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Arts & Entertainment

The 2014-15 First Thursday Old-Time and Bluegrass Concert and Jam Series at Western Carolina University’s Mountain Heritage Center will continue Thursday, Dec. 4, with a concert featuring the Deitz Family.

The family’s 7 p.m. performance of bluegrass and old-time music will be followed by an 8 p.m. jam session in which local musicians are invited to participate.

The Deitz Family has been a mainstay of the Jackson County music scene for generations. The group’s musical style varies from country to bluegrass and also includes some old-time fiddle tunes. WCU presented its Mountain Heritage Award to the family in 2006 in recognition of its outstanding contributions to the preservation of the history and culture of the Southern Appalachians.

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Zeata Ruff will be a special guest for storytime on Saturday, Nov. 29, at 11 a.m. She will read from her book, “The Gumdrop Tree: A Christmas Story.”

During the early 1930s through the 1970s, it was tradition in the Southern Appalachian Mountains for families to find a thorn bush when they went into the mountains to cut their Christmas tree. They would decorate the sharp spires with colorful gumdrops for the children to enjoy.

“The Gumdrop Tree” is written for children from the age of 4 to 13. It teaches that sometimes it does not take the tallest, fattest, most beautifully decorated Christmas tree to be special.

To reserve a copy, call City Lights at (828)586-9499.

Revises new novel and continues teaching at WCU

Just over 11 years after he joined the Western Carolina University faculty, author Ron Rash is celebrating the recent release of his short story “greatest hits,” putting the final touches on a new novel that holds a surprise for his fans, and relishing in the opportunities he has to nurture budding writers at the university.

Released this month by Harper-Collins, Rash’s collection “Something Rich and Strange: Selected Stories” includes 34 short stories written over a span of 34 years, with the oldest one dating back to when he was 27 years old. Most of the stories have been previously published in one of his five books of short stories, but three have appeared only in magazines.

Rash, WCU’s Parris Distinguished Professor of Appalachian Culture, said he had a pool of about 100 stories to consider when putting together the new book, and the process of going through them invoked “an eerie feeling.” He said he’s not a writer given to deep introspection in regards to his body of work – in fact, he has never re-read any of his novels because he would “find too much wrong with them.” In choosing the stories for the new collection, he said, “for the first time I was looking back over my writing career and trying to decide what I feel good about.”

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Former Mouseketeer Lindsey Alley will present an evening of musical performances mingled with stand-up comedy titled “Blood, Sweat and Mousketears” at the John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center at Western Carolina University on Tuesday, Dec 2.

Doors open at 7 p.m., and the show starts at 7:30 p.m.

A performer since the age of six, Alley was cast as a Mouseketeer in 1989 on the Disney Channel’s “All-New Mickey Mouse Club.” She was one of only three cast members to appear in the pilot and all seven seasons of the show, and she had the chance to work alongside such stars as Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera, Ryan Gosling and Keri Russell.

Alley performed on Broadway in “Hollywood Arms,” written by Carol Burnett and Carrie Hamilton, and in off- Broadway productions including “Grand and Glorious,” “Like It Is,” and “Look Ma…No Ears,” which Alley cowrote and produced.

In addition, her film and television credits include “How I Met Your Mother,” “I Didn’t Do It,” “Bedtime Stories,” “Company Retreat,” “B.L. Stryker,” “Earnest Saves Christmas” and “On the Patio,” her original hit Web series.

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