This Is Carolina: Pee Dee musicians string up new interest in bluegrass

“It’s our music.”
Published: May. 18, 2023 at 6:30 PM EDT
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DARLINGTON, S.C. (WMBF) - Bluegrass music is making a huge comeback in the Palmetto State.

“It’s America’s music. It’s part of a roots music,” said Stan Thompson, the Vice President of the Southeastern Bluegrass Association of South Carolina.

And it’s playing right in our own backyard at The Grand Old Post Office in Darlington.

“I think Bill Monroe came up with the perfect instrumental combination. The fiddle, the guitar, the banjo, the mandolin and the bass,” said Rob Jordan, President of the Southeastern Bluegrass Association of South Carolina.

The combination creates the harmonious music known as bluegrass. The genre Monroe created in the 1940s consists of acoustic stringed instruments that blend other tunes together, including Irish music, jazz and country.

“It has the element of improvisation and it’s just typically real fast, hard-driving music and I like to play fast,” said Thompson.

Bluegrass music strikes a chord with Stan Thompson and his longtime friend Rob Jordan, who met through their mutual love of the off-beat rhythm. The two played in several bands together over the years.

“None of them were great, but we had a good time. We played a lot of places, we had a lot of fun and made friendships that still endure today,” said Thompson.

There’s no sheet music to create the musical magic. It’s all about discipline, practice and most of all, timing.

“A group of good musicians doesn’t necessarily make a good band. A lot of it is about the personalities and how well they gel,” he said.

When the duo isn’t playing and singing, they’re inviting bluegrass bands like Tim Shelton Syndicate, to perform at the 100-year-old post office that’s now an elaborate event hall.

The Southeastern Bluegrass Association of South Carolina also plays host to bluegrass open mic night, music lessons and scholarship programs for kids, that include donated guitars.

Their main goal is to keep the toe-tapping rhythm alive for generations to come.

“Rob’s vision and I know mine as well, is to get younger artists and get younger people engaged so that hopefully it carries on,” said Thompson. “It’s our music.”

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