Musings on folk, Americana, country, bluegrass and newgrass

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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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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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Sam Bush Band, Hank and Pattie Duo rock Cat’s Cradle

Sam Bush loves North Carolina. And gauging from the roar of the appreciative crowd of some 200 souls gathered at the Cat’s Cradle live music venue in downtown Carrboro on Saturday night, North Carolina loves Sam Bush and company, and in this particular instance, the Sam Bush Band.

“It don’t get no better than to play in North Carolina,” Bush said from the stage.

His fans agree. “As always, Sam and band were amazing,” commented Rick Henderson of Raleigh. “No two shows are the same, but they’re all terrific.” Continue reading

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Hot Rize announces 40th anniversary album recorded live at Boulder Theatre releases first single ‘Colleen Malone’ featuring Jerry Douglas via Relix

From the good folks at The Press House:

Hot Rize, one of the most respected and influential bands in bluegrass music, is pleased to announce the release of their aptly named new record Hot Rize 40th Anniversary Bash, recorded live at Boulder Theatre, over the course of three sold out shows in January of this year. Hot Rize (Nick Forster on bass, Pete Wernick on banjo, Tim O’Brien on mandolin and fiddle, and Bryan Sutton on guitar) were joined by longtime musical friends Jerry Douglas, Stuart Duncan, and Sam Bush, treating Boulder to three nights of unforgettable music. “We wanted to have a party,” says Forster.  “We wanted to have a full-out bash!” And now, on August 3rd, celebrating the anniversary of the band’s 40th year together, fans worldwide are musically invited to the party, as the band selecting 19 of the best of those unforgettable performances for the new record. On Monday, Relixreleased the video for “Colleen Malone,” Wernick commenting that he “ …learned this touching and lyrical song from the writer himself, Pete Goble, on his bus one day at a festival in the 1980s. The band liked it right away and our version became Song of the Year in 1991. It already seems to have become a standard at bluegrass jam sessions.” Watch here.

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Listen Up: Live music opportunities abound for Memorial Day 2018

There are numerous live music festivals and venues throughout North Carolina, Virginia and beyond on tap to help you celebrate the official kickoff of summer over the upcoming Memorial Day holiday weekend. Following are a few highlights. If I’ve missed one, let me know! Continue reading

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Early bird ticket discounts available for MerleFest 2018 through Wednesday, April 25

From the good folks over at MerleFest:
With just one week until MerleFest 2018, the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, North Carolina, is buzzing with activity. The festival, presented by Window World, kicks off next Thursday, April 26, at 2:30 p.m., and runs through Sunday, April 29; an estimated 75,000-plus participants will gather at this year’s annual homecoming of musicians and music lovers to celebrate the world renowned MerleFest.

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Third annual Jam in the Trees to feature diverse lineup including The Travelin’ McCourys, Jerry Douglas, Shooter Jennings and Elizabeth Cook on Aug. 24-25

From the good folks over at The Press House and Jam In The Trees:
Jam In The Trees is proud to announce the lineup for the 2018 festival, which will be held on August 24-25, 2018. The annual music festival returns with a diverse lineup for the third year to Pisgah Brewing Company in Black Mountain, North Carolina.
The roster includes legendary artists The Travelin’ McCourys, Jerry Douglas, Shooter Jennings, Elizabeth Cook, Jane Kramer, Gangstagrass, The Stray Birds, Jim Lauderdale, The Steel Wheels, Fireside Collective, The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys, The Slocan Ramblers, and Andy Buckner. Following tradition, Jam in the Trees will host music on both an indoor and outdoor stage, and will strategically schedule artists so that there are no overlapping sets. In addition to award-winning Pisgah beer, food trucks will be present on-site, as well as unique vendors and local artisans.

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