Posts Tagged ‘Earl Scruggs’

This year and last, we’ve been thrilled to host the International Bluegrass Music Association’s annual meeting and music festival in Raleigh. Seeing the breadth of talent in the genre today and the massive number of people interested in a form of music that has strong ties to the western part of our state has truly been amazing.

So, now that you’ve been to (or at least heard of) IBMA and bluegrass, you’re probably wondering what more there is to explore. The answer is simple: a lot.

To get you started here are six Tar Heel bluegrass destinations and events you won’t want to miss:

1. The Earl Scruggs Center, Shelby, Cleveland County


Named in honor of bluegrass legend and Cleveland County native Earl Scruggs, this spectacular museum opened to wide acclaim earlier this year and explores Scruggs and the roots of the music genre he came to dominate.

2. Red, White and Bluegrass, Morganton, Burke County


Held annualy on the Fourth of July, there’s no better way to celebrate our nation’s birthday than at this festival, one of North Carolina’s largest music events.

3. The Mount Airy Bluegrass and Old-Time Fiddlers Convention, Mount Airy, Surry County


One of the more significant of the music festivals held in the Blue Ridge area every summer, this convention celebrates the fame Surry County musicians have achieved throughout the nation.

4. MerleFest, Wilkesboro, Wilkes County


One of the nation’s premiere music events, this annual festival honors Watauga County bluegrass stars Doc and Merle Watson and draws nearly 75,000 attendees each year.

5. Yadkin Valley Bluegrass Convention, Yadkinville, Yakdin County

A throwback to the more traditional, smaller music contests of yesteryear, this annual event has become a favorite among bluegrass and old-time music fans and musicians alike.

6The BarnEden, Rockingham County


Not many people create a music venue in their front yard, but that’s exactly what Jerry and Debbie Wilson did just a few years ago. Stop by on any Tuesday night to see and hear bluegrass and gospel bands play in the Wilsons’ barn.

These six places and events are just a few tips to get you started exploring the Old North State’s rich bluegrass culture and heritage. Pick up a copy of the Blue Ridge Music Trails of North Carolina, produced by the N.C. Arts Council and Blue Ridge National Heritage Area, or check out the book’s companion website for more great ideas.

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Despite the not-so-friendly skies outside, Sec. Susan Kluttz joined a large crowd of people from 13 different states to dedicate a new museum to banjo innovator Earl Scruggs in Shelby in early January.

The Cleveland County native and famous bluegrass musician is perhaps best known for his unique three-finger picking style and for elevating the banjo from a rhythm instrument to a lead instrument. Today, the banjo is played all over the world, and its popularity can be traced back to Earl Scruggs and North Carolina.

The N.C. Department of Cultural Resources was a key partner in the project, collaborating with local partners in bringing the Earl Scruggs Center to fruition. Staff from the N.C. Arts Council assisted in developing an exhibit plan, funding parts of the permanent exhibit and providing leads for fundraising. The Historic Preservation Office also advised on how to renovate the courthouse, which is home to the museum, so that it retains its historical character.

Perhaps most importantly, the Arts Council continues to promote the Earl Scruggs Center through its Blue Ridge Music Trails of North Carolina cultural tourism initiative. The initiative, which was developed in tandem with Blue Ridge National Heritage Area, holds the Earl Scruggs Center up as one of its key venues. Click here to learn more about the Blue Ridge Music Trails guidebook and companion web component.

You can also read more about Scruggs’s life here and learn more about the new museum and its opening festivities here.

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