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Earl Scruggs Music Festival 2023

From festival kickoff to finale — Pete’s report on the 2nd Annual Earl Scruggs Music Festival, Mill Springs, NC

This very special festival had a huge growth surge in only its second year, with a great facility and a strong lineup featuring many major headliners as well as excellent lesser-known bands from North Carolina and elsewhere. There were panels and workshops focused on Scruggs (with Charlie Cushman, Tony Trischka and myself), and Jerry Douglas, the festival host along with Earl’s nephew J.T. Scruggs.

I did a mostly solo set, helped out by 15 year-old whiz Ettore Buzzini (from Mooresville, NC) on guitar and banjo-dueting with me on two 50+ year-old Country Cooking favorites — recorded 35 years before he was born (2007). Good picker!

I coordinated the 6-banjo festival kickoff with Charlie, Tony, Rob McCoury, Gena Britt, and Ben Wright, and was on the festival finale as well, shown here briefly — “My Home’s Across the Blue Ridge Mountains” with Emmylou Harris, Darren and Brooke Aldridge, and Fayssoux Starling singing at the mic. This is an exceptionally good festival… a beautiful up-to-date facility with a good community feeling and a first rate talent lineup that blended major bands with good but lesser-known bands — all honoring Mr. Scruggs. I did a workshop with Tony Trischka and Charlie Cushman recounting Earl experiences and trivia with gusto, like the Earl-geeks we are. And on the last day, I hosted a jam workshop with teachers and students from JAM (Junior Appalachian Musicians). They told me 100 people came, and we made a mighty sound!

If you have photos of the banjo kickoff with 6 of us (Rob, Gena, Tony, Charlie, Ben) picking in unison, or the jam workshop, please share and we’ll put them up. This was a festival to remember.

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