Bluegrass

Photo of Curly Seckler and Charlie Monroe
Curly Seckler

Curly Seckler grew up a farming kid in the tiny town of China Grove, NC and liked to listen to the Monroe Brothers on the radio.

Eventually, he became one of the forebearers of bluegrass music as a part of the Foggy Mountain Boys. Seckler's iconic mandolin style and tenor harmonies carved a music career that spanned more than 50 years.

Tara Linhardt plays with Nepali musicians
Tara Linhardt

Nepal and Appalachia are on opposite ends of the Earth, but their musical traditions show striking parallels. Bluegrass musician Tara Linhardt traveled with friends, her mandolin and camera around the Nepali countryside to find and play alongside musicians preserving the country's folk traditions. The result is a musical fusion of two worlds usually separated by cultural and geographic barriers.

An image of North Carolina 'Welcome Sign'
J. Stephen Conn / Flickr Creative Commons

 

North Carolina has much to offer newcomers. From the coast to mountains and everything in between, the state is a place for food, fun and plenty of adventure. Where is the best barbeque? What is that accent? Who are the stars of bluegrass?

 

Below find five stories that highlight the Tar Heel state’s distinguishing qualities. And even if you’ve lived in North Carolina your entire life, take a look at the list of some of your state’s gems.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Justin Johnson playing cigar box guitar
Justin Johnson Music

  

North Carolina Musician Justin Johnson has always been drawn to stringed instruments. Starting with the beat up, one-string Stella guitar his mother handed down to him, Justin has played music with any band that would take him.

So when he was handed a homemade cigar box guitar at a show a few years ago, he was instantly drawn to the sound and feel of the unique instrument. Ever since, he's been making and collecting homemade instruments to play on the road.

Guitarist and vocalist Russell Moore leads IIIrd Tyme Out at a WUNC Raleigh Concert
Carol Jackson

Russell Moore's bluegrass career has included a stretch as a member of Doyle Lawson's Quicksilver band and as the leader of IIIrd Tyme Out since 1991. Born in Texas, he moved to North Carolina and later Georgia to follow his bluegrass dreams. Moore has been named IBMA Vocalist of the Year five times and the band has claimed Vocal Group of the Year seven consecutive times.

WUNC Back Porch Music host Freddy Jenkins introduces Joe Mullins and The Radio Ramblers at the Museum of Natural Sciences, Raleigh
Carol Jackson

Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers' ramblings brought them to Raleigh during the IBMA World of Bluegrass in October. Just as the bluegrass gala was kicking off JMRR joined three other bands at a WUNC event at the Museum of Natural Sciences in downtown Raleigh.

The Spinney Brothers at the Museum of Natural Sciecnes
Carol Jackson

Allan and Rick Spinney were born in Ontario, Canada, in the mid 1960s. Even that far north, the sound of southern bluegrass and country music caught fire, especially with Allan, at an early age.

Nick Vandenberg is a Chapel Hill musician (posing outside the Durham studios).
Hady Mawajdeh (WUNC)

Nick Vandenberg  is a man of many talents. 

Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper warming up prior to their performance.
Carol Jackson

It was a grand night for banjos and fiddles and song. On Wednesday October 1, 2014, during Raleigh's Wide Open Bluegrass event, WUNC hosted four bands on the Daily Planet stage at the Museum of Natural Sciences.

North Carolina-based Balsam Range raked in the second-most nominations for IBMA Awards Wednesday night.
Balsam Range

  

The World of Bluegrass festival wraps up this weekend in Raleigh. One of the highlights of the five-day convention is the International Bluegrass Music Association awards ceremony which took place last night.

North Carolina band Balsam Range took home three statues, including the award for Entertainer of the Year.

Host Frank Stasio talks with Tim White, host of the bluegrass and roots music show “Song of the Mountains” on PBS, about the awards and final days of the World of Bluegrass festival.

Host Frank Stasio and Béla Fleck prepare for their conversation.
Hady Mawajdeh (WUNC)

  

 The relentless Béla Fleck is known for taking his banjo on a wide array of sonic journeys. 

Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper warming up prior to their performance.
Carol Jackson

Concurrently with the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) week-long World of Bluegrass, WUNC produced a special live broadcast with WAMU's Bluegrass Country in Washington, D.C. The program was hosted by Katy Daley of WAMU's Bluegrass Country and featured exclusive performances from three IBMA Award nominees:

IBMA World of Bluegrass 2014
IBMA

The World of Bluegrass festival is rambling through North Carolina this week.

The rising stars and veterans of bluegrass from around the world are in Raleigh. It’s all part of the International Bluegrass Music Association’s annual convention, which moved to Raleigh last year.

Host Frank Stasio talks with IBMA board member Craig Havighurst, who hosts a radio program called “Music City Roots” from Nashville and has contributed to NPR and the Wall Street Journal.

Image of Marko Čermák is considered the father of Czech Bluegrass.
Lee Bidgood

People in the Czech Republic first heard bluegrass music during World War II when Western music was hard to access in the sphere of Soviet influence. 

Sierra Hull
Delman

    

The International Bluegrass Music Association’s World of Bluegrass festival features dozens of the world’s most talented bluegrass artists.

Mandolin player Sierra Hull has been nominated for seven IBMA awards in the last four years. This year, she got her eighth nomination. She’s up for instrumental performer of the year in the mandolin category.

Hull is also one of the youngest performers at the World of Bluegrass, but young does not mean inexperienced. She signed her first record deal at age 13 and has been playing professionally for 10 years.

A picture of three banjos.
plenty.r / flickr

Fans of bluegrass music are in Raleigh this week for the World of Bluegrass Festival and conference. 

The gathering is organized by the Nashville-based International Bluegrass Music Association.  The event is part business conference, part music festival.  

Nancy Cardwell is the IBMA's Executive Director.  She said some of the world's finest musicians are in attendance, too.

Chatham County Line
http://www.chathamcountyline.com/

The world's premier bluegrass music event is all this week in Raleigh. The International Bluegrass Music Association's annual gathering and Festival used to be in Nashville but moved to Raleigh a year ago.  

Tens of thousands of people attended last year and city officials say visitors spent more than $10 million on food, hotels and entertainment.    

The organization has since decided to put down roots and committed to holding the event in Raleigh for the next six years.  

MIpso performed to a packed house at American Tobacco, 8/27/2014
Taylor Sharp / via Twitter
10-year-old Casey Valleroy, host Frank Stasio, and 14-year-old Logan Valleroy
Carol Jackson / WUNC

Note: This is a rebroadcast of a show that aired June 6, 2014.

Logan and Casey Valleroy have years of experience playing nine different instruments. The years of musical experience are impressive since they have a combined total of 24 years of life.

The duo known as The Bucket Brothers has released three albums, played live with members of big-name local bands like The Old Ceremony and the Squirrel Nut Zippers, and they haven’t even entered high school yet.

    

The Appalachian Mountains of Western North Carolina are the center of a rich history of music and dance, from musicians like Doc Watson and Earl Scruggs, to traditions like ballad singing and square dancing. 

10-year-old Casey Valleroy, host Frank Stasio, and 14-year-old Logan Valleroy
Carol Jackson / WUNC

  

Logan and Casey Valleroy have years of experience playing nine different instruments.

The years of musical experience are impressive since they have a combined total of 24 years of life.

The duo known as The Bucket Brothers has released three albums, played live with members of big-name local bands like The Old Ceremony and the Squirrel Nut Zippers, and they haven’t even entered high school yet.

Chatham County Line On A "Tightrope"

May 30, 2014
Chatham County Line
http://www.chathamcountyline.com/

Bluegrass group Chatham County Line may hail from Raleigh, but their rich acoustic sound has no borders. The group has two chart-topping records in Norway, but stays true to their North Carolina roots on their new album,Tightrope

Chatham County Line
Michael Podrid / Yep Roc Records

“There’s a lot of growing up in this record,” says vocalist/guitarist Dave Wilson.

“We’re maturing in this world and seeing things through a different set of eyes – and that materializes in a lot of these songs.”

Chatham County Line is celebrating the release of their latest album, Tightrope from Yep Roc Records. The foursome stopped into the WUNC  studios to talk with Eric Hodge.

The interview begins with this song: Any Port in a Storm.

Fiddler Bobby Hicks
Eric Mennel / WUNC

Bobby Hicks had no intention of playing fiddle as a kid. He was playing mandolin in a band with his brothers when one of them asked for some help.

"My brother had a friend he wanted in the band, but he couldn't play anything," said Hicks. "So he talked me into teaching him to play the mandolin, and then they fired me."

It was to all our benefit.

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