Melvin Moungle drove from Greensboro to be alone in the mountains with his djembe. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)
BUNCOMBE COUNTY, N.C. (WLOS) — The Blue Ridge Parkway is an audio-visual experience. What you hear is as calming as what you see.
“It’s a very peaceful setting,” said Melvin Moungle of Greensboro. “It’s a road that goes over the mountains. It’s free.”
The Parkway has a nearly one billion dollar economic impact, but that doesn’t calculate the value of being closer to nature.
Most come here for a little peace and quiet, but who says solitude can’t be a little loud?
Moungle drove from from Greensboro to be alone in the mountains with his djembe.
“You don’t have to worry about how loud you are,” the drummer said, pounding away recently on a sunny afternoon. “It’s a great place to get a better feel for your instrument, and not have to worry about anything else.”
The street musician says there’s no better place to practice.
Wherever he plays, Melvin becomes a road attraction for visitors.
Nancy Hardy of Baltimore stumbled up on a photo opportunity.
“I saw him sitting here, and I’m thinking ‘I hope he plays,’” she said.
When the Parkway was built in the 1930’s, chances are no one envisioned 469 miles of potential stage.
Tourists Mandy and Jill say the drum solo makes perfect sense.
“How could this not inspire you?” asked Mandy Neuhaus. “And I said, the mountains bring the music out of his soul and Jill said, ‘Acoustics.’ The mountains make a better sound.”
“I play for enjoyment, but I want to get better and when you have people coming by it reminds you, you have an audience,” Moungle explained.
Curious visitors don’t bug him, but insects do. So repellant is essential this time of year.
“That’s the one down side of being up here. Man, they get hungry!” he said.
One of the few downsides to a natural amphitheatre in the Land of the Sky.
“Like out here, it’s an escape from the norm,” he says. “An escape from technology.”
For Melvin Moungle, it’s as much spiritual as it is musical.
It’s remarkable what happens when a drummer takes the road less traveled.
“It lets you release a lot of emotion, a lot of energy,” he said. “This is what North Carolina is about.”