If you happen to be around the Cleveland County Court Square in Uptown Shelby on the evening of Saturday, July 13, 2019, you might think you hear bluegrass music wafting on the late-day breeze. If so, be assured that it is not your imagination but rather the sounds of Pickin' on the Square, a summer tradition for the Earl Scruggs Center (ESC).
Musicians are encouraged to come jam informally around the square from 5- 8 p.m. that evening.
"We encourage pickers to come out and join the jam and any others to bring a lawn chair and enjoy the music," says Mary Beth Martin, executive director of the ESC. "In addition to having room to run and play on the court square, we will have an activity for children, and new this year - we have invited food trucks to park around the court square to offer food and drinks for attendees."
Martin says musicians coming together to play in an informal session is a long-time tradition for this area.
"By definition, a jam is an open gathering of musicians where everyone is welcomed and encouraged to participate, regardless of playing level or experience. It is particularly important to traditional and bluegrass music, because this is often how the music is passed down from generation to generation," says Martin. "The Earl Scruggs Center continues to host Pickin' on the Square because we want to celebrate this tradition, provide a place for musicians to gather, and ensure that bluegrass music is recognized for its important influence on our region's musical heritage."
Martin says that many of the same musicians attend each session of Pickin' on the Square, many of whom are well recognized in the local bluegrass and music community.
"At the same time, there are always new faces, and we want to encourage even more to come out," says Martin. "I especially love to see young musicians join in, because this is a great opportunity for them to learn more about the music and to take part in the tradition.
"The musicians at Pickin' on the Square, like in any jam session, take turns singing and taking instrumental breaks. It is a great opportunity for the pickers to show off their stuff. But it is also certainly acceptable to just play along without being in the spotlight."
In addition to the July 13 session, the last Pickin' on the Square of summer 2019 will take place on Saturday, Aug. 17, also from 5 - 8 p.m.
For more information, visit the ESC website at www.EarlScruggsCenter.org or find them on Facebook by searching for "Earl Scruggs Center."
By April Hoyle-Shauf, Special to Community First Media