New Playlist: North Carolina Artists at Wide Open Bluegrass

September 20, 2019

PNC presents Wide Open Bluegrass returns on Friday, Sept. 27 and Saturday, Sept. 28, marking seven years celebrating bluegrass in downtown Raleigh. Come Hear NC is sponsoring performances at Red Hat Amphitheater and this year admission to the mainstage is free. 

North Carolina artists dominate this year’s schedule, so we made a playlist to acquaint you with some of the home state acts playing across eight stages at the one-of-a-kind urban bluegrass festival.

Find the full schedule of events on the World of Bluegrass website.


NC at Hopscotch: Day Three

September 7, 2019

With over 120 bands across 3 days in September, Hopscotch is known for adventurous lineups, memorable performances, and a fan-friendly atmosphere. From large outdoor main stages in Raleigh City Plaza and Red Hat Amphitheatre to intimate club shows, the festival features music in almost every genre imaginable – rock, hip-hop, metal, folk, electronic, experimental, and more – and its schedule highlights this diversity every year.

Here are today's can't miss acts from North Carolina.


North Carolina hip-hop giants Little Brother have curated the Red Hat stage today, and you are in for a treat. Indie rockers Indigo De Souza start the party off at 2:30 p.m. Raleigh’s Kooley High and Charlotte’s Lute will carry the North Carolina hip-hop torch next, setting up for what should be a memorable Little Brother performance at 7:15 p.m.



Country rockers Sarah Shook and the Disarmers from Chapel Hill curated tonight’s show at the Lincoln. Classic country duo Blue Cactus, also from Chapel Hill, kick things off at 9 p.m. and Sarah Shook and the Disarmers will bring the house down at midnight.



The Winston-Salem fuzz-rock trio No Whammy! starts the night off at Neptune’s, followed up by “deathrockers” Secret Shame from Asheville. Durham’s Joyero (one half of indie rock duo Wye Oak) goes on at 11 p.m. as part of an eclectic Imurj line-up.



Raleigh psychedelic rock stewards Birds of Avalon have curated the bill at their home venue of Kings tonight. They perform at 11:30, and are surrounded by some out of state friends, including Brazil’s Boogarins and Moon Duo from Portland.



Slim’s is packed with North Carolina artists tonight. Charlotte’s Acne starts things off with their “dreamy punk,” followed up by Girls Rock NC alums Fruit Snack from Raleigh. DE( )T, another Raleigh act, will lead into blues rock powerhouse and Hopscotch mainstay, Reese McHenry from Chapel Hill.



The Pour House will be grooving tonight, with some danceable offerings courtesy of some special North Carolina acts. Charlotte’s Don Telling’s Island Mysteries will get you moving with the Hawaiian-tinted jazz at 10 p.m. A very special set from Coconut Cake will follow. A Congolese rhythm band led by North Carolina’s prolific Michael Libramento will bring a can’t miss incredibly rare performance at 11 p.m.



Nash Hall will have the experimental music again, Raleigh’s Dreamless starts things off and they’re followed by Manas from Asheville. Take a break from standing and enjoy the rich atmospheres for a bit. Fletcher Hall is the spot for some great singer-songwriters. Al Riggs & Lauren Francis from Durham will start out the evening, with Daughter of Swords (Alexander Sauser Monnig of Mountain Man) playing next. Raleigh’s Gudiya curated a night of experimental music at Wicked Witch, combining electronic music and visual art.

NC at Hopscotch: Day Two

September 6, 2019

With over 120 bands across 3 days in September, Hopscotch is known for adventurous lineups, memorable performances, and a fan-friendly atmosphere. From large outdoor main stages in Raleigh City Plaza and Red Hat Amphitheatre to intimate club shows, the festival features music in almost every genre imaginable – rock, hip-hop, metal, folk, electronic, experimental, and more – and its schedule highlights this diversity every year.

Here are today's can't miss acts from North Carolina.



Tyler Ramsey from Asheville kicks off the first outdoor shows of the weekend at the City Plaza stage at 5:15 p.m., treating the crowd to his heartfelt songs with some intricate guitar work. The Nude Party from Boone, N.C. will follow him at 6:10 p.m. Their style, sound, and demeanor harken back to the early 70s-era Rolling Stones and will get the party going.



The Lincoln Theatre will have some Raleigh garage rock to start off their night. Black Surfer goes on at 8:30 p.m. with their Joy Division meets 50s surf-rock sound. They’re followed up by Truth Club at 9:30 p.m.



Neptunes will be the spot for hip-hop lovers tonight. Raleigh’s pat junior hits the stage at 11:30 p.m. and Jooselord Magnus from Durham is right after. For a slight change of pace, Raleigh punk rockers No Love has curated the stage at Kings for the night. They’re bringing along fellow Raleigh-ites Future Now and Charlotte’s Mutant Strain.



Slim’s is where you’ll find your indie rock tonight, and Asheville’s Wednesday kicks things off at 9 p.m. For some more hip-hop you can pop over to Imurj, where Oak City Slums take the stage at 11:30 p.m.



Pour House will be country-galore and is packed with some of North Carolina’s best. Raleigh’s up-and-coming songstress Kate Rhudy kicks things off at 8:30 p.m. with Chapel Hill’s T. Gold coming on right after at 9:30 p.m. Closing out the evening will be The Dead Tongues from Durham, a perfect nightcap.



Asheville’s Nest Egg has curated tonight’s stage at Wicked Witch, inviting in some out of towners to show off the more experimental side of the festival. Nest Egg will perform at 11:30 p.m.

NC at Hopscotch: Day One

September 5, 2019

With over 120 bands across 3 days in September, Hopscotch is known for adventurous lineups, memorable performances, and a fan-friendly atmosphere. From large outdoor main stages in Raleigh City Plaza and Red Hat Amphitheatre to intimate club shows, the festival features music in almost every genre imaginable – rock, hip-hop, metal, folk, electronic, experimental, and more – and its schedule highlights this diversity every year.

Here are today's can't miss acts from North Carolina.


Thursday’s Neptune’s set is one of the ten North Carolina artist curated stages at Hopscotch this year. Crowmeat Bob handpicked artists pushing the envelope of jazz and brass bands for the evening. Highlights include Durham’s D-Town Brass, Raleigh’s Savage Knights, and a new project involving the curator himself alongside Tashi Dorji and Luke Stewart.



Chapel Hill’s Solar Halos have curated a stage at Kings, bringing along Greensboro’s Mourning Cloak for a night of psychedelic, sonic metal. They welcome White Hills from New York City and the dynamic Boris from Japan. Bring your earplugs.



Charlotte’s TKO Faith Healer will bring their throwback garage rock to Slim’s, and Asheville’s MJ Lenderman and Raleigh’s Lonnie Walker will provide some laid-back indie rock to the Pour House crowds.



The third and final artist curated bill of the night comes courtesy of Wilmington N.C.’s Museum Mouth. Hurricane Dorian has unfortunately led Museum Mouth to cancel their appearance, but their fellow guitar wielding friends including Kississippi and Charly Bliss will keep the rock and roll alive through the rain tonight at Imurj.



Fletcher Hall has been the home to some of Hopscotch’s most innovative and sonically expansive music, and this year is no exception. Durham’s Rosenau & Sanborn close out the venue tonight and will wow the audience with their blend of Chris Rosenau’s (Volcano Choir, Collections of Colonies of Bees) acoustic guitar work and Nick Sanborn’s (Sylvan Esso, Megafaun) synthesizer prowess.



Wicked Witch will house the noise tonight, and Asheville’s Ahleuchatistas will kick off the cacophony. Despite being a two-piece band, they pack some serious decibels, and will be the perfect opening group for a night that includes the Fugazi-adjacent Messthetics and noise-rock patriarchs Wolf Eyes.

Mark Your Calendars! UNC-TV Preview Screening of Ken Burns' "Country Music" Documentary on September 5

September 1, 2019

UNC-TV Public Media North Carolina, Bank of America and the North Carolina Museum of History invite you and a guest to join us for a preview screening of Country Music, a film by Ken Burns and a special Music in the Round performance featuring BJ Barham, H.C. McEntire and Eliza Meyer.

This is a free event, but space is limited and registration is required. RSVPs accepted on a first come, first served basis. Please register you and your guests via Eventbrite or contact Karen Nowak at knowak@unctv.org or 919-549-7273.


UNC-TV Public Media North Carolina, Bank of America and the North Carolina Museum of History staff will screen clips from Ken Burns’ upcoming 16-hour documentary series, Country Music, followed by an intimate Music in the Round experience featuring local country music-inspired artists BJ Barham, H.C. McEntire and local up-and-coming bluegrass artist Eliza Meyer. The film, which chronicles the history of the uniquely American art form, features many North Carolina artists and their stories, including Fred Foster, Jimmie Rodgers, Betty Johnson and Rhiannon Giddens.


6:30 PM - Doors Open

7PM - Preview Screening of Ken Burn’s Country Music

7:40 PM - Music in the Round: Conversations and Performances

8:45 PM - Event concludes

Country Music premieres on UNC-TV, Sunday-Wednesday, September 15-18, and Sunday-Wednesday, September 22-25, from 8-10 PM.

Check Out a Preview for Season 4 of David Holt's State of Music

August 24, 2019

Four-time Grammy winner, David Holt, has spent his life learning and performing traditional American music, and his series, "David Holt's State of Music," shares the stories and sounds of the performers he has crossed paths with.

Season 4 is set to premiere in the Fall of 2019, and will feature Taj Mahal, Della Mae, Darin and Brooke Aldridge with John Cowan, Cane Mill Road, The Burnett Sisters with Willow Dillon, Presley Barker, and David Holt with Zeb Holt and Josh Goforth. Check out a preview for the upcoming season of the acclaimed series below!


Yolanda Rabun set to Channel the High Priestess of Soul in "No Fear and Blues Long Gone: Nina Simone"

August 17, 2019

Starting Wednesday, August 21, UNC Chapel Hill's storied Playmakers Repertory Company will present "No Fear and Blues Long Gone: Nina Simone," a one-woman play by Howard L. Craft starring Yolanda Rabun. 

Learn about Yolanda Rabun in a story written by Playmakers below. 


Piedmont Music Tradition Lives on at Junior’s Jam

August 11, 2019

Story By Scott Stegall

“I think they is some of the best pickers ever been, from North Carolina. I mean the woods is full of them,” Junior Harris says, barely audible over the sound of a five-string banjo in the next room. Sitting on the front porch of his pickin’ parlor, Junior casts his glance away from the soft lines of quilted maple spanning the back of his fiddle and into the fading sunlight. From somewhere out in the dusky afternoon, the thunder rumbles for a split second and then it’s gone. It seems the thunder has learned a lesson known to all bluegrass musicians: it’s no use competing with the blaring twang of a bluegrass banjo.

Inside the building, turnout is testament to Junior’s belief. Musicians armed with mandolins, banjos, guitars, fiddles, and basses plow through a rendition of “Temperance Reel,” a 19th century Irish melody now a standard of American folk music. The tune bounces off the picture clad walls of the pickin’ parlor. From the center of one wall, the father of bluegrass, Bill Monroe looks down on the crowd from his framed perch. “Bill Monroe was my favorite of course,” Joy Harris, Junior’s wife of fifty-two years, tells me. “When he would travel around in Virginia and places around here, I would go sing with him. I really loved that.” Jeff Branch, Junior and Joy’s nephew, thumps the bass lines out as the musicians kick off “Put My Little Shoes Away,” a Bill Monroe classic. That song has a special meaning for Jeff: “That was the first song I remember Bill Monroe dedicating to me when I was a little kid.” 

Many musicians at the jam have formed relationships and shared stages with some of the greatest artists in bluegrass music. Although pickin’ regular Preacher Gene Hopkins is usually found jamming on guitar, he once filled in on bass with the Stanley Brothers when George Shuffler failed to show at a concert in New Salem, North Carolina. Junior performed with Kenny Baker and Bill Monroe, and Bill Simpson, a local banjo legend, toured with Bill Monroe for several months in the 1950s. The old-time fiddlers and banjo players that Junior and his cohort learned from may be long gone, but their legacy is still living and breathing in the instruments and voices that resonate with their tunes and their songs. Their music—the music of the Carolina Piedmont—lives on. 

Junior’s jam session has been a mainstay of the community for many years. Before the jam moved to its present location, Junior and his brother Bob hosted the music making at their tire store in Oakboro, North Carolina every Tuesday. Junior began constructing his pickin’ parlor to house his wife’s antique collection in 2006. Joy recalls how the newly built space became a home not only for old antiques, but old tunes as well: “I knew he would miss it, so I said, ‘Well let’s build a building.’ I love antiques, and I was going to put antiques in here. When we got it built he said, ‘You know this would be a good place to play music.’ So, he won I guess!” Although musicians and local listeners fill up Junior’s pickin’ parlor each Friday night, there is still enough room for several of Joy’s and Junior’s relics. Old instruments hang on the wall, hunting trophies roost above the stage, and pictures of family members and friends are clustered from floor to ceiling. 

Throughout the night, Junior and a group of local bluegrass veterans, share microphones and swap licks with teenagers new to bluegrass and old-time music. Bluegrass standards like “Cabin in Caroline” and “Gold Rush” are performed back to back with regional old-time favorites like “Kiss Me Waltz,” “Up Jumped the Devil,” and “Monkey in a Dogcart”—a tune Junior picked up from older Stanly County musicians who learned it in the 1920s. Some of the tunes Junior plays, like “Soldier’s Joy” and “Uncle Joe,” have been staples of the Southern fiddling tradition since the late 18th century. Between songs Junior offers his trademark sage advice to other musicians: “Eighty per cent of fiddling is in the right hand…You’ve got to do picking just about like you’re eating. If you ain’t got a whole lot to do, pick it up three or four times a day.”  

As mentors to local performers, these musicians have been instrumental in the musical upbringing of professional bluegrass artists including banjoists Terry Baucom, winner of two IBMA awards, and Ben Greene, 2015 SPBGMA Banjo Player of the Year. But while the rattling of plastic picks against steel and the cutting tone of a well rosined bow gliding across fiddle strings sets the audience to tapping their feet, it is the relationships — not the music — that listeners and musicians alike cherish more than anything else. When asked about her favorite aspect of the jam, Joy replies, “It’s just the people and how much they love it.” Junior agrees: “I just like to get to fellowship with everybody and jam.” 

Junior Harris’s jam is held in his pickin’ parlor the first Friday of each month starting at 7:00 p.m.

The address is 12954 Oak Grove Rd, Oakboro, NC 28129.


Scott Stegall is a junior History and Music major at Davidson College. Born in Monroe, North Carolina, Scott grew up around bluegrass and old-time music. Watching reruns of the Grand Ole Opry with his grandfather inspired Scott to pick up the banjo at age thirteen. Since then, he has taken up fiddle, guitar, mandolin, and bass. He's performed with various bluegrass and country bands including Stonewashed, the Catawba Riverkings, and Red Clay Revival. With the help of Davidson College and the North Carolina Arts Council, Scott has conducted fieldwork with and learned from some of the best traditional musicians in the Carolina Piedmont including fiddler Junior Harris and banjo players Clint Barwick and Marvin Gaster

Throwback Thursday: Ben Folds Five Releases Their Eponymous Debut

August 8, 2019

Twenty-four years ago today, Chapel Hill based power pop trio Ben Folds Five released their debut album, Ben Folds Five. Recorded at WaveCastle Studios in Hillsborough, N.C., the signature brand of piano based alternative rock sparked a critically acclaimed run of three more albums for the group, and helped launch bandleader Ben Folds’ successful solo career.

NPR Covers Music Maker Relief Foundation's 25th Anniversary Book, "Blue Muse"

August 4, 2019

Music Maker Relief Foundation's 25th Anniversary Book "Blue Muse" is getting a lot of buzz! The organization has supported over 400 traditional Southern roots musicians who collectively shape several of America's favorite music genres.

NPR covered the quarter-century landmark in early July, check out the article and listen to the feature by following this link.


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