IBMA’s World of Bluegrass convention is just around the corner, and a lot of attendees are starting to scout around for things to do in Raleigh while they are in town. During our several scouting trips this year, we found a number of cultural and historical destinations worthy of consideration, but for banjo players, a sure bet is Jim Mills’ Banjo Showroom in nearby Durham.
Jim is best known in the bluegrass world for his time playing banjo with the Bass Mountain Boys and Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, followed by 14 years with Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder. During that time, he had been named the IBMA’s Banjo Player of the Year six times.
Since leaving the road in 2010, Mills has focused on his banjo business, buying and selling prewar flatheads and conversions. His showroom is like a trip through time, for both his collection of several iconic prewar Mastertones, and the wealth of photos and artifacts from the earliest days of bluegrass he has assembled over the years.
When we visited recently, Jim gave us a quick look at his archive of Flatt & Scruggs memorabilia, and spoke about the rich banjo history in the Raleigh region.
It’s about a 25 minute drive from downtown Raleigh to Mills’ showroom, and he invites anyone interested in stopping by during World of Bluegrass week to contact him online.