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Discovering Author Valerie Nieman

by Cory Marie Podielski on March 3, 2015

in Featured Classes, Featured Teacher, Writing

Valerie dips her feet in the sand at Pacifica, CA - always close to water.

Valerie dips her feet in the sand at Pacifica, CA – always close to water.

Acclaimed North Carolina writer Valerie Nieman will be teaching The Breath of Life: Discovering and Depicting Characters at the Folk School, July 5-10, 2015. This month brings the release of her second poetry collection, “Hotel Worthy.”

CP: How long have you taught at the Folk School?

VN: Hard question! I don’t have a great memory for dates. Several years ago, anyway. I began by teaching weekend character development classes and then graduated to a week-long fiction session in 2013. In 2014, I taught a weekend workshop and then spent a week taking a woodworking class – my first taste of being a student at John C. Campbell. What fun! I produced two lovely occasional tables, though I had never before worked with any power tools beyond a drill. The Folk School method definitely works.

CP: What is your favorite Folk School memory?

VN: Can I offer a quilt?

The magnificent elm tree in front of the Orchard House. Cracking thunderstorms. The Whipstitch Sisters rocking the house. The coal-smoke smell from the Blacksmith Shop.  “Simple Gifts” sung by a chorus of hungry workers. Purple martins. River cane whispering near the stream. Morning Song. Smiles – always smiles!  Enticing smells of Indian cooking emanating from the Cooking Studio. Cohosh berries – “doll’s eyes” – beside the path. Learning to contra dance. Bees working the gardens.  Creaking floors at the Keith House. The dinner bell. Mist on the fields. The sound of hammered dulcimers. Wild blackberries!

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Leah & Corinna Rose. Image is a video still from a project byl Grace Glowicki.

Leah & Corinna Rose. Image is a video still from a project by Grace Glowicki.

Please join us Monday March 2nd at 7 p.m. in the Keith House Community Room for a free Monday night concert that welcomes Montreal acoustic folk duo Corinna Rose and Leah Dolgoy for their first appearance together at the Folk School.

While this will be Corinna’s first Folk School experience, we are delighted to welcome back two-time student host, Leah Dolgoy and to see how her Folk School mountain musical education weaves its way into her Montreal-based indy-folk project. I caught up with Leah to ask her a little bit about this:

Cory Marie: Leah! We are so excited that you are coming to see us. We’ve missed you! Tell me about your band and what you’ve been up to.

Leah: Corinna and I have been playing together for five years and have been touring together for nearly as long. We’ve recorded two studio albums with a larger ensemble and one acoustic EP that we put together live of just the two of us. We are heading back into studio to record our second acoustic EP at the end of March. I love the direction of Corinna’s songwriting and it’s been inspiring for me to push the boundaries of my main instrument (autoharp) as well as to incorporate my Folk School musical knowledge and training on folk harp into her new material. I think the sweet little Campbellin I made in John Huron’s class last year might even make an appearance on the new record. The Folk School has had such a profound influence on my life and way of seeing the world. I know that this is reflected in the music we play in all sorts of ways. Next Monday, we’ll probably even play a few tunes that I learned in Brasstown and taught to Corinna.

Cory Marie: What are your plans for your stay in Brasstown?

Leah: (sigh) It’s going to be such a quick visit. I wish I had more time but we are in the middle of a big tour on the American east coast with most of our dates being much further north. I am so excited about introducing Corinna to the Folk School community so that is certainly a priority. I want to wander around campus, visit my favorite spots, jam with friends, and hug everyone. Oh – and we’re also playing Morning Song on Tuesday. That’s a priority. I love Morning Song.

Show details:

Corinna Rose
Monday, March 2 at 7 pm
Keith House Community Room
Admission is free.

Visit to learn more.

Hear Corinna Rose on



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A variety of meats in the smoker

A variety of meats in the smoker

Charcuterie, a French word stemming from the words chair ‘flesh’ and cuit ‘cooked’, is the branch of cooking devoted to the preparation and preservation of meat products, including sausage, bacon, ham, confit, and pâtés. Originally developed as a means of preservation, prior to the advent of refrigeration, charcuterie has made a resurgence in the local food movement as increasingly more craft eateries are offering local meat products on their carte du jour.


Instructor Brian Knickrehm

Instructor Brian Knickrehm

This course is instructed by Brian Knickrehm, Executive Sous chef for the Red Stag Grill at the Grand Bohemian Hotel in Asheville, North Carolina. Over the course of the week students learned the basic principles and techniques necessary to cure and smoke a variety of whole muscle meats and sausages, such as bacon cured in molasses and brown sugar, tasso ham, kielbasa, bratwurst, chaurice, bodin, Vienna, and blood sausage.

In addition to pork, the class also worked with local trout to make gravlax as well as duck in the production of cured and smoked duck breast bacon and duck leg confit. A variety of pâtés and liver mousses were also on the menu including a duck foie gras terrine.

The week’s study in the kitchen culminated in a dinner on Thursday night. Those in attendance  were treated with a veritable smorgasbord of smoked, cured, and confit meats composed in a mouth watering arrangement.

Dinner spread

Dinner spread

Luke and Julie in front of the Cooking Studio hearth

Luke and Julie in front of the Cooking Studio hearth

One week is a good introduction to the vast collection of meat curing techniques and applications. Students the class departed with a great sense of possibility. Brian shared many sources for individual study in the production of dry cured meat products and fermented sausages, which take months to prepare.

The next Charcuterie class at the Folk School is scheduled for November 15-20, 2015. If you are interested in learning the art of artisan meat curing then this meat enthusiast suggests you consider this class for your next visit. Visit the Folk School website for more information.



Jan and Nanette welcome three newlywed couples to the Folk School’s Big Red Heart
(Line up includes: L-R: Julie & Harry, Nanette & Jan, Robert & Keather, Hannah & Ted)

Do you know about the heart of the Folk School? The people, the creativity, the tradition, the camaraderie, the music, the home cooking, the smell of Keith House when you first walk in? Arguably, these are all elements that make up the intangible heart of the Folk School, but I am talking here about the tangible Big Red Heart. This is the heart that documents Folk School couples with the Sharpie of Destiny, turning their love into legend. I sat down with Folk School director Jan Davidson this Valentine’s Week to find out a little bit more about the myth and magic of the Big Red Heart.


CP: What is the Big Red Heart? Who made it?

 JD: Dana Hatheway (who was at that time the Resident Artist in Woodworking) made the Big Red Heart. I believe he was having an anniversary with his wife Marcia Bugg (who was the Resident Artist in Clay). They had already been married many years and it just occurred to Dana that it would be cool thing to make a Big Red Heart. So he cranked it out on the band saw, painted it red, and stuck a dowel through the middle of it like an arrow. The dowel was even originally fledged with a little bit of pink boa feather. It sticks all the way through the heart and you can spin the heart in your hand.

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This past weekend, instructor Alice Russell taught a Quilting class. She brought some samples of her quilting, including this beautiful quilt she recently created for the Quilts of Valor Foundation​ which provides quilts to heal and comfort our service members and veterans. We think that’s pretty awesome! Go Alice!


Julie Johnson and Alice Russell hold up Alice’s “Quilt of Valor”

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