Carley Arrowood’s “Tsali’s Run” is a fiery instrumental that shows off her fiddle prowess

Article Contributed by Mountain Home … | Published on Saturday, May 13, 2023

Though Mountain Home Music Company’s Carley Arrowood is a compelling singer — for proof, look no further than her last single, “Deeper In Love” — she’s also a virtuosic instrumentalist who got her first gigs as a player. Like many of her fiddle heroes, she’s not only an interpreter of tunes old and new, but a gifted composer of them, too. And as a native of Western North Carolina with an appreciation both for its natural mountain beauty and its cultural legacy, it’s no surprise that she would turn for inspiration to a story set there when titling her latest single, a fiery instrumental called “Tsali’s Run.”

“I wrote this tune last summer as a fun attempt at something with a Celtic/bluegrass feel,” says Arrowood. “Little did we know it would come to have a Cherokee title! Last June, [husband] Daniel [Thrailkill] and I went on our first anniversary trip to Cherokee, NC, and saw ‘Unto These Hills’ as a part of it. I have a little Cherokee in my veins, and it was so moving to learn more about Tsali, a Cherokee hero who gave up his life to save the rest of his people before the Trail of Tears took place. He and his two oldest sons willingly surrendered to a firing squad after running ‘unto the hills’ to hide. Go see the play if you haven't! This tune found its name when we got home from our trip, as we both could just picture Tsali and his boys running through the woods. The studio band was incredible, and Tony Creasman made the song feel extra chilling with his hand drum.”

The band Arrowood refers to here was first heard on “Deeper In Love”: Thrailkill on guitar, Jeff Partin (Rhonda Vincent & the Rage) on bass and resonator guitar, Nick Dumas (mandolin) and banjo player Tabitha Benedict (the Foreign Landers), along with legendary session drummer Creasman, with master fiddler Jim VanCleve in the producer’s chair. From the pronounced Celtic flavor of the tune’s jig time opening into the rapid-fire bluegrass reel of the track’s remainder, each of the soloists offers a different creative take on the tune’s dazzlingly arpeggiated melody, underlining the desperate story of the tune’s namesake. It’s a timely reminder of Arrowood’s growing capabilities as an arranger and musical leader, as well as offering further insight into her deep feel for her instrument — all wrapped up in a performance that captivates with every note.

“If you listen closely,” Arrowood points out in closing, “you'll hear three subtle crash cymbals as the song closes, and they mimic the sound of the gunshots that marked the bitter but courageous end of Tsali and his boys. ‘Tsali's Run’ is so energetic and thrilling to play, and I hope that listeners will love and be moved by it as we are.”

Listen to "Tsali's Run" HERE.