Musings on folk, Americana, country, bluegrass and newgrass

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Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival of Music and Dance features Galactic, Donna the Buffalo, Roosevelt Collier, Tan and Sober Gentlemen, Shiloh Hill and many more Oct. 3-6

PITTSBORO, NORTH CAROLINA — The 16th Annual Shakori Hills GrassRoots Festival of Music & Dance is set for Oct. 3–6 on an idyllic 72 acres in bucolic Chatham County, less than an hour’s drive from Raleigh, Durham and Greensboro.

More than 50 performers, including Galactic, Donna the Buffalo, Roosevelt Collier, Tan and Sober Gentlemen and Shiloh Hill, will appear on four stages over four days. Other activities include yoga, dance and sustainability workshops.

The festival site has been described as a “music lovers’ paradise” and offers affordable tent, vehicle and RV camping options. Four-day and single-day tickets are on sale now and children 12 and under are free with a paying adult. Learn more at

The nonprofit festival benefits the Shakori Hills Community Arts Center. The Arts Center provides free, or greatly reduced, music and arts programming to Chatham, Orange and Durham counties.

The following ticket outlets will have four-day tickets:
Circle City Books (Pittsboro)
The Regulator Bookshop (Durham)
Townsend Bertram & Co (Carrboro)
Schoolkids Records (Raleigh & Chapel Hill)
Redix Store (Wilmington & Wrightsville Beach)
REI Co-op (Raleigh, Cary, Durham)


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Inaugural Earl Scruggs Music Festival set for Sept. 4-5, 2020 in Mill Spring, N.C.

RALEIGH — One of Grammy award-winning Dobro player Jerry Douglas’ earliest memories is hearing Earl Scruggs play banjo on the radio in his childhood Cleveland home.
“I doubt I would be a musician now if it hadn’t been for that sound,” Douglas told a group gathered at the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) annual conference and music festival in the Raleigh Convention Center on Friday, Sept. 27, for the announcement of the inaugural Earl Scruggs Music Festival set for Sept. 4-5, 2020, at the Tryon International Equestrian Center in Mill Spring, North Carolina.

Douglas continued, “Little did I know that later in life he would be my friend.A s far as I’m concerned this festival named in his honor is far overdue. But I also believe that’s the way Earl would want it to be. We can only hope that we can make him proud in how we perceive his legacy to the world.”

Douglas, who started his group the Earls of Leicester as a tribute to Scruggs, will act as musician in resident for the festival.

Scruggs, who has deep ties to North Carolina, popularized a three-finger banjo picking style that became a defining characteristic of bluegrass music.
The two-day event that will feature music from bluegrass, folk, blues, roots and Americana styles to celebrate Scruggs is a collaboration between the Earl Scruggs Center located in Shelby and WNCW radio station located on the campus of Isothermal Community College. The festival will benefit both the radio station and the college.
In addition to Douglas, the initial lineup includes Marty Stuart, Alison Brown, Dom Flemons, Radney Foster, Darin & Brooke Aldridge, The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys, The Barefoot Movement and Unspoken Tradition. Both Foster and Unspoken Tradition performed as part of the announcement that was made by festival director Steve Johnson, formerly of MerleFest.

Few other artists in American history have had such an impact as Scruggs, according to a festival press release. His work in 1946/47 with Bill Monroe & the Blue Grass Boys and later with Flatt and Scruggs helped create an entire genre of music. His banjo playing was so fresh and different for the time that it was christened the “Scruggs style” of banjo and is still the most prominent banjo performance style in the world.

“Earl was my uncle, so I knew him a long time,” says JT Scruggs, a board member of the Earl Scruggs Center. “The first Earl Scruggs Music Festival presents an opportunity to bring exposure and new visitors to the Earl Scruggs Center in Shelby, North Carolina. The proceeds from the festival will also help to keep the center in good financial shape. The festival will bring great music and many different groups to the region. And I hope that people will hear things about Earl that they may have never heard before as all the artists share their personal stories. I know that Earl would be proud of what we are doing and that we are remembering him through the festival.”

Noah Wall of The Barefoot Movement grew up in North Carolina.

“I feel so lucky to have that in common with legends like Earl Scruggs,” he said. “He was such a trailblazer, not just a pioneer of bluegrass, but he also pushed the boundaries of traditional music. I don’t think he set out to be different for the sake of standing out, I think he did it for sake of the music itself. He just sought after good music, music that moved him, and that is so inspiring to me.”

In October, two new acts — Acoustic Syndicate and Blue Highway– were announced. More artists, both national and North Carolina-based, will be added over the coming months. The festival will feature more than 20 artists and three stages in a beautiful setting at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains, according to organizers. Camping, lodging, restaurants and other amenities will be available onsite.
For tickets and more information, visit and

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Bluegrass music’s biggest night is 2019 International Bluegrass Music Awards

Tonight’s the night: the biggest night of the year for bluegrass musicians around the globe. All eyes and ears will be focused on the red carpet at the Duke Energy Performing Arts Center in downtown Raleigh, North Carolina, as the industry’s biggest and brightest stars head to the 30th Annual International Bluegrass Music Awards.

Nominees for “Entertainer of the Year” are Balsam Range, Sam Bush Band, The Earls of Leicester, Del McCoury Band and first-time nominee Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers. The five nominees have a whopping 24 nominations among them this year. Multiple nominations for Sister Sadie, Carolina Blue, Mile Twelve, Molly Tuttle, Missy Raines and Rhonda Vincent are also notable on this year’s list of nominees.

Can’t make it the awards show in person? The show will be broadcast live on Sirius XM Satellite Radio (Bluegrass Junction) at 7:30 p.m. EDT, streamed via Facebook Live and will be made available for rebroadcast by radio stations worldwide, thanks to the sponsorship of Chiesi USA, Virginia Tourism, Deering Banjos, Compass Records, the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum, BMI, and Boston Bluegrass Union. A special red carpet live stream will be available on IBMA’s Instagram page as well. Continue reading

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Zoe and Cloyd release newest album, ‘I Am Your Neighbor’ during IBMA’s 2019 World of Bluegrass annual festival

If you are attending this week’s International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA)’s World of Bluegrass conference and festival in Raleigh, North Carolina, you hopefully have a chance to catch one of Zoe & Cloyd‘s many sets as one the event’s Official Showcase Artists.

The duo — Western North Carolina natives Natalya Zoe Weinstein and John Cloyd Miller — have been on my radar since I discovered them at MerleFest. Fans of the former Americana trio Red June will recognize the Appalachian roots husband and wife duo that made up two-thirds of that group.

I continue to be particularly impressed by the fiddle stylings of Weinstein and the guitar and banjo talents of Miller as well as their gorgeous harmonies. Their traditional approach to their music take you back to an earlier era. If you like Mandolin Orange, you’ll like Zoe & Cloyd.

Based in Asheville, the couple have been making music together in various arrangements since first meeting in 2005.

I had a chance to chat briefly with Weinstein after the band’s set at Social Architect on Wednesday night and she said they were really excited to be featured again as IBMA Official Showcase Artists, an honor they haven’t enjoyed since 2016. In addition to performing during the week at the business conference you can find them playing at the free WOB StreetFest on Friday and Saturday in downtown Raleigh.

“This week is always a highlight of our year, and we are really looking forward to catching up with folks and hearing lots of great music,” Weinstein said.

At the end of their toe-tapping inducing performance, they rolled out a new tune, “Only Game In Town,” which lead  Weinsteint to joke with the audience that during IBMA at least, this was NOT the case.

Zoe and Cloyd are using the IBMA’s annual event to release their third album, “I Am Your Neighbor,” on Friday, Sept. 27, on Organic Records. 

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MerleFest’s Chris Austin Songwriting Contest accepting entries for 2020 festival beginning Oct. 1

WILKESBORO, NORTH CAROLINA — MerleFest, presented by Window World, will begin accepting entries for the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest (CASC) on Wednesday, Oct. 1, according to a press release.

CASC is one of the most acclaimed songwriting contests in roots and Americana music and has a reputation for launching careers as well as drawing attention to important new talent. The contest is split into four genre-based categories including bluegrass, general, gospel, and country. First through third place winners will be chosen in each category at MerleFest 2020, set to take place on April 23 – 26, 2020.

MerleFest is an annual homecoming of musicians and music fans on the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro. First-tier tickets for MerleFest 2020 will go on sale on Nov. 12, with Tier 2 pricing beginning Feb. 17, 2020, and Tier 3 pricing beginning April 23, 2020.

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Kruger Brothers’ Carolina in the Fall festival hits its stride in year five

The Kruger Brothers own homegrown music festival, Carolina in the Fall Music & Food Festival, has been on the rise ever since it received IBMA’s Momentum Award and this year is no exception.

In addition to the Kruger Brothers, festival goers will have the chance to hear Balsam Range; Chatham County Line; The Black Lillies; EmiSunshine; Hawktail; Trout Steak Revival; Scott Mulvahill; Cicada Rhythm; The Contenders; The Honey Dewdrops; Baucom & Jones; Williamson Branch; Hank, Pattie & The Current; Zoe & Cloyd; Red Wine; Newberry & Verch; Presley Barker; Lateral Blue; Nikki Talley; Thurler-Mosimann Project; Carly Bannister, S. Grant Parker and Jac Thompson; The Burnett Sisters; Cane Mill Road; Back Porch Bluegrass Band; Shay Martin Lovette; Alex Key & The Locksmiths; and Bob and Roberta Kogut.

Check out the official press release below and learn more at

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Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas, I’m With Her, Balsam Range, Molly Tuttle, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, Del McCoury among headliners at Wide Open Bluegrass 2019

From the good folks over at the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA):

NASHVILLE — ​Organizers ​of this year’s ​PNC presents Wide Open Bluegrass on Sept. 27-28 i​n downtown ​Raleigh, North Carolina, ​have announced the full list of performers, and performance schedules, for the annual festival.

The free Wide Open Bluegrass festival – part of the I​nternational Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA)’s ​five-day ​World of Bluegrass ​event,​​ sponsored by ​Chiesi USA​ – brings bluegrass into the community, and introduces the music to thousands of new fans every year, with more than 100 performers on seven stages along Fayetteville Street.

Performers include a broad mix of local, national, and international talent. Stages include the Youth Music Stage – situated on the outdoor plaza at the Convention Center – and the Dance Tent, which features clogging performances, participatory square dances, and late-night open dancing Friday and Saturday nights.

In addition to the seven stages of Wide Open Bluegrass, performances at Raleigh’s Red Hat Amphitheater will be open to the public for free, as well, subject to venue capacity. A limited number of reserved seats in prime sections of the venue are still available for purchase, to ensure admittance for every performance. More details about the festival can be found online at, or on the festival app, available for free download via your app store.

PNC returns, for the seventh year, as the presenting sponsor for the two-day Wide Open Bluegrass festival: “PNC’s support of Wide Open Bluegrass allows festival goers free access to all stages and makes this festival even more special,” said Jim Hansen, PNC regional president of Eastern Carolinas. “As the presenting sponsor for the seven years that Raleigh has hosted Wide Open Bluegrass, we are pleased that this event has become a flagship music festival and adds to our vibrant cultural scene. We at PNC look forward to celebrating a great weekend of bluegrass in downtown Raleigh.” Continue reading

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Pickin’ in the Pines returns to Koka Booth Amphitheatre on Wednesdays in September with New Reveille, Andrew Duhon

CARY, NORTH CAROLINA — Pickin’ in the Pines returns to the Koka Booth Amphitheatre on Wednesday, Sept. 4, with New Reveille and Andrew Duhon.

Shows will take place on Wednesday evenings in September and early October featuring local and regional talent from 5:45 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

All seating and music will take place on the spacious Crescent Deck creating a casual and comfortable environment to enjoy a mid-week outing with friends.

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