The Clog, like the Shag, is one of two improvisational dances in the Carolinas.  It survives and evolves in the mountains and beyond.   Carolina Beach music is in its (ca) 80th year.  And with it one of the oldest improvisational dances in America - The Shag.  The Clog extended deep roots into Carolina soil much earlier.

            An English musicoligist and dance historian saw this first hand in the 1920s when he travelled to the Appalachians and visited Maggie Valley to the west of us here.  There he discovered a dance which he had read about as a boy, but which had disappeared in England 50 years earlier.  What he found was a dance called Clogging.  He said it was similar to what existed in Europe among the Scottish, English, Irish and others, but that it had evolved far beyond where it had been. 

           That was the inspiration of Sam Queen and his dance troupe.  Clogging is particularly well-suited for the Scots and Irish and others of the Appalachians.  Its the dance of thifty, hard-working people who--despite the hardships of their lives--still have the capacity to celebrate life.  The Clog is an improvisational dance that allows for individual expression and invention in a community celebration.  All three values:  improvisation, individual expression and community celebration are virtues conserved and celebrated in the Shag as well.

           Bland Simpson and Art Menius's descriptions of Bluegrass music and culture are found in where they explai that bluegrass is rooted in music performed by banjo, fiddle, mandolin, and guitar which produce a "high lonesome sound" which may move as fast as a runaway train in the Appalachians or slow and mournful as the blues.  

           Simpson and Menius state the primary difference between bluegrass and the old timey country music that came before it, is found in the banjo styles of the two.  In old timey country, banjo players use the 'clawhammer' style while bluegrass players use the "three-finger roll or crawl style" evolved by Earl Scruggs from Cleveland County in North Carolina.  A well-known form of American folk music, bluegrass takes its name from legendary Kentuckian Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys who recorded their first bluegrass tunes in Charlotte, NC.

           According to Simpson and Menius, the bluegrass style offered by Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys, with Scruggs "revolutionary banjo playing" swept North Carolina after 1945.  Scruggs went on to form his own duo, Flatt and Scruggs.  From the early days of bluegrass, there were lots of "North Carolinians" or bands who "performed on radio stations in the state," but few who became famous at the time. "Among the best known were Hack Johnson and His Tennesseans, the Church Brothers, and the Murphy Brothers (S&M ncpedia)."

           Another American bluegrass ambassador is Arthel "Doc" Watson, Deep Gap, North Carolina banjo player and flat-picking guitarist. 

           Menius and Simpson list other important North Carolinians in the folk and acoustic music world including Charlotte's Arthur C. Smith, the Bluegrass Experiencethe Sons of Ralph (Lewis) Featuring Ralph, and the Shady Grove Band. Important twentieth-century North Carolina banjo players in bluegrass and related genres include Charlie Poole, Tommy Jarrell (a National Folk Heritage Award winner), Fred Cockerham, Bascom Lamar Lunsford, George Pegram, Kyle Creed, Clarence Tom Ashley, Dink Roberts, John Snipes, Odell Thompson, Jan Davidson, Don Lewis, Lynn Smathers, Nancy Sluys, and Union Grove old-time banjo champion, Hollow Rock String Band member, and Red Clay Ramblers founder Tommy Thompson.

           Bluegrass festivals occur all over North Carolina and the South from early spring until late fall. One of the most legendary is late April's Merle Watson Festival, called MerleFest, in Wilkesboro, named for and held in memory of Doc Watson's late son.   (Our gratitude to Menius and Simpson and

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