Old-School Bluegrass Show Here Friday
Hall of fame artists bring legendary bluegrass performers Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs to Southern Pines in a concert featuring a local band.
"This is going to be a great show," says Marshall Stephenson, a member of the Bluegrass Train Band and 2009 Carolinas Country and Bluegrass Hall of Fame inductee. "It's going to be one of the top shows that anyone would want to see."
Stephenson, a North Carolina native, has made a career in the music and radio business. Since the 1950s, he has worked with almost every big name in the business, including Scruggs, whom he describes as one of his heroes. He founded and ran the Eastern North Carolina Bluegrass and Folk Festival and performed more than 2,200 times in 10 years on live TV shows in Durham, Raleigh and Wilmington.
Stephenson's group, the Bluegrass Train Band, performs Friday, June 24, at the Sunrise Theater, in Southern Pines. The show pays tribute to Flatt, Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys, and opens at 7:30 p.m. with local opening act South Ridge Bluegrass. The Bluegrass Train Band will play some of Flatt and Scruggs' most famous works, including "Foggy Mountain Breakdown" and "The Ballad of Jed Clampett," better known as the theme song for the TV series "The Beverly Hillbillies."
Flatt and Scruggs helped define the sound of bluegrass music. Both were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1985 and were ranked No. 24 on CMT's 40 Greatest Men of Country Music in 2003. Scruggs, who was born in Shelby, was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame in 2009.
"We wanted to do some songs as a -tribute to Lester and Earl because a lot of folks have heard about them," Stephenson says. "We wanted to -showcase them as well as our band."
The Bluegrass Train Band plays in -concerts across North Carolina. Every member has won awards -individually and performed with some of the most well-known bluegrass artists. Many are in various state halls of fame. It features Tim Smith on the fiddle, Eric Ellis playing the five string banjo, Clyde Mattocks on the Dobro, David Guthrie singing tenor, Carroll Wade on the base and Stephenson playing guitar and singing. All have recorded -various albums individually and in different groups.
South Ridge Bluegrass opens the Southern Pines performance. Its members include locals Gregg Davis, Huey Priest, Johnie Marion and Steve Creed. They will perform 12 to 15 songs, including some original works.
"This is a great opportunity for people to come out and support bluegrass music," Davis says. "Bluegrass is a very traditional style of music. It's very popular in the South. We're just trying to expose it to more people and different venues."
South Ridge Bluegrass plays at many local events. They play in the traditional bluegrass style of Flatt and Scruggs but also perform with the progressive sounds of John Denver and The Eagles. The Southern Pines concert will have instrumental songs, duets, quartets and comedy.
Comedian Cousin Brossy, who is currently on tour with Merle Haggard, accompanies the Bluegrass Train Band for the show. Both bands will have CDs available for purchase at the concert. South Ridge Bluegrass will have T-shirts for sale as well.
Concert tickets are available for $18 at the Sunrise Theater and can be purchased by phone at (910) 692-8501 or through the Sunrise Theater website.
Both bands have song -samples at YouTube.com.
"It's going to be a great evening," Stephenson says. "I hope we have a sellout."
Summer Hennings is a rising sophomore at UNC-Chapel Hill and is a summer intern at The Pilot.
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