• Heidi Holton belts out the Delta blues for guests at the Valleytown Cultural Arts Center’s 50/50 Show in Andrews.

SCOUTING AROUND: Holton works magic for blues music

   The next time you hear a new song from singer/songwriter Heidi Holton of Andrews, there may be some magic behind it. She spent the last week in August at an unique apprenticeship in California to learn more about the origins of blues music.
   “It’s important to keep growing. You get on this performing schedule ... it gets easy to coast,” she said. “I think for artists, it’s always important to keep pushing the envelope. The second you start slacking off, that’s when your music gets stale.”
   Her apprenticeship was at the Lucky Mojo Curio Co. in Forestville, which specializes in African-American folk magic. She spent her days learning from Cat Yronwode how to make oils, incenses and mojo bags.
   “I got into the traditional African-American folk magic because of how it relates to blues music,” Holton said.
   She found Yronwode and her shop while doing an online search about a decade ago, and has been connecting with her ever since. She thinks what she learned in this one week apprenticeship will affect what she writes in the future.
   “I have a deeper understanding for where blues music is coming from,” Holton said.
   Holton also got to show her talent by performing every day she spent in Sonoma County, which is about an hour north of San Francisco. Her first night, she performed at an open mic, then was invited to a songwriters’ showcase. She sold CDs of her music and made valuable contacts.
   The area in California was mountainous, like Murphy, but had more of a rugged, desert climate. She loved Forestville, like many of the other places she’s traveled to, but was happy to return to Murphy.
   “I travel so much, and I’ve lived in so many places,” Holton said. “I’m in this constant place of feeling homesick.”
   She plans to return for the second week of her apprenticeship in May. Holton also plans to continue her education by attending a guitar workshop in Ohio in October.

Ride the Rails returns
   Ride the Rails, in which families get to enjoy a scenic trip on historic motor rails, will return Saturday and Sunday at the Historic L&N Depot in Mineral Bluff, Ga.
   The five-mile, 40-minute trip takes riders along the Toccoa River and through the Iron Bridge to Murphy Junction.
   It then travels backward to the depot. Riders can sit in one of three motor cars with seats facing out, or enjoy views from the hay-filled car.
   Trips run continuously from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. both days. When not riding the motor cars, both young and old can enjoy trying out the genuine railroad handcar.
   Inside the depot, visitors can see the 37-feet-by-22 feet HO scale model railroad the Tri-State Model Railroaders have built over the years, and continue to build. The model is based on the L&N Railroad’s Old Line, starting in Atlanta by the entrance to the building, winding around Ellijay, Ga., and Blue Ridge, Ga., to Mineral Bluff, Ga., Murphy and Etowah, Tenn.
   Food vendors also will be on hand for the weekend festivities.
   Families can Ride the Rails for a suggested donation of $10 for adults, $5 for children ages 2-12. The handcar ride is available at $2 per person, each trip. The depot is at 150 Railroad Ave.
   The Tri-State Model Railroaders was unable to hold the fundraiser last year due to the logistics of the ownership of the track changing. As a result, it brought the event back for two weekends this year.
   The group’s first Ride the Rails event in 2017 was held in May.
   Samantha Sinclair is the Scouting Around columnist for the Cherokee Scout. You can reach her by email, scoutingaround@cherokeescout.com; fax, 837-5832; or by leaving a message in the office at 837-5122.