Bluegrass Legends Headline Fall Masters Series at UNCW

The Travelin’ McCourys

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Legendary bluegrass masters Peter Rowan, Cody Kilby of Kentucky Thunder and The Travelin’ McCourys pay tribute to the undisputed father of bluegrass Bill Monroe at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 29 in UNCW’s Kenan Auditorium.  The performance is part of the UNCW Office of Cultural Arts Masters Series that annually features artists and works of cultural and historic significance.

The program was initially to include flatpicking guitarist Tony Rice, but due to an illness, Rice had to cancel all of his appearances this week. It was later confirmed that Kilby, a National Flatpicking Champion would replace him.  Ronnie McCoury, who was instrumental in getting Kilby to fill in for Rice, commented, "Cody is absolutely one of my favorite bluegrass pickers and while we are saddened by Tony Rice’s illness we cannot think of a better replacement.”

Few artists can claim to have created a genre all their own, but Bill Monroe (Sep. 13, 1911 – Sep. 9, 1996) did exactly that when he added North Carolina banjo prodigy Earl Scruggs to his traditional string band in 1945. Known as the Blue Grass Boys, Monroe and Scruggs, alongside singer/guitarist Lester Flatt, fiddler Chubby Wise and bassist Howard Watts, forged new ground, creating a unique genre of American music. Additionally, they forever changed the course of American rock-and-roll with one of their most famous songs, "Blue Moon of Kentucky" - an early hit for an up-and-coming musician named Elvis Presley.

More than a century after his birth on a small farm in Kentucky, Monroe's music remains the canon for traditional bluegrass masters and the inspiration for generations of bluegrass-inspired musicians, including the exclusive line-up of musicians paying homage to Monroe on Nov. 29. 

Grammy-award winner and six-time Grammy nominee, Peter Rowan is a bluegrass singer-songwriter with a career spanning five decades. From his early years playing under the tutelage of bluegrass patriarch Monroe to a stint in Old & In the Way with Jerry Garcia and subsequent breakout as both a solo performer and bandleader, Rowan has built a devoted, international fan base through a continuous stream of original recordings, collaborative projects and touring.

As the sons of bluegrass legend Del McCoury, Ronnie McCoury (mandolin) and Rob McCoury (banjo) continue in the tradition of their father and the “Father of Bluegrass” himself,  Bill Monroe.  Along with fiddler Jason Carter and bassist Alan Bartram, The Travelin’ McCourys are beloved and respected by the bluegrass faithful and quickly gaining ground in other genres. Their collaborative spirit has lead to performances with a range of musicians, including Warren Haynes, Phish, Preservation Hall Jazz Band and the Lee Boys.

Growing up in Cowan, Tennessee, Cody Kilby picked up his dad’s banjo at age 8 and had a Gibson Banjo endorsement by the time he was 11.  He started playing his mom’s guitar at 10, and by 17, he was the National Flatpicking Champion.  He added mandolin and dobro at around age 13, and at 16, recorded Just Me, a recording which displayed his mastery of each instrument.  While touring with Sally Jones and the Sidewinders, he caught the ear of Ricky Skaggs, joining Kentucky Thunder in 2001.  Cody’s lightning-fast picking can be heard on a number of projects, including his recently released solo project, Many Roads Traveled. 

Tickets range from $25 to $35 for reserved seating. For more information, call the Kenan Auditorium Box Office from noon to 6 p.m. Monday – Friday at (910) 962-3500 or (800) 732-3643 or go online to uncw.edu/arts.