Not even banjo master Earl Scruggs goes back as far into the roots of bluegrass music as Hickory-based fiddler and composer Jim Shumate. In fact, Shumate, who had begun fiddling on the Grand Ole Opry with Bill Monroe & the Blue Grass Boys in 1943, brought Scruggs to Monroe´s attention, paving the way for the classic bluegrass sound. Five years later, Shumate became the first fiddler for Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs, and the Foggy Mountain Boys, the most popular bluegrass band of all time. Although Shumate retired from full-time music 51 years ago, he has continued to perform and record. PineCone brings this North Carolina Folk Heritage honoree to Garner´s Lake Benson Park for a free concert at 6 p.m. on Saturday. For info: 990-1900.
The Triangle has become a hot bed for alternative country music with few stars brighter in our scene than Tift Merritt. Though small in stature, Merritt looms large in talent. She combines superior songwriting (which won the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest at MerleFest 2000), an unforgettable voice, and solid guitar work into a complete package with the soul of classic honky-tonk and the energy of rock. Backed by the Carbines, the group for whom she passed on a record deal to maintain, Merritt appears at The ArtsCenter in Carrboro at 8 p.m. Friday with Thad Cockrell and the Starlite Country Band opening. $8 general public, $6 for ArtsCenter Friends. For info: 929-2787. --Art Menius