As I write this, bluegrass followers, and banjo pickers in particular, are acknowledging what would have been Earl Scruggs’ 90th birthday (January 6th).
So, it seems fitting that the grand opening of the Earl Scruggs Center: Music & Stories from the American South will take place in Shelby (Cleveland County), North Carolina, this coming Saturday, January 11, at 7:00 p.m. (EST).
Joining in the celebrations will be Sam Bush ably assisted by Vince Gill, Travis Tritt, Rob Ickes, Jim Mills, Gary Scruggs and Randy Scruggs. In a presentation that is billed as Remembering Earl: Music & Stories, these internationally-renowned artists will share their memories of Earl Scruggs through song and story.
The center has been established as a tribute to Shelby native, Earl Scruggs, who is credited with the 3-finger style of playing the 5-string banjo that is a centerpiece of bluegrass music. It combines the life story of the legendary five-string banjo master with the unique and engaging story of the history and cultural traditions of the region in which Scruggs was born and raised. It was in the nearby Flint Hill community where Scruggs learned to play banjo and began the three-finger playing style that has come to be known around the world as the Scruggs Style.
Earl Scruggs made his mark with the birth of bluegrass music as a member of Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys and, later, with partner Lester Flatt when they performed with their band the Foggy Mountain Boys.
The center will explore Scruggs’ innovative career in the context of the community that gave it shape, while celebrating how he crossed musical boundaries and defined and re-defined the voice of the banjo. Scruggs embraced tradition while also adapting to the changing times and looking toward the future—themes which resonate throughout the center.
Engaging exhibits, special event space and rich programming provide a uniquely rich experience for visitors to the re-furbished Cleveland County Courthouse (103 S. Lafayette Street, Shelby, North Carolina 28150).
Look out for a full report next week on Saturday’s events from our correspondent John Goad, who will be in attendance.