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‘David Holt’s State of Music’ finds a home in the Blue Ridge this season

Rob Ickes and Trey Hensley, shown in an apple orchard at Jeter Mountain Farm, appear in episode 6 of ‘David Holt’s State of Music.’ The 2021 season was filmed on location at sites in Buncombe and Henderson counties. Rob Ickes and Trey Hensley, shown in an apple orchard at Jeter Mountain Farm, appear in episode 6 of ‘David Holt’s State of Music.’ The 2021 season was filmed on location at sites in Buncombe and Henderson counties.

When the onset of the coronavirus pandemic threatened the fifth season of a popular public TV show on North Carolina music, producer Will McIntyre and the show’s crew knew they had to get creative.


“Covid-19 made us do a lot of things this year that we had not done in the past,” said McIntyre, who lives with his wife and coproducer Deni, in the Crab Creek community. “We needed to have a location where we could bring these performers in and make them feel safe and basically take over the while place. We had like two pages of protocol we had to follow. Nobody got sick. The food came in boxes.”
In collaboration with David Holt, the host, singer and multi-instrumentalist, the McIntyres decided to say close to home. They scouted for locations with wide open spaces, versatility and good acoustics, then invited performers to spend some time on set with the Blue Ridge Mountains as backdrop. The six episodes were all filmed in Henderson and Buncombe counties.
“Keb Mo’ — rather than take an entire crew over to Nashville, we talked to him and said, ‘Hey, would you be willing to come to Henderson County?’ His wife Robbie and his sons spent three days in Henderson County and absolutely loved it,” McIntyre said.
Short for Kevin Moore, Keb Mo’ is a blues player who started out with Papa John Creech and, McIntyre says, “is friends with Taj Mahal.” Keb Mo’ opens the fifth season of David Holt’s State of Music, broadcast Thursday night at 9:30 on WUNC-TV.
For tonight’s premiere, Keb Mo’ performed while the crew filmed at Innisfree Farm, a spacious five-bedroom home on Rugby Road now operated as a vacation rental by Kaye Youngblood.
The fourth episode, profiling Muriel Anderson, was shot at Pinebrook Manor Inn, a historic home on Kanuga Road. Restored by Melanie and Graham MacPherson, the home is now a bed and breakfast inn.
“She loved it” McIntyre said of Anderson’s visit. “She lives part of the year in Long Island in New York and the other part in Nashville. We were able to get her to stop off in North Carolina when she was transitioning from Long Island back to Nashville. Chet Atkins introduced David and Muriel years ago when Chet said, ‘You need to listen to this girl play guitar.’”
McIntyre praised the generosity of all the property owners that let the State of Music crews invade.
“When we come into a place it’s kind of like the circus,” he said. “We’ve got trucks with lights and we kind of spread out everywhere.”
The last show of the season, featuring Rob Ickes and Trey Hensley, made a set out of Jeter Mountain Farm with its large event barn and working apple orchard.
“They have done a super job with that place,” McIntyre said of the Hunsader family, which bought the farm in 2011. “When we shot, there they were in the middle of harvesting apples but they were awful nice to us. They love the music. Because of Covid (preventing use of the event space) we were able to get that entire huge barn. In a place like that you can stay 10 feet away from somebody and not bother them.”
The other shows shot on location are:
• Episode 2: Zoe and Cloyd, filmed at Timber Hall in Leicester.
• Episode 3: John McCutcheon, filmed at Perelandra Studios in Asheville.
• Episode 5: Lakota John and Tray Wellington, filmed at Timber Hall in Asheville; Fairview, and Johnson City, Tennessee.
“We would have spent a lot more money taking our crew to places like Nashville, Tennessee, and Virginia,” McIntyre said. Three shows were shot in Henderson and three in Buncombe County. The crew used a drone to film at Jeter Mountain, “so, yeah, you’ll see places that you recognize.”
A four-time Grammy winner, Holt toured with the late Doc Watson for 14 years.
“The traditional music of this region is a treasure we’re privileged to share,” he said in a news release. “Whether it’s bluegrass, gospel, a string band, or the blues, the artists we feature are performing at the very highest level. Some are young; some are older but deserve greater recognition. We help raise awareness of these artists by presenting them to the PBS audience nationwide.”
The documentary music show has caught since someone suggested to Will and Deni McIntyre, “Why don’t you do something about music in North Carolina?”
“So we got together with David,” Will said. What he perceived first as a one-hour special turned into a regular series with a following nationwide. “Now, something like 93 percent of the entire public TV community has embraced it.”

To find out when you can see 'David Holt’s State of Music,' check the WUNC-TV schedule. The series can also be streamed anytime on iTunes, Amazon Prime or for PBS Passport members at PBS.org.