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Summer music is in the air at ESC

Summer music is well underway at the Earl Scruggs Center (ESC) in Shelby.

The ESC Center Stage Concert Series kicked off in February and will continue through August. Previous artists in the series include Joe Collins, Foreign Landers, Chatham Rabbits, Hubby Jenkins and the Down Hill Strugglers, and most recently, Zoe & Cloyd on June 10, 2022.

"We are excited to bring some excellent artists who present different styles of music to the Center Stage Concert Series this year," says Mary Beth Martin, ESC excutive director. "So far we've had several sold-out shows and a great crowd at each one, a result of a lineup that features a number of award-winning and regionally or nationally recognized acts."

Martin says the Center Stage Concert Series is unique because the ESC venue is intimate and provides the audience a wonderful opportunity to interact with and get to know the artists.

"Artists love playing here--many were influenced by Earl Scruggs, and it's special for them to share the story behind their music with an audience of music lovers," says Martin.

The next concert in the series will feature Wyldwood Stringband - a collaboration of Caroline Tanner, Sarah Hollis and Phil Lanier. Each of them separated in age by a decade, they all share the same passion: the evolution of bluegrass and old-time folk music. Sarah and Phil are both from the local area, and Sarah's father and Phil's uncle played in a bluegrass band named "Bitter Creek" in the 70s. Caroline is from western Canada and fell in love with bluegrass on Vancouver Island before moving to the heartland of the music that "stole her heart."

Bringing their various backgrounds together, Wyldwood Stringband strives to honor the traditions from which their music comes, while pushing it forward and "having one hell of a good time along the way."

The Wyldwood Stringband will perform in the ESC's Great Hall on Thursday, July 14, 2022, at 6 p.m. Tickets cost $10 and can be purchased online. A cash bar will be available.

Next on the ESC's concert series' agenda is Kristin Scott Benson, a five-time recipient of the International Bluegrass Music Association's (IMBA) Banjo Player of the Year award and the recipient of the 2018 Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass. Since 2008, she has been a member of the Grammy-nominated and two-time IBMA Entertainers of the Year group, The Grascals.

Kristin's latest solo album, titled Stringworks, debuted in the top 10 on Billboard's Bluegrass album chart, and the self-penned opening track, "Great Waterton," was nominated for IBMA's Instrumental Recorded Performance of the Year.

In addition to her performing and recording career, Kristin is a well-established instructor. She has published two books and has a third in the works. She regularly teaches at the nation's top bluegrass and banjo events.

Kristen Scott Benson will perform in the ESC's Great Hall on Thursday, August 4, 2022, at 6 p.m. Tickets cost $20 and can be purchased online. A cash bar will be available.

In addition to hosting concerts, the ESC is also encouraging local musicians to bring their instruments for a community-wide jam session as Pickin' on the Square returns to the Cleveland County court square from 5 - 7 p.m. on July 8 and Aug. 13, 2022.

"Pickers of all playing levels are welcome to participate," says Martin. "Music lovers, families and individuals are invited to bring a lawn chair and picnic to enjoy the music."

The ESC gift shop will be open during the event for guests to purchase refreshments and souvenirs.

For more information about any of these events or to purchase tickets, visit the ESC website at www.earlscruggscenter.org

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