The Sylva country music star returns home to give a concert and a boost to local little leaguers at 6 p.m. on Saturday, April 30, when Matt Stillwell and his guitar hit Mark Watson Park. He brings his own stage as part of his Hometown House Party tour.
The tour began with marketing around his song “Everybody’s Got A Hometown,” but when COVID-19 shut down the world, it became his new way of touring. He had a trailer built to serve as his stage and merchandise stand, and by the end of 2021 he had played 200 shows, he said.
“I stop by neighborhoods, backyards and schools all over the country,” he said. “I play my songs and tell my stories in people’s elements. I bring it to the people.
Stillwell performing to help Little League baseball in Jackson County is fitting.
His years playing on the local fields made him a very good baseball player, he said.
He played at Smoky Mountain High School, graduated in 1993, and went on to a promising baseball career at Western Carolina University. He considered a foray into professional baseball, but the music won out, he said.
“At the end of my senior year at Western, it just made sense to jump into music headfirst and I wanted to be able to do that until I was Willie Nelson’s age,” he said. -he declares.
The show is free, but donations will be appreciated to help Little League, he said.
Stillwell won’t bring a full band to Sylva, he said.
“It’s just me and an acoustic guitar,” he said. “It will be the first concert in my hometown, so it’s pretty special.”
Stillwell predicts he’ll perform “Everybody’s Got a Hometown,” “Hey Dad,” “Shine,” and “Ignition,” among others.
He plans a two-hour set with no intermission, he said.
The video for her best-known song, “Hey Dad,” features footage of Sylva, including a shot of a tractor-trailer pulling her father’s casket and a bulldozer down West Main Street.
“Hey Dad” was written as a tribute to his late father, George, and now has over 1 million streams and over 30 million collective video views.
George Stillwell died in 2014. Stillwell’s mother, Madge, still lives in the family home on Hidden Valley Road.
On tour since 2009, Stillwell returns home about six times a year, but he’s been around the county a bit more now than usual.
“I host Castle Sessions at Castle Ladyhawke once a month from May to October,” he said. “These are songwriter/storyteller events in the castle. It’s a songwriter-in-the-round hybrid, in the sense that I interview the other musicians.
According to the event’s website, the evening includes live music from the session’s featured artist, a name only revealed to attendees the week before the event. Ilda de Sylva offers hearty aperitifs, Dark Moon prepares the drinks, wine is provided by the Wine Bar & Cellar.
Stillwell also recently performed at Happ’s Place in Glenville, he said.
Mark Watson’s show is free to the community, but a collector’s hat could do the trick, said Jackson County Little League board member Todd Baucom.
Yet the event at Mark Watson is more than a fundraiser.
“It’s the 65th year of Little League charter in Jackson County, so it’s kind of a celebratory event,” Baucom said. “We will honor some of the people who have been involved as coaches, board members, league presidents and volunteers over these 65 years.
The funds are for a new program.
“We are trying to set up a Little League Challenger division, which will be for people with physical and mental disabilities,” Baucom said.
Little League representatives and county staff were scheduled to meet Tuesday to discuss the idea.
“The school system is looking to create an all-inclusive playground somewhere,” he said. “What we’re looking for is hopefully a marriage between the county, Parks & Rec and us to create a kind of mixed-use facility that aims to be an inclusive area.
“We thought Matt would be a good fit to come in and do something, being a Little League veteran with us and Smoky and Western, so it all came together and worked really well,” Baucom said.