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Musings on folk, Americana, country, bluegrass and newgrass


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Women poised to dominate 2018 International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) awards

In 2017, Hazel Dickens and Alice Gerrard were inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Hall of Fame. With the exception of women who were part of a band, and usually a family band, ie. the famous Carter Family, who were inducted in 2001, only one other woman — Louise Scruggs in 2010 — has received solo recognition by the hall of fame organizers since 1991. And this week, songwriter Dixie Hall will be inducted as the fourth.

Let’s face it. Bluegrass has been a good old boys genre since Bill Monroe picked up a mandolin, Louise’s husband Earl Scruggs met Lester Flatt and the Stanley Brothers became the Clinch Mountain Boys. But as Bob Dylan once wrote, “the times they are a changin.'”

Fast forward to 2016, when Sierra Hull and Becky Buller became the first women to win Instrumental Performers of the Year awards for mandolin and fiddle, respectively. Hull came out on top in the same category in 2017, and Molly Tuttle, who appears poised to be among the next female superstars of bluegrass, won Instrumental Performer of the Year for her guitar picking prowess — the first woman to ever top that particular chart. Continue reading


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North Carolina Folk Festival set for Sept. 7-9, 2018, in Greensboro to feature Rhiannon Giddens, Amythyst Kiah

The North Carolina Folk Festival is a free, three-day outdoor celebration of cultural roots and heritage held annually in downtown Greensboro, North Carolina. The folk festival is a legacy event of the National Folk Festival which was hosted in Greensboro from 2015 – 2017.

Performers include hometown girl Rhiannon Giddens, co-founder of the Carolina Chocolate Drops and star of CMT’s “Nashville;” Amythyst Kiah, Cabin Creek Boys and Bobby Hicks, Mark Kuykendall and Asheville Bluegrass. Continue reading


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Steep Canyon Rangers, the New Ballards Branch Bogtrotters return to Blue Ridge Music Center on Saturday, June 14

From the good folks over at the Blue Ridge Music Center, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway near Galax, Virgnia:
The Steep Canyon Rangers are perennial favorites at the Blue Ridge Music Center and fans look forward to their annual show. Playing together since 2000, the the group has developed a sound all their own. Combining original songs, traditional tunes, and a whole lot of fun in their shows, they received IBMA’s Entertainer of the Year Award in 2011 as well as a Grammy Award for Best Bluegrass Album in 2013. Their dynamic live performances include a great deal of humor and playfulness.  With tight harmonies and instrumental dexterity, the band plays bluegrass and beyond, incorporating elements of folk, country, Americana and pop music to create a unique take on their “traditional plus” sound. As they approach their second decade, the Steep Canyon Rangers are still moving forward, searching for new horizons and musical vistas.
With their hard-driving old-time rhythm, the New Ballards Branch Bogtrotters are a favorite among flatfoot dancers and mountain fiddle music fans. The group takes its name from the original Ballards Branch Bogtrotters, a popular Galax string band during the 1930s that was a frequent winner in the early years of the Galax Old Fiddlers’ Convention.

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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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Ten fresh faces you won’t want to miss at MerleFest 2018

For years I have discovered some of my favorite artists — Scythian, Mandolin Orange, Front Country, Tift Merritt, Carolina Chocolate Drops and Rhiannon Giddens, just to mention a few — at MerleFest. And this year it appears the good folks at MerleFest has upped the ante on finding some new favorites with its announcement of “10 Fresh Faces to Catch at MerleFest:”

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Steep Canyon Rangers with Steve Martin, Jim Lauderdale, Buddy Miller, Jerry Douglas and We Banjo 3 added to MerleFest 2018 lineup

From the good folks over at MerleFest:
WILKESBORO, NORTH CAROLINA – MerleFest, presented by Window World and slated for April 26 – 29, is proud to announce new additions to the 2018 lineup including Steep Canyon Rangers and Friends with special guest Steve Martin, Jim Lauderdale, Buddy Miller and the North Mississippi Allstars, Jerry Douglas and Tommy Emmanuel, The Jerry Douglas Band with special guest John Medeski, Si Kahn & Joe Jencks, We Banjo 3, and The Cleverlys. The annual homecoming of musicians and music fans returns to the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, North Carolina.
MerleFest has already announced more than 90 artists for 2018, including Kris Kristofferson, Jamey Johnson, Rodney Crowell, Rhiannon Giddens, Elephant Revival, The Devil Makes Three, a Midnight Jam hosted by Town Mountain and Jim Lauderdale, and many more. The deadline and last day for purchasing Early Bird Tier 1 tickets is Feb. 18.

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