Shelby is the county seat of Cleveland County, located about 50 miles west of Charlotte and 70 miles east of music hotbed Asheville in south-central North Carolina. It's musically distinguished by having been the home of Earl Scruggs and country singer Don Gibson. Most of the activities of Art of Sound are centered around the courthouse square, but this year the three block distant Don Gibson theater also served as a venue, but I'm getting ahead of my story. Our visit started off on Thursday afternoon when our friend Marta Jones performed at Jefferson Elementary School in Shelby with her band In Cahoots. Irene substituted on mandolin, her first gig. Bluegrass in the Schools is an important concept supported by IBMA as well as local bluegrass associations and bands. Taking acoustic and bluegrass music to young children exposes them to new and different instruments, instrumentation, and an approach to making music quite different from that usually taught in school music programs.
Megan Peeler is a young, country singer who grew up in Shelby, attended Appalachian State University, where she majored in Music Therapy, and now lives in Nashville, where she's trying to forge a singing career. She has a pleasant, strong voice and writes some interesting and imaginative original songs. She accompanies herself on piano or guitar.
The Harris Brothers, Reggie on guitar and Ryan on bass, are an endlessly entertaining duo who play a range of music from blues through country, jazz, and pop to almost anything with a tune. Whether its Johnny Cash, Django Rhinehart, or anywhere in between, they're sure to please.
New Plowed Ground
Balsam Range has just released their third CD, which will have a hard time exceeding their previous effort in quality, but seems to be doing just fine. I've included a video, the title song from the new CD, below. Nominated for Emerging Band of the Year at IBMA this year, this band from Asheville has great drive, wonderful songs, many written from within the band, and fine pickers. Tim Surrett on Bass is a great emcee, and there isn't a hole in the band. See them if you can.