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Benefit to Relocate Landmark Mrs. Hyatt’s Music House Planned


A Treasured Landmark for Appalachian Regional Music for more than 60 Years.

(Asheville) Mrs. Hyatt’s Music House Preservation Society, in conjunction with the Preservation Society of Asheville and Buncombe County, will be co-hosting the “Battle of the Bands Unplugged” on Saturday, April 13th and Sunday, April 14th from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM.  A “Poker Run” for motorcycle enthusiasts will also take place on Saturday, April 13th.  Check in will take place at Anderson Nissan 629 Brevard Road in Asheville a 10:30 AM.  The events are a benefit to save Mrs. Hyatt’s Music House.  Original songwriters, acoustic Old-Time, Bluegrass, Gospel, Country and Mountain music will compete for a $2,000 prize to be awarded on June 1st at JAMFEST to be held at the WNC Agricultural Center.  JAMFEST will also celebrate Neila Hyatt’s 96th birthday.  Entry forms and tickets for the Battle of the Bands Unplugged are available at mrshyattsmusichouse@gmail.com or call (828) 633-1136.

For more than 60 years Neila Hyatt has been hosting bluegrass music in her Asheville home, known by many as Mrs. Hyatt’s Music House.  Over the years, bluegrass legends and novice players alike gathered together for weekly jams in this warm and friendly setting. According to Karen Cogdill-Reilly, Mrs. Hyatt’s granddaughter, “It’s an environment conditioned to learning and passing on tradition – here manners count more than musicianship.  The young learn from the old sitting around the music circle.” Even at 95, Neila Hyatt remains at the center of this circle; musicians still surround her during her weekly visits to the jams.

Recent events, however, have threatened the very existence of this treasured landmark. “Our first and foremost priority is to save the Music House,” said Karen Cogdill-Reilly.  Mrs. Hyatt’s Music House Preservation Society, Incorporated, a 501(C)(3) not-for-profit organization, was recently established to further this effort. “Sadly, we were unable to save Nelia’s home, but the music house must survive – and the music will live on.”  Anderson Nissan, owner of the adjacent dealership, has offered to host the weekly Thursday night jams on a temporary basis.

“We are planning a series of events to raise the needed $200,000 to relocate the Music House to another nearby property in Asheville,” says Cogdill-Reilly.   “The Battle of the Bands Unplugged,” will take place in various locations throughout the five counties surrounding Asheville including White Horse, Black Mountain; Rejavanation, Candler; Maggie Valley Conference Center; Lions Club, Leicester; The Depot, Marshall; Feed and Seed, Fletcher, and the Leicester VFW;.  A fundraising raffle will include a treasured Max Woody rocker, and handmade quilt, among other items

Mrs. Hyatt’s Music House mountain music jams have delighted tourists and newcomers and offered a familial environment for musicians.  Pickers at the Hyatt jams have included Grammy winner Bryan Sutton, Shane Lail of the Dillards, Chris Sharp, formerly with the John Hartford String Band, George Buckner , Lawrence Dillingham and Wayne Erbsen, now instructor of Appalachian Culture at Warren Wilson College, are regulars.  They have been instrumental in preserving the roots of traditional Appalachian mountain music.

Over time, the jams became so popular that they out grew the Hyatt family living room and in 1974, Wayne Hyatt created the “Music House” himself in his garage to provide a place to “pick outside” year round.   This humble venue has attracted media attention from far and wide including features in The Times of London, The Evening News with Tom Brokaw, the Voice of America and a listing as a destination in the popular online Trip Advisor, among many others.

“A sense of urgency has required us to move ahead quickly to archive the contents of Mrs. Hyatt’s,” says Cogdill-Reilly.   “We have hundreds of photos, articles and assorted memorabilia to preserve before the building is lost. “That’s our top priority right now while we continue to look for a new, permanent location for the Music House in Buncombe County.”

“When these folk-era people are gone, I don’t know who’s going to take their place in the music house circle, she said pointing out that electronic music now dominates this generation’s playlist. Mrs. Hyatt’s has been a place for both musicians and storytellers to gather – to play their tunes and tell tales.  Luthiers, as well as crafters, have come here and practiced their skills.  Today, there are more and more young people picking up traditional music and there is an ever-increasing desire to preserve Western North Carolina folk history and culture — we need to preserve this place for them,” she added.