The Bluegrass Experience: Celebrating 48 years!
North Carolina’s Tommy Edwards & The Bluegrass Experience are celebrating their 48th year of picking and singing some of the best bluegrass in the country.
During the past 48 years or so, the band has fielded a total of only 12 members. Of the six founders, three have passed on and two, guitarist Edwards and bassist Thomas “Snuffy” Smith, remain with the group to this day. They have four albums to their credit and are looking forward to a special show at The Cary Theater.
Things got started, as they often do in this bluegrass-rich region, with six friends competing together at the many fiddlers conventions in western North Carolina.
When they won the World’s Championship Bluegrass Band at The Union Grove Fiddler’s Convention in 1972, the Experience was off and running, becoming a fixture at the Carlton Haney festivals and finding plenty of dates on the burgeoning college music scene.
They were invited to perform at the Finnish National Folk Festival in 1975, the only American band to be asked, and hosted a regular Thursday night show at Cat’s Cradle in Chapel Hill for nine years starting in ’72.
Those shows at the Cradle often included visiting artists like Peter Rowan, Bobby Hicks, Dan Crary and Tony Williamson hopping up on stage to join them.
Tommy’s wife, Cindy, shared a few words about the musicians who have and continue to work with The Bluegrass Experience:
“Notable members through the years include Fiddlin’ Al McCanless who helped found the group in 1971. Not only was he the featured fiddler on the Folkways album, The Red Clay Ramblers with Fiddlin’ Al McCanless, he had previously played with The New Deal String Band, the ground-breaking new grass group that recorded an album for London records in 1969.
“And from that same band, vocalist Leroy Savage came to The Experience in 1978 and stayed until 1981.
“Former Bluegrass Boy Stan ‘Stanjo’ Brown is the band’s current banjo player, and former Bass Mountain Boy Michael Aldridge is the mandolinist. The fiddler is Keith Thomas who has worked with notable area bands as well as Lorraine Jordan and Carolina Road.
“Jimmy Cameron who played bass for five years with Doctor Ralph Stanley & The Clinch Mountain Boys was the band’s mandolin player for several years, and two pioneers of North Carolina bluegrass, mandolinist Paul Beane and his banjo-playing brother Donald Beane were original members of the group.”
Will Call tickets may be picked up at the box office beginning one hour prior to the concert.
For assistance with accessible seating requests at The Cary Theater after 3pm on Friday and throughout the weekend, please contact the general box office at 919-462-2055, and/or reach out to the House Manager beginning one hour prior to the performance.