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Arts & Entertainment

The Manhattan Transfer is a Grammy award-winning jazz fusion band that has been making beautiful music together for several decades. The group concludes a world-wide tour later this month in Osaka, Japan, and will immediately begin their holiday tour in December. One of their first stops will be at the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday, Dec. 6, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets start at $25 each.

Tim Hauser was the founding member of The Manhattan Transfer. He loved music as far back as he could remember and began singing professionally at the age of 15. He produced an album when he was 19 and spent his college years fine-tuning his musical talents. He then spent time serving our country in the Air Force and National Guard before beginning a career in marketing. He became a marketing manager for Nabisco and was well on his way to a lucrative career in business.

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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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