down the road

Doc Watson’s signature baritone voice and unique lead bluegrass guitar licks became synonymous with traditional and bluegrass music. Born in Deep Gap, N.C., Doc lost his vision before his first birthday but never let his blindness slow him down, learning ballads and teaching himself harmonica, banjo and guitar. Since his death in 2012, Doc remains the most highly respected flat-pick guitar player in the history of traditional American music.

When English, Irish and Scottish settlers moved into Appalachia, they brought an ancient form of music with them – the ballad. The isolated mountains drew song collectors like Englishman Cecil Sharp. In Madison County, Sharp collected several hundred songs – including 70 from Jane Hicks Gentry from Hot Springs.

Brasstown, in the far southwest corner of North Carolina, is home to the John C. Campbell Folk School founded in 1925. Its founder Olive Dame Campbell collected the music of the region, including ballads and fiddle tunes. Today, people from all over the world travel to the Folk School to begin their day with Morningsong and attend classes in everything from mandolin playing to blacksmithing. Evening entertainment includes Southern Mountain Square Dance, jams and concerts.

Samantha Biddix Bumgarner and Eva Smathers Davis hailed from Sylva, North Carolina and caught the attention of Columbia Records at the dawn of the country music record industry. In 1939, Bumgarner traveled to Washington DC with Bascom Lamar Lunsford to play for President Roosevelt and the Queen of England.

Down the Road BRMT | Ep. 12: What is Bluegrass?

Jul 13, 2017

It started in Kentucky but quickly caught on across the Blue Ridge Mountains. Back in the ‘40s and '50s, musicians started playing their old instruments in new ways with lots of giddy-up. From Earl Scruggs to Steep Canyon Rangers, North Carolina has laid claim to the top talents in blistering bluegrass music.

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