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Green Acres Music Hall, Revisited

Sam Bush on the outdoor stage at Green Acres Music Hall
Sam Bush on the outdoor stage at Green Acres Music Hall

Back in 2018, we dove into the history and culture of a beloved venue that was its own cultural phenomenon over a span of nearly four decades. It was a sprawling, quirky, at times surprising and almost always joyful tale; those first three episodes of our Green Acres series totaled almost three hours (they started with fifteen separate interviews totaling over five hours), and included 19 songs or portions of songs played live at the venue.  

Those episodes detailed the history of the Acres, from its inception as a spot for dancing and country music to its embrace of Bluegrass and progressive acoustic bands, to the addition of an outdoor stage and larger and larger crowds in later years. In those first three episodes you can hear about how owner Nile Cuthbertson started Green Acres, how Steve Metcalf became its front man, while the episodes include a lot of context on external forces at play in the music scene locally and nationally in the 1970s, 80s and 90s. 

People are just as ready to talk about Green Acres today as they were when we made those first episodes. Additionally, many artists who played there are set to perform at the inaugural Earl Scruggs Music Festival on Labor Day weekend in 2022, and that got me thinking about revisiting the Acres by reworking all those hours of interviews and including many portions of our conversations that were left out the first time. Now, we put forward Green Acres alumni Bela Fleck, Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas, Darin Aldridge, and Acoustic Syndicate in this new context, as well as the person who made an indelible impact on the whole shebang, Steve Metcalf.

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Joe Kendrick grew up far off in the woods in rural Stanfield, NC, where he acquired his first Sony Walkman, listened to both AM and FM radio from Charlotte, went to Nascar races at Charlotte Motor Speedway, attended a small Baptist church, read Rolling Stone, subscribed to cassette clubs, and played one very forgettable season of high school football. From there, Joe studied Journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was able to fulfill his dream of being a disc jockey at WXYC. He volunteered at WNCW soon after graduation.