Article Contributed by Victory Lap PR | Published on Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Earl Scruggs Music Festival treated bluegrass fans to an unforgettable musical experience this weekend at Tryon International Equestrian Center, delivering an explosion of show-stopping performances across three days. Returning to Mill Spring, NC for the second time ever, Scruggs Fest more than doubled in attendance from its inaugural year, bringing world-class entertainment, thought-provoking workshops, and countless on-site experiences including horseback riding, bourbon tasting, golf, and more to Earl’s home region.

Gates opened bright and early on Friday morning, as guests were greeted to a bustling Foggy Mountain stage where performers from the Blue Ridge Heritage Area Fine Tuned Project kicked off a day of nonstop music from The Wilder Flower, ETSU Bluegrass Pride Band, Pretty Little Goat, Jake Blount, Shawn Camp of The Earls of Leicester, and more. On the Flint Hill stage, banjo masters Tony Trischka, Charlie Cushman, Rob McCoury, Gena Britt, Ben Wright, and Pete Wernick (AKA “Dr. Banjo”) delivered a blazing superjam before GRAMMY-nominated female five-piece Sister Sadie dazzled the crowd with their powerhouse vocals and first-rate picking. Later, The Earls of Leicester carried out a rollicking set of Scruggs standards and bluegrass singalongs, setting the scene for the honorable Del McCoury to take the stage. The Infamous Stringdusters closed out the night with a smashing collection of jam-grass anthems and toe-tapping numbers, including fan favorite “Fork in the Road,” as well as a spirited cover of The Grateful Dead’s “Scarlet Begonias,” where festival host and artist-in-residence Jerry Douglas sat in on the dobro.

Saturday saw an abundance of young talent with the PacJAM Ramblers and The Biscuit Eaters taking to the Foggy Mountain stage. The two awe-inspiring youth outfits are just a small example of torch-bearers who make up the next generation of traditional music. In the afternoon, the indelible Tony Trischka brought the heat on the Flint Hill stage with his “Tribute to Earl” set while Tray Wellington Band captivated the audience with his dynamic fusion of banjo-forward folk and roots, even employing a bluegrass cover of Kid Cudi’s “Pursuit of Happiness.” By mid-afternoon, the Foggy Mountain stage was overflowing with eager fans as they anxiously awaited the resurrection of Earl Scruggs Revue, presented by The Bluegrass Situation. Back by popular demand, the hour-long celebration featured house band Tony Trischka Band & Friends and a potpourri of special guests including Paul Hoffman and Anders Beck of Greensky Bluegrass, Pete Wernick, members of Twisted Pine and Della Mae, Michael Cleveland, Jerry Douglas, and more performing Earl Scruggs Revue’s 1977 Live! From Austin City Limits album in its entirety. Returning to the festival for a second time, Darin & Brooke Aldridge and Jon Stickley Trio performed mind blowing back-to-back sets ahead of GRAMMY-nominated all female string band Della Mae, who commanded the main stage with choice picks from their original catalog, as well as an exquisite cover of Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young’s powerful protest anthem, “Ohio.” Arriving all the way from Ireland, renowned acoustic-roots ensemble I Draw Slow burned down the house with a well rounded variety of excitable fiddle tunes and poignant ballads before jam-grass titans Greensky Bluegrass closed down the main stage with a staggering set that included signature tracks “Past My Prime” and “Time > Breathe Reprise >” before jumping into an emotional cover of the late Jimmy Buffett’s “Come Monday.”

On Sunday, Darin & Brooke Aldridge transported festival goers to “church” with their moving Gospel Brunch set before Rissi Palmer brought her soulful sensibilities to an enthusiastic afternoon crowd. Later, award-winning fiddler Michael Cleveland and his band Flamekeeper blessed the Flint Hill stage with unbelievable virtuosity; Jerry Douglas Band delivered a marathon of inventive arrangements; and Reedy River String Band brought a foot-stompin’ good time to the Foggy Mountain stage. Closing out the main stage was none other than American legend, Emmylou Harris, performing a moving collection of classics like “Pancho and Lefty” and an a cappella rendition of “Calling My Children Home” before welcoming all Scruggs Fest performers for a singalong of Scruggs standards, “My Home’s Across the Blue Ridge Mountains,” and “Foggy Mountain Top.” Rounding out the weekend were memorable sit-ins by Michael Cleveland, who joined Greensky Bluegrass, Della Mae, Tony Trischka, and more during their sets; The Biscuit Eaters, who jammed with Jerry Douglas Band at their main stage performance; and of course, festival host Jerry Douglas, whose unrivaled dobro chops paid complement to nearly every performance that took place throughout the festival.

Besides the excellent lineup of music, festival attendees also enjoyed workshops, panel discussions, and interactive jam sessions on the Legends Workshop stage. Highlights included “Secrets of Scruggs Style,” hosted by Tony Trischka, “Earl Scruggs: Music Man from the Piedmont,” featuring personal anecdotes from Earl’s nephew, J.T. Scruggs, and a Wernick method jam class, hosted by “Dr. Banjo" himself, Pete Wernick.

Held annually on the immaculate campus of Tryon International Equestrian Center, Earl Scruggs Music Festival is a one-of-a-kind event. Boasting a variety of on-site shops and restaurants, lodging opportunities, and comfortable amenities, Tryon International serves as the perfect homebase for this celebration of Earl’s life and legacy. All sights are set on the festival’s return, coming the weekend of August 30-September 1, 2024. Early Bird passes and Three Bedroom Cabin reservations on sale now – secure your spot today, and be among the first to support Scruggs Fest beneficiaries Earl Scruggs Center, WNCW 88.7, and Isothermal Community College for another year.

Purchase 2024 Tickets Here!