Jim Shumate, Bluegrass Fiddler Supreme

Rural Roots of Bluegrass

It’s a long drive from Raleigh, North Carolina to Nashville, Tennessee. Before Interstate 40 was cut through North Carolina, driving west from Raleigh meant winding through such towns as Siler City, Mocksville, Statesville, Hickory, and Old Fort. Bill Monroe is no stranger to that road. In the forty odd years he has been performing, he has worn out many a set of tires driving that road. Being a bluegrass musician has meant accepting show dates spread out all over the country; it never seems to matter how many miles lie between.

To pass the time, Monroe has often tuned in

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Cleo Davis, The Original Bluegrass Boy

Rural Roots of Bluegrass

By Wayne Erbsen

On March 9, 1919, a doctor rode his horse-drawn buggy through the hills of northwest Georgia to the home of Ben and Effie Davis. He was summoned because Effie was about to have a baby. By the time the Doc had left, Effie and John were the proud parents of a healthy baby boy. As yet, they had no name for him. By and by, they gave him the name Cleo.

As young Cleo was growing up, he was surrounded by music. Mama played the pump organ and sang the old hymns along with her brothers and

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Bluegrass Music & Old-Time Music: What’s the Difference?

Rural Roots of Bluegrass

Bluegrass music evolved from an earlier type of country music we now call old-time music. As it’s commonly played, old-time music is a mostly instrumental stringband style with a beat that’s designed for square dancing. As such, the music is spirited and upbeat.

The main lead instrument in old-time music is the fiddle. The fiddler normally chooses the tunes, sets the rhythm, begins the tune, and signals to the other musicians when the tune will end. Another key ingredient in old-time music is the banjo, which is played in what is called “clawhammer style.” This is a rhythmic style with

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Bluegrass Music in Western North Carolina

Rural Roots of Bluegrass

Western North Carolina has long been fertile ground for the growth of bluegrass music. In fact, no other region or state has contributed so much to its development.

For many people, the appeal of bluegrass music is that it is a relatively new form of music that sounds old. Most scholars agree that bluegrass first gained national attention when Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys appeared on the Grand Ole Opry in 1945. In addition to Bill Monroe himself, this legendary band consisted of Lester Flatt (guitar), Earl Scruggs (banjo), Chubby Wise (fiddle) and Cedric Rainwater (bass). The reason that

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