In the middle of May, we got a call from Charlie Shakelton of Shakelton Thomas Furniture in VT. He asked if we could supply chairs for the stage at a Yo-Yo Ma Concert Memorial Day weekend in Knoxville, TN. Of course, we couldn’t say, “YES” fast enough!
You see, Charlie was doing his daughter Sophie a favor. Sophie Shakelton, Creative Producer at Sound Postings (the Office of Yo-Yo Ma), grew up in a wood shop and knew she wanted handmade chairs on stage – she had just the guy to help her. Charlie also asked if we knew any other chairmakers in the Knoxville region. We suggested Curtis Buchannan, an old friend and fellow founder of Greenwood and Berea College, where a former employee Aaron Beale and his assistant Rob Spiece had recently introduced chairmaking to talented students.
This extraordinary event included a wide array of talent, from Appalachian regional singers to African American and Native American musicians and storytellers celebrating “Our Common Nature.” View the Event Here. We all got VIP seating that memorable evening in return for the loaning chairs for the show. We sent an assortment of 8 of our chairs, as did Curtis; Katie Bister, a current Berea college student also had her rocking chair on the stage.
We have been very fortunate with some exciting opportunities in my 40 years as a chairmaker, 15 of those working with my wife, Melanie, here in Asheville. Our Sonus chair, in particular, has introduced us to some famous musicians. That being said, this particular event that Yo-Yo Ma and Sophie put together not only entertained us for the evening, but the richness of the performance and the stories told will be with us forever. We are grateful to Charlie for reaching out and to all those responsible for making “Our Common Nature” come to life in a magical evening celebrating our rich regional culture. Even as we write this newsletter, the emotion of the experience resurfaces, proving that events like this can be everlasting.
We hope you all find your way to great live performances this summer. Good live music is nourishing, makes life a little sweeter, and can be genuinely inspiring. You can find snippets of these performances on YouTube.
Learn more about our Sonus Musicians Chair here.