You can’t argue with success

Published 10:02 am Thursday, June 9, 2016

The 25th annual Syme Family gathering, open to everyone, will be held at the Darden Family Farm in Mapleton, NC running from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, June 18. It is located along Harewood Road, off U. S. 158, five miles east of Murfreesboro.

In addition to the music, there will be a pig pickin’.

Admission is by donation. For $12 an RV hookup can be reserved. For more information call Melodie Darden Hitt at (252) 297-6113, or e-mail her at

The line-up, in addition to Suzi, includes Travis Hollaway, Patchwork, Dymond(cq) City Bluegrass, Kathy Whatley, Dry Creek, and Nancy Joyner and Early Station. More acts might be added later.

It is advertised as a bluegrass presentation, but there will be lots of other country-flavored music, plus some jazz and pop.

Miriam Syme, also known as Suzi Darden, finally as Suzi Arden, is 86-years-old and still ‘fiddlin’ around.

The Portsmouth native who is in charge is an entertainer who has a fantastic track record in the music business – a career easily described as unique. She was a close friend of Patsy Cline – “who lived with me for awhile,” and she worked with Roy Acuff who, she said, “taught me how to play “Mockingbird.”

She knew Willie Nelson when he was a struggling young songwriter, and she appeared on a bill with Elvis. True country fans will easily recognize some of the other artists with whom she was associated such as Brenda Lee, Jan Howard, Ferlin Husky, Johnny Cash, Faron Young, Flatt and Scruggs, Skeeter Davis, Hawkshaw Hawkins, and Pee Wee King. And, there was Arthur Godfrey.

The list is lengthy and most of the c-w performers are/were members of the Country Music Hall Of Fame. As for Suzi, she is a member of the Western Swing Hall of Fame. Her music is a wonderful echo of Bob Wills and The Texas Playboys. Western swing is our mutually favorite genre.

Not only did she work with stars but, more importantly, she was a star. Her Las Vegas ‘gig’ at The Mint Hotel was the longest running show in that city. Someone called her, “a dynamic entertainment package.”

It was also written that she was a whole line of Rockettes (Radio City Music Hall dancers) rolled into one.” She was a hot attraction, to say the least, fans enjoying her fiddle playing, her singing, her cavorting.

Her niece, Melodie Hitt (a great name, considering) described her as having, “a strong will – and she doesn’t mind telling you that you need to do it her way.” You might as well – you can’t argue with success.

The family is a good part of that success. She used to duet with an uncle, and she travelled with family – brothers, sisters, and their families. Some of the brothers’ wives were part of her band. And, there were cousins a-plenty who, as soon as each turned 18, would join the entourage. Currently, she performs with the next generation of the Darden Family Band.

For many years she was a member of the prestigious Ozark Mountain Jubilee, second in country music venues only to the Grand Ole Opry.

Before that she was heard on “The Old Dominion Barn Dance,” from Richmond. For the most part, her performing days are behind her but she still ‘concertizes’ at the family farm. No drinking, no drugs, no cursing and, “we feed ‘em,” she emphasized during an interview while she was en-route to visit a son in Boise. One acquaintance said the 2016 edition might be her last.

If you want to contact Miss Arden, lots of luck. No web site – no computer but, you can go into sites bearing her name and take a look at the beautiful, talented lady – then and now.

Best bet? Go to her festival. She’ll be singin’, swingin’ and smilin’. Oh, and so will you.


Frank Roberts, who is 87, spent 60 years writing and talking. He and his wife, Valeria, have three children, five grandchildren, and three great-granddaughters. He loves to write.