Bluegrass tradition to be highlighted

By Andy Winemiller -

Old-time music aficionados are in for a treat this weekend at the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History’s monthly History Talks event.

At 2 p.m. on Sunday the museum will play host to Penny Parsons, a biographer who, according to museum director Matt Edwards, is quite an expert in the history of bluegrass music in the area.

Parsons recently published Foggy Mountain Troubadour: The Life and Music of Curly Seckler, a biography about a man who Edwards said played a key role in both the development and the revival of bluegrass music.

Edwards said Seckler, who is from China Grove, is most well known for his role as the mandolin player for Ralph Stanley and Earl Scruggs and was as musically influential as the two music stars.

He expects the History Talks event, which will even include a live bluegrass performance, to be a hit with the local populace.

“Throughout the year we bring in experts in niche aspects of regional history,” said Edwards as he explained the program. “We really run the gamut in terms of topics and time frames.”

“This area is tremendously rich in bluegrass and old-time music tradition. Sunday’s program will play to the music aspect of the area’s history.”

Parsons said she has lived a life immersed in bluegrass music.

“I started working in the business in 1981,” said Parsons, explaining she was first drawn to the music genre by the Flatt and Scruggs television show and a performance by the duo during her college years.

She has had a career in bluegrass, writing for a bluegrass publication, producing and working for Sugar Hills Records. Her book, in fact, finds its roots in her work for Bluegrass Unlimited.

“It started as an article,” explained Parsons. “He had so many stories, I thought this could be a book.

For a bluegrass fan, Parsons said few people are more interesting than Seckler.

“His history is the history of bluegrass,” said Parsons of Seckler, who is 96 years old. “He participated in the entire history of bluegrass and was playing before bluegrass.”

Parsons said her program will include many photographs and some videos, and for those who may not be bluegrass fans, Seckler’s life paints a larger picture.

“His life offers a glimpse of what life was like during that part of the century and a glimpse into Southern culture,” explained Parsons.

Parsons also noted Seckler is a member of the Bluegrass Hall of Fame and the N.C. Music Hall of Fame.

She said bluegrass fans can learn more about the life and music of Seckler at her website,

For more information regarding Sunday’s History Talks event, one may call the museum at 786-4478.

By Andy Winemiller

Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.

Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.

comments powered by Disqus