Arts Council Kicks Off 50th Anniversary at Wide Open Bluegrass

The North Carolina Arts Council will kick-off a fall season of 50th anniversary arts events on Friday, Sept. 29 and Saturday, Sept. 30 when it sponsors a stage at the Wide Open Bluegrass StreetFest, featuring musicians that showcase Blue Ridge Mountains traditional music.

The N.C. Arts Council will present the Davie Street Stage in downtown Raleigh, one of seven music stages for the two-day free musical festival, to focus on musicians and groups that exemplify why North Carolina plays such a large role in shaping the bluegrass sound and the story of traditional music in America.

Concerts for the stage start at 12:15 p.m. and conclude at 11 p.m. on both days.

The N.C. Arts Council documents and helps sustain musical traditions from bluegrass to African American as a way to connect citizens and visitors to unique artistic practices that have flourished over generations in communities across the state.

The Davie Street Stage is one of 200 arts and cultural events this fall schedule in all 100 N.C. counties that will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the N.C. Arts Council. These events demonstrate the diversity of arts expression developed or supported by the N.C. Arts Council.

Wide Open Bluegrass, presented by PNC, is part of the International Bluegrass Music Association’s five-day World of Bluegrass event in Raleigh, September 26-30. The N.C. Arts Council partnered with PineCone to curate the Davie Street Stage. The free event showcases more than 80 bands, five music stages, a dance tent, vendors and concessions.

North Carolina Arts Council’s Wide Open Bluegrass Stage:

Friday, Sept. 29:

12:15 – 1 p.m. Strictly Strings

1:30 – 2:15 p.m. Cathy Fink, Marcy Marxer, and Sam Gleaves

2:45 – 3:30 p.m. Zoe & Cloyd

4 – 4:45 p.m. ShadowGrass

5:15 – 6 p.m. Darin & Brooke Aldridge

6:30 – 7:30 p.m. David Holt & Josh Goforth

8 – 9:15 p.m. The Kruger Brothers

9:45 – 11 p.m. Alan Bibey and Grasstowne


Saturday, Oct. 3, 2015:


12:15 –1 p.m. ClayBank

1:30 – 2:15 p.m. The Piney Woods Boys

2:45 – 3:30 p.m. Snyder Family Band

4 – 4:45 p.m. Mark Kuykendall, Bobby Hicks & Asheville Bluegrass

5:15 – 6 p.m. Strictly Clean & Decent

6:30 –7:30 p.m. The Rorrer Brothers and Son

8 – 9:15 p.m. Terry Baucom’s Dukes of Drive

9:45 – 11 p.m. The Harris Brothers

For more information visit or .

Note: The Blue Ridge National Heritage Area will host a Blue Ridge Music Trails of North Carolina booth as part of IBMA in the Raleigh Convention Center in downtown Raleigh Thursday, Sept. 28 to Saturday, Sept. 30. or

Below are details about the performances presented by the N.C. Arts Council:

Strictly Strings is an Appalachian Old-Time band formed from an old-time fiddle class in the Junior Appalachian Musicians (JAM) Program, based in Boone. Strictly Strings has been together for three successful years and have performed locally, at festivals, private gigs, contra dances, and radio shows. Strictly Strings is Kathleen Burnett (fiddle and vocals), Anissa Burnett (bass, fiddle and vocals), Willow Dillon (fiddle, cello, banjo, and vocals), Caleb Coatney (mandolin, guitar and banjo), and Cecil Gurganus (rhythm guitar, vocals). They're playing several times this weekend, in the Dance Tent (with Cane Creek Cloggers) on Saturday afternoon, and at both the IBMA Youth Stage in front of the Raleigh Convention Center and the JAM Stage at Martin Street.

Cathy Fink, Marcy Marxer, and Sam Gleaves pay tribute to Ola Belle Reed, a trailblazer for women in bluegrass music, who laid the foundation for many talented women who continue to be inspired by her music today. The GRAMMY winning musicians Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer, whose own successful music career spans more than 35 years, will be joined by Appalachian musician Sam Gleaves, whose critically acclaimed CD “Ain’t We Brothers” features original songs for the tribute to this influential music icon. Fink and Marxer sing superb harmonies backed by their instrumental virtuosity on the guitar, five-string banjo, ukulele, mandolin, cello-banjo, and many other instruments. With a repertoire ranging from classic country to western swing, gypsy jazz to bluegrass, and old-time string band to contemporary folk including some original gems, their versatility defies a brief description. In February 2017, the duo released their 45th recording, “Get Up and Do Right.” Gleaves is a multi-instrumentalist who plays banjo, guitar, fiddle, autoharp and dulcimer.

Darin & Brooke Aldridge are both acclaimed vocalists with rich harmonies with impeccable musicianship to create the unmistakable sound that has made them one of the hottest young acts in acoustic music. Darin spent 6 years as a member of the acclaimed County Gentleman and is a highly sought-after multi-instrumentalist. Brooke has been lauded for having one of the most powerful voices in music of any genre. Husband and wife duo Darin & Brooke Aldridge draw on the traditions of their native North Carolina, the savvy of a young, gifted band and their ingenuity to create the most adventurous album of their career with their latest release, Faster & Farther. They have received multiple nominations from the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music of America (SPGBMA), and Inspirational Country Music (ICM).

David Holt is a four-time GRAMMY Award winner and rising acoustic music star and GRAMMY nominee Josh Goforth will join together to bring to life the joy and spirit of old time mountain music and stories. They met when Goforth was only 14, and Holt was performing at his middle school. Today, they combine the virtuosic sounds of guitar, banjo, fiddle, slide guitar, mandolin, and a world of exciting rhythm instruments from hambone (body slapping) rhythms, to spoons, stump-fiddle, rhythm bones, jaw harp, and even paper bag. It is a program of songs, stories, and amazing musicianship that will appeal to all ages. Holt is recognized as one of the nation’s foremost folk musicians and storytellers. Goforth is descended from many of the old-timers who Holt learned from in the late 1960s in Lonesome Mountain.

The Kruger Brothers will sweep you away on the musical tide that is the Kruger Brothers and the Kontras Quartet. Their effortless rhythms mesmerize all who hear them, and Wide Open Bluegrass is overjoyed to welcome them back to Raleigh this year. Three years ago, they debuted their stunning Lucid Dreamer concerto at Wide Open Bluegrass, and they have continued to collaborate since then, bridging the line between classical music and American folk while drawing on diverse musical traditions to create original, exciting, inspiring performances that speak to people from around the world. Their latest collaboration is the Roan Mountain Suite, an original composition by Jens Kruger that was commissioned to honor the region, history, and legacy of Tennessee’s Roan Mountain. Brothers Jens and Uwe Kruger were born in Switzerland, where they met New York bass player Joel Landsberg, and together they all moved to Wilkes County, NC, to be closer to the rich traditional Appalachian music that they are so passionate about. Kontras Quartet is based in Chicago, but the ensemble's members hail from South Africa, Russia, and the United States. Kontras means contrast in the Afrikaans language, which is perfectly descriptive of the band's vibrant blend of musical genres. The Kruger Brothers and the Kontras Quartet are guaranteed to put on an eclectic and enchanting performance.

Alan Bibey and Grasstowne is a band comprised of some of the most diversely talented and highly respected musicians in bluegrass and acoustic music. Fans and DJs everywhere and of all ages love the unique, energetic sound of Alan Bibey & Grasstowne as they combine tradition with hard driving, progressive bluegrass. The band’s first two projects, The Road Headin’ Home and The Other Side of Towne went to #1 and #2 respectively on the National Bluegrass Charts. The Road Headin’ Home remained at #1 for three months and won the 2008 Album of the Year award. Their project Kickin’ Up Dust hit in the top 5 on the singles and CD chart. The band's latest album on Mountain Fever Records, Alan Bibey & Grasstowne 4 has already yielded three huge chart hits, “This Old Guitar and Me,” “Cold Dark Ground,” and “I’m Country,” and it has had all 12 songs from the project charting on the Bluegrass Today airplay charts. The band features Alan Bibey (mandolin, vocals), Gena Britt (banjo, vocals), Greg Luck (guitar, vocals), Zak McLamb (bass), and Courtney Rorrer (fiddle).

ClayBank’s name is integral to who they are and where they are from. The band rehearses on Claybank Road in the Claybank community in West Jefferson. It’s their home, their heritage, and their way of representing the musical tradition in their area. From the music-rich Blue Ridge Mountains, ClayBank plays straight ahead bluegrass. Formed in 2015, ClayBank started strong out of the gate with a 3rd place finish in the SPBGMA band contest in February 2016 and 1st place at RenoFest in March 2016, followed by signing with the Andrea Roberts Agency in April and with Rural Rhythm in May. The band is comprised of Gary Trivette on bass, Tyler Thompson on banjo, Jacob Greer on guitar, and Zack Arnold on mandolin. They are living proof that raw, young talent combined with a wealth of musical experience and expertise can prevail. This award-winning band combines dynamic instrumentation with powerful vocal abilities. From a hard-driving bluegrass song to an a capella gospel ballad with impressive harmonies, there’s always something for every listener at a ClayBank show. “Playing Hard to Forget” is their debut album on Rural Rhythm Records.

Zoe & Cloyd spring from deep roots in American music. Founding members of the acclaimed Americana trio Red June, and long-time veterans of the Asheville music scene, Natalya Zoe Weinstein and John Cloyd Miller recently released their second full-length album, “Eyes Brand New,” which has received glowing reviews from publications including the venerable No Depression. Highlighting their emotive songwriting and signature harmonies, “Eyes Brand New” showcases the breadth of their collective musical spirit, seamlessly combining original folk, country, old-time, and bluegrass with sincerity and zeal. Zoe & Cloyd’s debut recording, Equinox (2015), met with high acclaim as well. The duo also earned first place at the prestigious FreshGrass Festival Duo Contest in 2015; in addition, they have performed at MerleFest, Music City Roots, and more. Miller's Appalachian roots run deep - he is a twelfth-generation North Carolina native and the grandson of pioneering bluegrass fiddler and N.C. Folk Heritage Award winner Jim Shumate. Miller is well known for his haunting mountain voice as well as his instrumental prowess and award-winning songwriting. He is a previous winner of the prestigious Chris Austin Songwriting Contest and a recipient of an Artist Fellowship for songwriting from the N.C. Arts Council. Weinstein also comes from a musical family: her father is a master jazz pianist and her grandfather, originally from Russia, was a professional klezmer musician. She is an accomplished fiddler in a variety of styles as well as an inspired singer and songwriter. While trained classically in her home state of Massachusetts, she has spent many years fine-tuning her bluegrass and old-time fiddling with some of the country’s top traditional musicians. Now a mentor to many young players, Weinstein is a sought-after instructor and session musician.

ShadowGrass is comprised of four young players, ages 12-17, whose paths crossed thanks to their shared love for playing bluegrass music. Since meeting at local fiddlers' conventions in 2014, they have been sharing a musical journey that has taken them to a variety of venues and festivals, where they play and compete together. This past fall, they performed on The Today Show when Al Roker came through Raleigh as part of PNC presents Wide Open Bluegrass; last summer, they placed 1st in the youth band category and 5th in the adult bluegrass band category (out of 152 entrants) at the Galax Fiddler’s Convention. The band includes Presley Barker (12), guitar; Kyser George (12), bass; Luke Morris (17), mandolin; and Clay Russell (16), banjo. All of the members are award winning youth musicians. Although they have their own style, ShadowGrass is honored to be playing in the shadow of great bluegrass legends. Holding to their bluegrass roots, fast picking, and fresh arrangements have earned the band numerous awards in youth and adult competitions across the region.

The Rorrer Brothers and Son. Kinney Rorrer is the author of Ramblin’ Blues: The Life and Songs of Charlie Poole, host of the radio program Back to the Blue Ridge on WVTF (an NPR affiliate in Virginia), and he is one of the musicians featured in the Blue Ridge Music Trails of North Carolina guidebook and website. Rorrer is a member of a group called the New North Carolina Ramblers, so named in tribute to Charlie Poole’s band, the North Carolina Ramblers. When he was in the eighth grade, his dad brought home a stack of old 78 rpm records, records that his uncles had made. One uncle was Posey Rorer, a fiddler, and the other one, an uncle by marriage, was Charlie Poole, a banjo player and singer. Charlie was married to Posey’s sister, who was Kinney’s dad’s aunt. Kinney recalls that he would lie on his stomach on the floor and play those 78s on his sister’s little record player, listening to things like “Leaving Home” and “Flying Clouds,” and he was captivated. Once, Kinney’s dad took them to see Bascom Lamar Lunsford, in the spring of 1964. Lunsford was really the first person who ever taught Kinney a chord by name. He taught history for 32 years at Danville Community College in Danville, Virginia, before retiring in 2006.

The Piney Woods Boys. Members of the Piney Woods Boys came of age in the 1970s at the tail end of a musical era. As teenagers, they sought out the “real sounds” of community music that could still be heard at family parties, dances, and churches. The musicians they learned from possessed a regional style of playing that pre-dated the Great Homogenization of the recording industry, before “old-time” and “bluegrass” split into two camps. Today you can hear that “real sound” in the Piney Woods Boys' music—Piedmont fiddle tunes, mountain gospel harmonies, and string band blues. Three of the band members have played together in various combinations for 40 years or more. Jim Collier, Margaret Martin, Wayne Martin, and Minnesota ace Matt Haney formed the Piney Woods Boys in 2012 to revisit the music that inspired their youth. With the taste and talent of seasoned musicians, the Piney Woods Boys now introduce the great canon of Southern bedrock music to a new generation.

The Snyder Family Band, based out of Lexington, performs a unique style of music infused with a wide range of styles and genres. They bring their exciting, talent-filled show to audiences of all ages and musical tastes. Samantha Snyder, who began in classical violin lessons at the age of three, is an award-winning fiddler as well as a top-notch singer and songwriter. She loves the expressive, soulful nature of her instrument, which has been a huge part of her for as long as she can remember. She is dedicated to crafting unique songs with meaningful lyrics and stirring music. Whether fiddling, singing, or playing rhythm guitar, Samantha creates a warm and energetic feel on stage that demonstrates her true enjoyment of music. Zeb Snyder, a skilled multi-instrumentalist and highly devoted musician, began his musical career with classical guitar training at age seven. After amassing multiple guitar championships as a youth, he turned his focus to performing, recording, and writing music. Zeb pulls from a wide variety of musical genres such as southern rock, blues, and country, tastefully creating his own rich style. He is widely acclaimed for his lead guitar, his songwriting, and his distinctive rhythm, which he has specially developed to carry and enrich the band's music. Supporting these gifted young musicians, their dad, Bud Snyder, holds down a rock solid upright bass rhythm. His ability to adapt to the multiple genres that influence the band is a key ingredient of their signature sound. Owen, the youngest Snyder, makes an occasional visit to the spotlight to wear out a tune on the banjo, a part of the show not to be missed.

Mark Kuykendall, Bobby Hicks & Asheville Bluegrass. Bluegrass veteran Mark Kuykendall took a 15-year break from the music industry before recording his fine Rebel Records debut, “Down Memory Lane.” The talented musician, who had spent years playing in the bands of legendary artists such as Bill Monroe and Jimmy Martin, concentrated on his antique car business so he could stay off the road and raise his daughter. The official title of the group is Mark Kuykendall, Bobby Hicks and Asheville Bluegrass. The inclusion of Hicks on this recording was an easy decision. Hicks, now in his 80s and playing as strong as ever, is a legendary bluegrass fiddler who, like Kuykendall, is a former Blue Grass Boy. Hicks started playing with Bill Monroe in 1954 as a bass player when he was just 21 years old; after the band's fiddler Gordon Terry was drafted into the Army, Hicks stepped in on the fiddle, the instrument for which he became famous. He was a key contributor to some of Monroe's most classic recordings, including Cheyenne, Wheel Hoss, and Used to Be. He would later go on to play for Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder for 21 years, performing on Skaggs’ most successful albums and winning 10 GRAMMY Awards along the way. Hicks was also the fiddler for the all-star Bluegrass Album Band that featured future IBMA Hall of Famers J.D. Crowe, Doyle Lawson, and Tony Rice. In 2014, Hicks received the N.C. Heritage Award in recognition of his influence in his home state and beyond. Down Memory Lane features Kuykendall on guitar and lead vocals, Hicks on fiddle and bass vocals, Nick Chandler on mandolin and baritone vocals, Nick Dauphinais on bass and tenor vocals, and Seth Rhinehart on banjo.

Strictly Clean & Decent is an acoustic trio featuring Patrick Crouch, Ron Shuffler, and Kay Crouch. The trio is dedicated to performing a variety of musical styles in an acoustic setting, including modern folk songs by American, Canadian, and Irish songwriters, the fiery breakdowns and songs of family and home found in both traditional and contemporary bluegrass settings, and centuries-old Celtic airs and dance tunes. Shuffler is a veteran of the early Top 40 and beach music scene but also is well known in country and bluegrass circles. He has toured with David Peterson and 1946, the Dale Ann Bradley Band, and Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper. His solid bass playing and impeccable harmony vocals are without equal. Shuffler, who plays bass, was raised in a musical family; his eldest brother, George, virtually created the cross-picking style of guitar playing while working with The Stanley Brothers, a first-generation bluegrass band, in the 1950s and 60s. Kay Crouch performs on the guitar, flute, piano, and tin whistle - her varied musical background includes symphonic and solo percussion work and musical theatre as well as popular and folk music. Patrick Crouch handles the mandolin, banjo, dobro, fiddle, and guitar for the trio. He has been performing acoustic music since 1977 when he founded New River Reign, a staple at Blowing Rock’s P.B. Scott’s Music Hall. He turned to country music with Long Time Gone and, in 1989, created Strictly Clean and Decent with Ron Shuffler and Reggie Harris. The band has three CDs: Boomer Breakdown, Crazy Quilt, and How High the Moon. They have hosted an annual Caldwell Traditional Musicians Showcase for almost 20 years, and is included in the traditional artists directory of the Blue Ridge National Heritage Area and in the Blue Ridge Music Trails of North Carolina. In 2000, Strictly Clean and Decent proposed a project to record 100 Caldwell County traditional musicians over a 10-year period; 128 musicians were recorded with the trio providing instrumental and vocal backing for all artists on 10 recordings released annually between 2001 and 2010.

Terry Baucom Dukes of Drive has enjoyed a career in music that started in 1970 with Charlie Moore and continued over the years as a founding member of ground breaking bands like Boone Creek (with Ricky Skaggs and Jerry Douglas), Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, IIIrd Tyme Out and more. Winner of the 2013 IBMA Recorded Event of the Year for “What’ll I Do,” Baucom currently tours with his own band, Terry Baucom’s Dukes of Drive. Last year’s single, “The Rock,” finished 2015 as bluegrass radio’s most played song on the Bluegrass Today chart. The band’s current Top 10 single, “Around The Corner,” is receiving heavy national and international airplay. In 2008, Deering Banjos introduced the Terry Baucom Signature model banjo, while the Dunlop company also uses Baucom as an endorser, offering Terry Baucom custom sets of banjo strings. A testament to his influence is evident when you listen to countless younger generation banjo players who use Baucom signature licks and emulate his driving technique. In addition to playing on numerous recording sessions and producing instructional materials, Baucom teaches banjo, face to face – both privately and in camp and workshop settings. The band consists of Joey Lemons from King, N.C., on mandolin and vocals; Will Jones of Cana, Va., on guitar and vocals; and Joe Hannabach of Pfafftown, N.C. on bass.

The Harris Brothers, Reggie and Ryan, are a real brother duo born and raised in Western North Carolina, where they were exposed to a wide variety of music from an early age. The Harris Brothers started playing string instruments and singing as small children and are part of a musical family that still gets together to play. They have been playing professionally as a duo for more than twenty years, showcasing their unique style. The intuitive nature of their interaction, in regard to both playing and singing, can only be achieved via the relationship between brothers. Reggie sings and plays guitar, banjo, and a kick-drum suitcase for percussion; Ryan sings and plays the bass. The Harris Brothers seemily infinite live repertoire consists of any number of genres from traditional roots music, rock & roll, jazz, blues, Appalachian mountain music, to vintage country and bluegrass. They effortlessly shift from original tunes to their own arrangements of songs from all sides of the Americana musical spectrum.