7th annual TAM YAM camp was ‘best ever’

Fiddlers Brooke Smith, Mary Johnson and Lily Holder play together, accompanied by Herman Towles.

PICKENS — With the addition of several new activities, the seventh annual TAM YAM Camp was “the best week we’ve ever had,” said Betty McDaniel, creator and director of the Young Appalachian Musicians (YAM) program.

Maria and Kevin Blakeney rehearse for the talent show during the seventh annual TAM YAM camp.

Maria and Kevin Blakeney rehearse for the talent show during the seventh annual TAM YAM camp.

Forty-four youngsters took part in this year’s Traditional Arts and Music (TAM)[cointent_lockedcontent] camp, held the week of July 20 at the Pickens Recreation Center.

“We had a really good group,” McDaniel said. “We had kids from as far away as Washington State, as well as Georgia and North Carolina. A lot of people think it’s just for kids enrolled in the YAM program, but the camp is open to rising third- through ninth-graders from anywhere.”

As always, campers spent mornings learning traditional methods of playing guitar, mandolin, banjo and fiddle, led by experienced local musicians. Afternoons were filled with outdoor games, traditional arts and crafts, square dancing, Appalachian cooking and more.

New to the camp this year were workshops on the farm chores of yesterday, including milking cows, churning butter and weaving, plus demonstrations of trick cycling and kayaking.

The week’s activities culminated with a Talent Show on Saturday, July 25, at the Pickens Amphitheater, where TAM YAM campers showcased their musical skills.

“We want to thank the city of Pickens and the Pickens Recreation Center,” McDaniel said. “They have been great to work with.”

The camp is sponsored by Preserving Our Southern Appalachian Music (POSAM), a nonprofit organization that promotes the traditional music, folk arts and culture of the region. In addition to the YAM after-school program in Pickens County, POSAM sponsors evening programs of instruction for acoustic musicians of all ages in Pickens, Greenville and Oconee counties.