Remembering a legend

By Keith Strange Staff Reporter

September 24, 2013

Organizers say there are only a few tickets left for the night performance of what has become a Mayberry Days favorite: The Doug Dillard Tribute Concert.

According to Surry Arts Council President Tanya Jones, performances are set for 2 p.m., and 7 p.m., Friday at the Andy Griffith Playhouse.

“There are still a few tickets available for the 7 p.m., performance but it’s almost sold out,” she said. “We do have tickets available for the matinee performance.”

And the performers are eagerly awaiting their turn on stage at what longtime Dillard collaborator Ginger Boatright called “the most fun place to play ever.”

Dillard and Boatright performed at every Mayberry Days since its inception in 1990. He died in May 2011 after a battle with a lung ailment.

He was widely regarded as a virtuoso on the banjo, Boatright said.

“I worked with him for over 30 years, and he has a special place in my heart. We were partners, I didn’t work for him. We toured all over and Mayberry Days was his favorite place to play,” she said. “He was just an amazing man and a brilliant banjo player. “

While Boatright said being on stage at Mayberry Days without Dillard, who performed on The Andy Griffith Show as part of the band the Darlings, is hard, she said she can’t imagine missing the festival.

“Last year was very hard,” she said quietly. “But it’s such a fun festival we just love coming and performing for people who are more our friends than our audience. It just feels like home. Before I got married to my current husband, I’d sold my house and was fixing to move to Mount Airy. But then I met a man and fell in love. But I just love Mount Airy.”

This year’s line-up includes Boatright, Maggie Peterson who performed on the television show as Charlene Darling, and two newcomers — Roland White annd Leroy McNees, who performed as The Country Boys on The Andy Griffith Show.

Local artists Jimmy Vipperman on fiddle, Hercie McMillian on banjo and Rick Pardue on bass will round out the lineup.

“We expect that Roland’s wife Diane Boucska will also perform,” Boatright said.

And she said she hopes the audience enjoys the performance as much as the performers.

“We’re going to be doing some of the songs from the television show, including “Whoa, Mule,” which Andy sang with the Darlings on the show,” she said.

Boatright said she wants the event to be a celebration of Dillard’s life, contributions and talents.

“He was noted for his fast banjo playing and his big grin. In fact a few years before his death, Earl Scruggs said Doug was the greatest banjo player alive,” she said. “He was a great, wonderful human being, and I think the world is a whole lot darker without him in it. He made you happy just to be around him.

“I hope the people enjoy it,” Boatright added. “We’re going to have fun and remember him up there with that big old grin.

“When he got too frail and couldn’t work anywhere else, he’d still come to Mayberry Days.”

Tickets for the performances are $25, and can be purchased through the Surry Arts Council at 786-7998.

Reach Keith Strange at or 719-1929.