6 Tar Heel Bluegrass Venues and Events to Explore

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 CenterShelby, Cleveland County

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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 BluegrassMorganton, Burke County

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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 ConventionMount Airy, Surry County

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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. MerleFestWilkesboro, Wilkes County

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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 ConventionYadkinville, 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 Barn – Eden, Rockingham County

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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 Carolinaproduced 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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