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

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.

Ricky Skaggs holding mandolin / Ricky Skaggs

Ricky Skaggs was just five years old when he first got his hands on a mandolin. Many boys in small town Kentucky were playing the guitar or the fiddle, but not the mandolin. With a rich and varied career in bluegrass and country, Skaggs is known for that masterful mandolin sound. 

The Steep Canyon Rangers


2013 has been a huge year for the western North Carolina bluegrass band Steep Canyon Rangers. The band released a new album “Tell The Ones I Love,” won a Grammy award for “Best Bluegrass Album,”  and toured with actor Steve Martin. 

Greensky Bluegrass
J. Van Butler / J. Van Butler

Greensky Bluegrass is one of more than 50 bands coming to Raleigh this week for the Wide Open Bluegrass Festival. The Michigan group’s hybrid sound draws on the influence of rock ‘n roll and jam bands. The multidimensionality of their music gives them a mainstream music fan base beyond the bluegrass scene. Greensky Bluegrass is Dave Bruzza, Anders Beck, Mike Devol, Mike Bont, and Paul Hoffman. 

IBMA World of Bluegrass in Raleigh

The World of Bluegrass festival is in its last few days in Raleigh. Music journalist Craig Havighurst is back one last time to talk about the event.  He's a triangle native who now hosts a music roots show from Nashville.  He's also a board member of the International Bluegrass Music Association, the group that puts on the festival every year.

Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver
Keith Weston / WUNC

Last night a few hours after the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences had closed for the evening, a series of banjos, fiddles and mandolins paraded past the smiling security officers into an area set aside as a sort of "green room." Musicians from the World of Bluegrass festival put on by the IBMA dropped by WUNC's newly opened studios in the museum for an evening of pickin' and singin'.

Balsam Range
Balsam Range

In the winter of 2007, five Haywood county bluegrass musicians got together for an informal jam session. Out of that collaboration, the band Balsam Range was born. They are nominated in six different categories for the International Bluegrass Music Awards including Entertainer of the Year and Song of the Year. They will play at Merlefest showcase as part of the Wide Open Bluegrass Festival in Raleigh this afternoon and the Awards show this evening.

IBMA World of Bluegrass in Raleigh

Raleigh is in the middle of the World of Bluegrass festival. Craig Havighurst returns to talk with WUNC's Eric Hodge about the event.  Havighurst is a music journalist who has contributed to NPR and the Wall Street Jounral.  He produces a music roots show in Nashville and is a Triangle native.  He's also a board member of the International Bluegrass Music Association, which puts on the festival.

Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver
Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver

The World of Bluegrass event is underway in Raleigh.  It's the first year the five-day convention has come to the Triangle after having a home in Nashville for eight years, and it's a place for musicians, agents and music lovers to hear the best of Bluegrass every year.

IBMA World of Bluegrass in Raleigh

The number of banjos, mandolins and fiddles has skyrocketed in Raleigh this week as the IBMA bluegrass conference and musical event comes to town. 

The "World of Bluegrass" is an annual business conference, awards show, and multi-day concert series put on by the International Bluegrass Music Association. Raleigh hosts this year's event, and will be the host city through 2015. Last year's gathering in Nashville drew more than 13,000 attendees.

WUNC Updates During IBMA

Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver
Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver

Update: Hear the broadcast Wednesday night, September 25, 8-10 p.m. on WUNC and WAMU Bluegrass Country.

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

The International Bluegrass Music Association's 2013 award ceremony isn't coming to Raleigh until mid-September, but the excitement has already made it to town. Fans gathered at three viewing parties Wednesday night for live announcements of the IMBA Award nominees. 

The band Many Nights Ahead performs on The State of Things.

Out of the Shenandoah Valley, Many Nights Ahead is a young 7-member bluegrass band looking to grow. Their music is influenced by the Shenandoah Valley and their backgrounds in genres such as blues and metal. 

Alice Gerrard is a staple of the Triangle music scene.
Irene Young

Alice Gerrard is a legend in the world of bluegrass, inspiring many musical greats, including The Judds. But it’s only on her latest production, “Bittersweet,” that she is releasing an entire album of all-original songs for the first time. Host Frank Stasio talks to Alice Gerrard in the studio, and she plays live.

Town Mountain
Jason Beverly /

Last year, Town Mountain released their album Leave the Bottle.  On WNCW’s “Top 100 of 2012” list, the  Asheville-based bluegrass band's album earned the #19 spot. 

Town Mountain is playing tonight in Raleigh at The Pour House Music Hall.  The band joins Frank Stasio today in the studio to tell us about themselves and play a few songs.

Listen to their song "Come Break My Heart."


Organizers of the World of Bluegrass are gearing up for their inaugural year in North Carolina's capital.  They've announced many of the acts and events that will highlight the festival later this year. 

Grammy-winner Alison Krauss will join Steve Martin and North Carolina's own Steep Canyon Rangers as featured performers.  North Carolina bands like the Grass Cats and Lorraine Jordan and Carolina Road will also take center stage at several venues at what's being called the "Wide Open Bluegrass Festival".

But it's not just about the music.


Nov 2, 2012

The band of three young men and one young woman used to call themselves Mipso Trio.

Now they go by Mipso after adding a fiddler. They recently released their first full length CD and they spent the summer traveling and learning new forms of music. Mipso plays Cat's Cradle Saturday night, but first they stop in to chat with guest host Isaac Davy-Aronson and play some tunes.

Vince Gill
Durham Performing Arts Center

Country legend Vince Gill plays the Durham Performing Arts Center this Sunday night. After nearly 20 records, 14 Grammys and a truckload of Country Music Association Awards, he's back playing bluegrass again. And Gill tells WUNC's Eric Hodge it feels right to be doing it in North Carolina.

Doc Watson
Sugar Hill Records

Musician Doc Watson died on Tuesday. The 89 year old guitarist from Deep Gap, North Carolina, had been in a Winston-Salem hospital recovering from a fall and other ailments. Watson was an iconic North Carolina musician, he broke new ground in bluegrass, country and gospel. His legacy has fueled a generation of musicians.

Doc Watson: In the summer of 1934, papa made my first musical instrument, a little five string fretless banjo and he played me a tune on it.

North Carolina will host the best in Bluegrass music in a capital city festival starting next year.

Be sure to tune in Christmas night at 6 for a special edition of the program Last Motel when host Eric Hodge and will be joined by the band Chatham County Line. They're a bluegrass-inspired band that has spent the last couple weeks criss-crossing North Carolina and Georgia with a holiday concert series.