Soul of Appalachia: The Blue Ridge Music Trails encompasses hundreds of musical points of interest in 28 counties throughout Western North Carolina. From informal, back-room jam sessions to major festivals to centers of learning, a book and new website offer a guide to the region’s tuneful heritage.
Music Notes: MerleFest, first organized in 1988 to raise money for the Eddy Merle Watson Garden of the Senses in Wilkesboro, is now the nation’s premier bluegrass and Americana festival
The 2014 MerleFest lineup included Banjo-Rama
Pete Wernick, Jens Kruger, and Bryan Sutton, as well as Grammy-winning WNC group the Steep Canyon Rangers
All across the Wilkes Community College campus in Wilkesboro, where the festival is held each April, spontaneous jam sessions are a common occurence.
A Show of Talent: A highlight of the Blue Ridge Music Trails experience, MerleFest is a place where renowned musicians, including Shannon Whitworth and husband Woody Platt of the Steep Canyon Rangers mingle with the crowds.
Pickers young and old, students and pros, gather ’round to jam.
Dancing is part of the fun too.
Points of Interest: Top, Whipporwill Village in Ferguson features a restored schoolhouse, store, smokehouse, and log cabin.
Wilkes County legend Tom Dooley, whose name was made famous in a folk song
A Wilkes County legend: Tom Dooley, whose name was made famous in a folk song
Pickin’ & Trimmin’: Open since 1949, the Drexel Barber Shop hosts informal jam sessions in the “Back Room.”
Free performances by accomplished musicians, including mandolin player Herb Lambert take place most weekends.
Dinner Date: Sims Country Bar-B-Que in Caldwell County advertises itself as being “centrally located in the middle of nowhere,” which is where the Blue Ridge Music Trails of North Carolina guidebook comes in handy.
The restaurant serves an all-you-can-eat barbecue dinner followed by music and dancing on Fridays and Saturdays starting at 5 p.m.
Listen & Learn Housed in the former Cleveland County Courthouse in Shelby and open Wednesday through Sunday, the new Earl Scruggs Center offers several galleries of exhibits, including one that illustrates the style of banjo finger picking for which the artist is famous.