etc. I was disheartened by the negativity on both sides. Especially when I know the bluegrass community for being such a loving family. It was just a lot of heavy stuff for me to wake up to the day after our town was completely ravaged.

So I thought, I am going to make the choice to use social media to try to do something positive in the world today. I need to take an action.

The real story here is how the bluegrass community stepped up and poured so much support and love through this 24 hour fundraising challenge into lives that desperately needed them.

That’s the bluegrass community that I know and love. Those are the same people who will welcome anyone into a jam at 3 o’clock in the morning. Who will offer you a meal at a festival even though they don’t know you. These are bluegrass people. In 24 hours my page was a vehicle for my friends and bluegrass lovers to raise over $12,000 for flood victims. I personally matched the highest donation of $1000. But those who gave did the heavy lifting. I had little to do with it other than just posting the link and having the idea.

I’ve since used that money to buy food, medical supplies, hygiene products, cleaning supplies, over the counter medicines, water, and more.

I’m just a guy who loves bluegrass music. I happen to have a truck and a few friends on Facebook. So, I got to work delivering supplies.

I feel like I am the luckiest person in the world to be a part of the Haywood County community and Canton, NC as I see these people work together to rebuild in a very difficult time, leaning on each other and supporting each other.

I’m also extremely lucky to be a part of the bluegrass music community. What amazing people throughout this industry.

There are positive things happening in the world and in bluegrass. I think that’s also a great reminder for all of us who are trying to support bluegrass music right now. We are trying to play live shows. We are trying to see each other. We are trying to do it in a healthy manner. We are trying to respect each other.

My spiritual principles tell me I should spend less time looking for what separates us, and more for coming together for the greater good. I don’t want to be part of a problem, I want to be part of a solution.

That’s what the people in Canton, NC did. And that’s what the people in the bluegrass music world did for Canton.

The people in this town have always supported me. These are the people who buy tickets, albums, and merchandise so we can what we do. I think we should give back.

The people in the bluegrass community have done the same. I am forever grateful and I want to thank them from the bottom of my heart.

I have attached a few photos so these good folks can see where their contributions went.

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