Almost in the manner of a latter-day Prometheus, Earl Scruggs brought a gift down from the mountain to share with all humanity: bluegrass banjo. In describing Scruggs' importance to the banjo, hyperbole is nearly impossible. The bluegrass genre and Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys took off after Scruggs joined them in 1945, and his rapid-fire, three-finger picking style of banjo was so distinctive that it was named after him. After his stint with Monroe, he became half of the famed bluegrass duo Flatt and Scruggs. Even nonfans have heard them if they've heard "The Ballad of Jed Clampett."
A native of Shelby, N.C., Earl Scruggs is a living legend, awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Grammys two years ago. He's joined tonight by local legends the Red Clay Ramblers, a theatrical mishmash of a string band that's adhered to a fun and loose aesthetic for nearly 40 years. —Andrew Ritchey