Randy Flack Is The Best Storyteller You’ve Never Heard Of
Showing some love to my favorite local musician
Back in early 2019 I went to a local event at my little town center. I didn't really know what the event was, but I saw they were going to have live music, so I decided to go. It turned out to be a tribute show for the Orchard At Altapass on the Blue Ridge Parkway, and the folks who have run it for numerous years.
The artists who were playing were all regulars who play at the Orchard, when they have live music. Everyone was great but one artist in particular caught my attention.
When Randy Flack was on stage he was telling an engaging story to go with each original song he played. Stories of his childhood, stories of his own children, stories of his earlier playing days. He was totally captivating, and the songs to go with the stories were damn good too.
After the show I looked at the program we were given and figured out that it was Randy Flack I enjoyed so much. I then went to the Orchard’s website to find out when he would be playing there.
The first weekend he played, I talked to him before he started. I introduced myself and told him I loved his set at the program before, and he was super grateful, and was glad I came to the Orchard.
The Orchard isn’t very big, and is mostly just people coming in off the parkway to buy souvenirs, or have a fresh slice of apple pie; so he wasn't playing to a huge crowd or anything, but there was a decent little gathering of people. When he started playing, I was amazed by how many songs he had in his repertoire. Someone would request something and if it was from around the 50s to 80s — he most likely could play it.
After this show I went home and looked up his originals. I listened to all the songs that were on Spotify (which unfortunately look like they’ve been taken off the platform). I loved pretty much every song I heard.
The next time I went to the Orchard to see him play, mid-way through his set, he shouted out and asked me what I wanted to hear him do, and I said I wanted to hear his original song; “Deep Creek.” He laughed and explained to the audience where I’d seen him, and that he did some of his originals at that show. He asked if I wanted it with or without the story, and of course, I said with the story. He then told the story of him and his buddies flirting with the gals who come up to North Carolina from Florida during the summer, and all the fun things they did on Deep Creek.
This is where Randy Flack really shines. I could listen all day to him telling stories of all his travels as a boy from Bryson City, North Carolina, trying to make it on the road as a singer/songwriter. I don’t think his music would be the same without the stories behind them. Take the song; “Ireland” for example. Before he sings this one he always tells the story of it’s conception.
He was hired to play a gig for a rich family’s house warming party in Georgia. Before the show he asked them what they wanted him to play. They said that anything is fine, but they really, really loved Ireland. He said he didn’t know any Irish songs, or even any songs about Ireland. They seemed really disappointed, so he told them if they’d pay him a little extra, he’d just write them a song about Ireland. They agreed and he went into this library they had in the house, and found a book on Ireland. He began to flip through the pages and anything he saw that inspired him, he’d write a little bit about it. In an hour or less he had a completed song to play at the party.
In November of 2019 I was turning 18, and my parents asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday. My birthday is the 9th and my dad’s is the 8th, so I said we should just do something for both of us. We landed on having an old fashioned pig pickin’.
If you don’t know what a pig pickin’ is; it’s when a whole bunch of people get together, and cook a whole pig, and everyone eats off of it.
We knew we’d be hard pressed to find a way to cook a whole pig ourselves, so we called up a local barbecue restaurant to see if they’d do it. They said they’d never done it before, but agreed to do it at the restaurant.
So the date and location was set. What were we gonna do other than eat though? My dad came through with a stellar plan; pay Randy Flack to play. We contacted Randy and he said he’d be happy to.
The party ended up being an absolute blast, and would not have been nearly as fun had Randy not been there. He played all our requests, he told his stories, and even cracked some jokes. At one point he had the whole room singing along to “Country Roads.” He even wrapped up by singing “Happy Birthday” to my dad and I.
Flack is an incredibly talented songwriter — if you couldn’t tell by the “Ireland” story. His songs are personal, but you can still always relate to them. He writes some soft, easy-going songs like “Angel” and then gets a little rowdy with songs like “Easy Money” and “Schlitz Faced.”
I touched on it before, but his ability to cover songs is the best I’ve ever seen. He can go from Elvis to George Jones, then to Bob Seger in the blink of an eye. If you name any artist he can usually play guitar and sing at least one of their songs. If you request a specific song and he doesn’t completely know it, he’ll give it his best shot, and improvise on the spot.
Here’s a small video from his YouTube channel showcasing this ability at the Orchard several years back:
I wish there was a better way I could plug his music and show off his talent, but since he’s pretty local it’s hard to find videos or music that’s easy to link. What I will do though is link his YouTube channel, and his Reverb Nation page. Here you can find some random videos like the one posted above, and on Reverb Nation you can listen to a bunch of his songs; and I highly recommend doing so.
Randy Flack Songs
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Here is a link to The Orchard’s YouTube, here you can find a few videos of Randy, but also plenty of videos featuring other talented local performers from my area as well:
I truly love Randy Flack’s music, and have immense respect for him as a person. I couldn’t really find a good place to squeeze it in the article, but he quit his life on the road as a musician for his daughter to stay with him. He is a great guy, and I wish I had an even bigger platform to get his name out there.
The Orchard is a great place as well, and I may end up writing a piece on the effect it had on me during a rough patch in life. It’s a lovely little venue that hosts the musical dreamers from all the surrounding, tiny, Western NC towns.
As always; thanks for reading! Love ya’ll.