The N.C. Museum of History is jumping on the bluegrass bandwagon with an exhibit, performances and programs to celebrate Raleigh’s second year of hosting the International Bluegrass Music Association’s annual conference and Wide Open Bluegrass festival.
Opening Friday, Aug. 29, the lobby exhibit Carolina Bluegrass: Breakdowns and Revivals, will showcase a different instrument every five weeks. Each instrument was owned and played by a well-known bluegrass musician with ties to North Carolina.
Other parts of Carolina Bluegrass will focus on how bluegrass festivals and fiddlers’ conventions — along with record labels and television shows, such as “The Andy Griffith Show” and “The Beverly Hillbillies” — helped popularize bluegrass music between the early 1950s and the early 1980s.
This free exhibit in the museum lobby will run through May 17, 2015. It is sponsored in part by the Foundation for Bluegrass Music.
A breakdown of exhibit dates for each instrument follows.
Friday, Aug. 29 through Wednesday, Oct. 8
A guitar made by Charlotte luthier Carl McIntyre for Doc Watson, who played it at New York City’s Carnegie Hall in June 1992. The legendary flat-picking guitarist and folksinger won seven Grammy Awards. In 1988 he started the annual music festival MerleFest.
Rodney Dillard &Beverly Cotten-Dillard
Thursday, Oct. 9 through Wednesday, Nov. 12
The Martin D-28 guitar played by Rodney Dillard on “The Andy Griffith Show” as a member of the fictional Darling boys’ bluegrass band. The Dillards made six appearances on the CBS sitcom between 1963 and 1966.
A ca. 1981 custom-made Ome banjo that Dillard’s wife, Beverly Cotten-Dillard, played on “Hee Haw,” the Disney Channel, public television programs, and at festivals.
Thursday, Nov. 13 through Wednesday, Dec. 17
The fiddle Bobby Hicks played during his years with Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys. A 10-time Grammy winner, Hicks is one of the most influential fiddlers in bluegrass music. He joined Ricky Skaggs’s band in 1981 and played fiddle and banjo with the Kentucky Thunder until 2004.
Thursday, Dec. 18 through Wednesday, Jan. 21
The Vega tenor banjo played by Arthur Smith while composing and later recording “Feudin’ Banjos” with Don Reno in 1955. Popularized as “Dueling Banjos” in the 1972 film Deliverance, it is one of the most famous movie melodies of all time.
Thursday, Jan. 22 through Wednesday, March 4
A mandolin played by Curly Seckler during his time with Lester Flatt and the Nashville Grass. He is best known as the mandolin player and tenor singer for Flatt and Earl Scruggs’s Foggy Mountain Boys. Seckler’s signature “chop” rhythm technique influenced generations of mandolinists.
Thursday, March 5 through Wednesday, April 8
A banjo played by four-time Grammy winner David Holt, a musician, storyteller, historian, and host of radio and television programs, such as “Folkways” on PBS and “Fire on the Mountain” on the Nashville Network. Holt now tours the country, performing solo and with his band, the Lightning Bolts.
Thursday, April 9 through Sunday, May 17
An “Earl Scruggs” signature banjo, ca. 1984, that Scruggs helped design for Gibson Guitar Corp. Scruggs’s three-finger picking technique remains the standard in bluegrass music. He played banjo with Bill Monroe’s band, the Blue Grass Boys, until he and Lester Flatt formed the Foggy Mountain Boys. They were longtime members of the Grand Ole Opry and earned numerous awards and honors.
Free Bluegrass Performances, Program and JAM Session
History à la Carte: North Carolina’s Bluegrass Tradition
Wednesday, Sept. 10, noon-1 p.m.
Bring your lunch; beverages provided.
Joe Newberry will intersperse this engaging talk with music. He is a North Carolina transplant who has created music most of his life — with a banjo, a guitar and a fiddle. His legendary songwriting and singing skills have delighted audiences around the world.
Bluegrass in the Garden
Sunday, Sept. 14, 4-6 p.m.
Enjoy listening to Carolina bluegrass with the duo Grits and Soul, featuring Anna Kline and John Looney. The event takes place in Fletcher Garden, outside the Museum of History. The program is sponsored by Sonic Pie Productions.
New Deal String Band
Wednesday, Oct. 1, 5-7 p.m.
Hear the original members of this Raleigh-based band as they reunite for a special concert. The New Deal String Band achieved national fame as one of the pioneers of “newgrass” — a progressive style of bluegrass.
PineCone Bluegrass Jam
Thursday, Oct. 2, 5-7 p.m.
Bring your instrument and your love of bluegrass to the Museum of History for a jam session; co-sponsored by PineCone, the Piedmont Council of Traditional Music.
For information about the N.C. Museum of History, a Smithsonian-affiliated museum, call 919-807-7900 or access www.ncmuseumofhistory.org.