• Sammy Hagar shared this photo on Instagram of a recent performance. Hagar stopped in last weekend to eat at The Daily Grind & Wine in downtown Murphy.

SCOUTING AROUND: 'Red Rocker' may return to Murphy to perform

   In a town like Murphy, it’s common to run into someone you know no matter where you go. However, Karen Hawkins didn’t realize who she had met Friday until it was too late.
   After she left work at the The Daily Grind & Wine at 2 p.m. that day, she kept replaying in her mind the conversation she had with a customer who was here to ride his convertible in the mountains. She had this feeling about it. The last words he said as they shook hands echoed in her head.
   “It’s been a real joy meeting you. My name is Sammy,” he said.
   Suddenly, it hit her while traveling in the car shortly after work with her husband, Jerry. She told him to pull over and pull up a recent photo of a certain rock star on his phone.
   “I flipped out, and I said, ‘I just met Sammy Hagar,’ “ Hawkins said.
   Hagar, also known as the “Red Rocker,” has had a long career in music, notably as the front man for Hall of Fame band Van Halen along with many solo hits. He tours today with his band The Circle.
   “It’s crazy,” Hawkins said about meeting the rock star. She said the last time she had seen Hagar was in the 1980s while watching MTV. He is, of course, older now and wearing a T-shirt and shorts, making it harder for her to recognize him. Plus, she was nearing the end of her shift and thinking about her weekend plans.
   He came in after the lunch rush died down with another man with long hair pulled back and two women. Hawkins could tell the foursome was unfamiliar with the area, so she started chatting with them, as she normally does with newcomers. She found out they had just finished driving the Tail of the Dragon in their convertible, and she suggested they try the Cherohala Skyway.
   She then started talking to them about music.
   “It was me trying to promote what we offer and what I know is awesome,” Hawkins said. “When people come in here and are not from here, I always encourage them to come back.”
   He was very interested in The Daily Grind’s Thursday night open jam session.
   “He said he loved music and had played all his life,” Hawkins said. She noticed another man started grinning when Hagar said this.
   Hagar asked if anyone could just come and play – and after she assured him they could – he said he may gather his band to come back.
   “I don’t think it’s that far-fetched,” Hawkins said.
   “I think it’s really great that he stopped in to eat, and it would be nice if he wanted to come back for a jam session,” said Lane Lowe, owner of The Daily Grind.
   “We like to support all the talented local musicians that have their roots in western North Carolina. So a big name like that sitting down side by side with our local talent would be a very memorable event.”
   Hagar and his companions sat in the front section at the window as he ate a reuben with a craft beer.
   “That reuben was amazing,” Hagar said when he finished his sandwich, according to Hawkins. “I love a good reuben.”
   Requests to Hagar’s representatives to confirm he was in Murphy went unanswered. If the rocker is able to make a return trip with his band, Hawkins will be better prepared.
   “If he comes back, I’ll know next time,” she said with a smile.

Ranger market returns
   The Mountain Folk Center Farmers Market at the Cherokee County Fairgrounds in Ranger is returning this weekend. The market plans to be open from 8 a.m. to noon Saturday.
   The market planned to be just as much a marketplace for local farmers as it is for people supporting farmers by having items like equipment for sale. The market also will be a place where farmers can sell their products wholesale to restaurants.
   This will be the third year for the farmers market. For details, call Preston Mashburn at 361-6598.

Summer show art needed
   The Murphy Art Center, or MAC, needs artists to submit work for June’s art exhibit. The exhibit, “Carolina Summer,” looks to feature art that captures the beauty and wonder of the summer in state.
   Each artist is allowed to submit two pieces of art by May 31. Art must not have been displayed in the Cherokee County Arts Council’s gallery in the past. There is no fee for Valley River Arts Guild members to submit, and the non-member fee is $10. The show is limited to 60 artists.
   Artwork will be on display and for sale throughout the month of June, with the opening reception June 2 during the Art Walk. For details, contact the MAC at 33 Valley River Ave., call 360-3038 or email vraginc@gmail.com.
   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.