Bluegrass Music

A photo of the North Carolina band Balsam Range
Courtesy of Balsalm Range

The National Folk Festival gets underway in Greensboro on Friday night, marking the three-day festival's second year in the Triad. 

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.

Sarah Jarosz
Scott Simontacchi / All Eyes Media

Virtuoso Sarah Jarosz, 25, has released her latest project, "Undercurrent."  It's her fourth album, despite only just recently graduating from the New England Conservatory of Music.

Becky Buller won three IBMA awards this year for emerging artist, songwriter of the year and recorded event of the year.
Becky Buller

Becky Buller has tried her hand at almost every part of the bluegrass music industry.

She is a prolific songwriter whose compositions have been recorded by musicians like Ricky Skaggs; she produced for and toured with Valerie Smith; she co-hosts a bluegrass music show; and she has released two solo records.

Balsam Range won 'Song of the Year' and 'Vocal Group of the Year' at this year's IBMA awards.
Courtest of Laughing Penguin Publicity

Balsam Range is a bluegrass band with the accolades to show for it.

The Haywood County quintet won two awards at this year’s IBMA awards: "Song of the Year" and "Vocal Group of the Year." The group was nominated for six IBMA Awards this year. The band’s fifth studio album, Five, combines traditional bluegrass and gospel with songs about home and hard times.

The Steel Wheels are an Americana roots band from Virginia featuring (L-R) Brian Dickel on bass, Trent Wagler on guitar and banjo, Eric Brubaker on fiddle and Jay Lapp on mandolin.
RubySky Photography

The Steel Wheels are an Americana roots band from Virginia taking influences from old-time and traditional string band music. Though they might look and sound like a bluegrass band to the average listener, The Steel Wheels do not consider themselves to be a bluegrass group.  Nonetheless they are bringing their music to the International Bluegrass Music Association’s festival in Raleigh for the second time.

An image of bluegrass group Chatham County Line
Yep Roc Music Group

The summer is wrapping up, but the bluegrass does not have to stop just yet. Chatham County Line and the Jeanne Jolly Trio take the stage Thursday, September 10 for the final Back Porch Music on the Lawn concert. The free concert is open to the public and kicks off at 6 p.m. on the American Tobacco Campus lawn in Durham.

An image of Mipso
Rebecca Martinez / WUNC

Mipso's new album Old Time Reverie soars with the group's sharp bluegrass composition and lilting harmonies. It also delivers complex and nuanced songwriting, strengthening Mipso's craft as storytellers.

The band has been on the road for most of the last two years since the release of their last album Dark Holler Pop, venturing further away from their origin days as college students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This process of growing up is reflected in "Everyone Knows," featuring fiddler Libby Rodenbough.

An image of the band Goodnight, Texas
Sideways Media

Patrick Dyer Wolf is from Chapel Hill. Avi Vinocur is from San Francisco. The musicians' hometowns are separated by almost 3,000 miles, but right in the middle is Goodnight, Texas. It is a small town of 28 people and the namesake of the duo's musical partnership.

An image of mandolin player Jeff Austin
Dorothy St. Claire Photography

The Back Porch Music on the Lawn series rolls on Thursday, June 30  with a mandolin player igniting a bluegrass group, along with a slick banjo and violin duo.

Image of Joe Troop on the left and Diego Sanchez on the right, who play together to form an acoustic world music sound.
Joe Troop

When North Carolina native Joe Troop first moved to Argentina, he hoped to learn about Argentine culture. The musician had an interest in the lives, beliefs and music of Argentinean people.

And as a bluegrass musician, he thought the best way to jump into the scene was to start a band. He looked online for a local who could play the banjo and he found Diego Sanchez.

  

A picture of recordings at the SFC
Steven Weiss / Southern Folklife Collection

McCabe’s Guitar Shop in Santa Monica, CA has seen more than 1,600 musicians perform in the store. Those live performances have produced thousands of recordings documenting the livelihood of folk music for the past 45 years.

A picture of the Gravy Boys
Christer Berg

[[Follow WUNC on Twitter for updates about this concert. There's rain and thunderstorms in the forecast.]]

The sweltering summer heat isn't going to stop the tunes from flowin' and the people from dancin' at the next Back Porch Music On the Lawn Concert on Thursday, June 25.

The show will feature the Gravy Boys performing acoustic Americana. Alice Gerrard and the Piedmont Melody Makers will open with new and traditional bluegrass and string-band music.

The IBMA's new Exeutive Director Paul Schiminger.
Rebecca Martinez / WUNC

The International Bluegrass Music Association has announced the lineup of artists that will play the World of Bluegrass festival this fall.

Allison Krauss and Union Station Featuring Jerry Douglas will headline the event. It'll be held in Raleigh for the second year in a row. The Sam Bush band will also perform.

Paul Schiminger is the new Executive Director of the IBMA.

Schiminger says says Raleigh was very accommodating to festival goers last year.

An image of Jim White playing foosball with the Packway Handle Band
Yep Roc Music Group

The 2015 Back Porch Music on the Lawn concert series is underway, and continues to heat up tonight with plenty of banjo pickin' and foot-stompin' from Jim White vs. the Packway Handle Band.

Darren Hanlon opens the evening festivities with amiable acoustic folk rock.

The free concert kicks off at 6 p.m. on the American Tobacco Campus lawn in Durham.

Jon Stickley Trio
Jon Stickley Trio

Durham native Jon Stickley has jumped around from Indy rock bands to renowned bluegrass groups like Big Fat Gap and Town Mountain.

But he's found another musical home in Asheville with his newest creation, the Jon Stickley Trio. 

Jon has combined his experience with rock, bluegrass and Americana with two other talented musicians who have classical and hip-hop backgrounds.

An image of Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz of Mandolin Orange
Alex Loops

 

Chapel Hill musicians Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz have been busy the past year touring as the folk duo Mandolin Orange. But all roads lead back home for the pair.

 

Their new album, Such Jubilee, is a celebration of home and a revered tribute to the places and people they cherish.

Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn
MerleFest

The beat of hundreds stomping their feet to the southern sounds of MerleFest returns this weekend. The annual festival starts this Thursday in Wilkesboro and brings three days and four nights of folk and bluegrass music back to the foothills of North Carolina.

 

Josh Oliver is playing tonight at The ArtsCenter in Carrboro.
Logan Wentworth

Musician Josh Oliver was a very shy performer for most of his life. Growing up in eastern Tennessee he often heard hymns and traditional music in his church, but he never liked singing very much.

That all changed when he decided to study music at East Tennessee State University. In the music program, his instructors had him performing solos and writing music for himself.

Host Frank Stasio talks with Oliver about his career and Oliver performs music from his latest solo album, Part of My Life.

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

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Image of banjo hero Carroll Best.
Courtesy of Louise Best

In the 1930s, the National Park Service sent a man named Joseph Hall to the Great Smoky Mountains to document the life and stories of people who were about to be relocated so that it could become a national park