We had the pleasure this past Saturday to spend the evening in Shelby, NC at the Earl Scruggs Center. If you know my dad, Joe Hardin, then I am sure you have heard him talk about watching Scruggs in his youth.
So, like a kid in a candy shop, we enjoyed an after hours tour of the museum. I have to say, I was thoroughly surprised by the amount of technology utilized in the exhibits. Each guest receives a set of ear phones which they can plug into any number of areas to really explore.
Everything from radio samples over the decades, differences in banjos, local voices and most impressively, an interactive table. My 8 year old son went with us and was particularly amazed at how he could manipulate the screen on this table to view pictures, videos, listen to songs and clips, or even have anyone around the table opt in to a jam session. He was partial to playing the banjo which I felt fitting considering where we were!
The museum itself would have justified our short drive over the state line, but our night wasn’t finished. There was a jam session hosted by the center under the direction of Mary Beth Martin. People from any skill level were welcome and encouraged to join (something we are familiar with for sure!). Of course, Dad couldn’t help himself as beginners found their way to him for some on the spot advice.
There were multiple groups set up on the property so listeners could meander between and everyone had a chance to shine. Jam sessions have a magical ability to have strangers come together and with no set list, manage entire songs with solos assigned on the fly with little more than a nod.
All in all, we had a great trip. I encourage anyone who loves the history of bluegrass music to spend some time at the Earl Scruggs Center. I also appreciate everyone who is following along on our adventures as we try to make connections with some of my father’s greatest influences.
For more information, visit the Earl Scruggs Center Website