Bluegrass Music Across North Carolina

Bluegrass Music Across North Carolina

Thursday night bluegrass jam at Zuma Coffee in Marshall

The music traditions that led to bluegrass have rung out in the North Carolina mountains for hundreds of years. With Raleigh’s selection as host of the International Bluegrass Music Association’s World of Bluegrass this September, music lovers have more reason than ever to experience this living legacy in cities, towns and tiny communities across the state.

Start mapping your journey with this sampling of settings.

Mount Airy
WPAQ AM’s Merry Go-Round  has run longer than any other live radio show except the Grand Ole Opry. Visit this music-rich town for the pre-show jam and stay for the taping every Saturday morning. Another live radio option: WKBC AM’s monthly Hometown Opry  in North Wilkesboro.

The John C. Campbell Folk School has tended to mountain traditions since 1925. Here, you can learn to play – or even make – a banjo or resonator guitar (Dobro), work on your fiddle and mandolin licks, test your skills in ensemble performance or just enjoy the music at the school’s Friday night concerts.

At sundown on Saturdays during the summer, bluegrass pickers, string bands, dancers and other performers assemble in Pack Square Park downtown for Shindig on the Green. Also in Asheville, Jack of the Wood holds jams (old-time Wednesday, bluegrass Thursday), the Asheville Event Centre stages the Blue Ridge Opry dinner show on Tuesdays, and The Grey Eagle and other venues include bluegrass in the mix. Down the road in Fletcher, Feed & Seed offers lively performances every weekend.

In another era Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs, Bill Monroe and the Carter Family performed at Stecoah Union School. In its new life as the Stecoah Valley Cultural Arts Center, the stone building presents the latest generation of greats in summer’s Appalachian Evening series. Dine in the Schoolhouse Cafe before the show.

Spruce Pine
The Orchard at Altapass tends to heirloom apples while nurturing mountain culture. Live bands perform bluegrass, ballads, country and other styles Wednesday through Sunday afternoons. Hayrides, storytelling and nature walks are also part of the Altapass experience. And down the road toward Burnsville, Young’s Mountain Music is a top-notch Saturday night destination.

Granite Falls
Enjoy two traditions in one at Sims Country Bar-B-Que, which sets out a buffet of pit-cooked pork, beef and chicken every Friday and Saturday night. Old-time and bluegrass are the musical specialty of the house, and there’s room on the dance floor for flatfooting or two-stepping.

The old-fashioned community dance lives on at the Alleghany Jubilee, presented every Tuesday and Saturday in a 1930s theater. Ernest Joines, who co-owns the Jubilee with wife Agnes, performs with some of the bands that make music for dancing.

Zuma Coffee’s Thursday night bluegrass jam has become the stuff of legend in this picturesque town on the French Broad River. Fiddler Bobby Hicks, a 10-time Grammy nominee, is the event’s host when his schedule permits. As accompaniments to the music, Zuma serves creative comfort food, organic fair trade coffee and homemade desserts.

Visit Raleigh for the World of Bluegrass Wide Open Bluegrass Festival Sept. 27 and 28.

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