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‘North Carolina Musicians: Photographs and Conversations’

By Jeff Eason (

Article Published: Dec. 5, 2013 | Modified: Dec. 5, 2013
‘North Carolina Musicians: Photographs and Conversations’

When it comes to producing world-class musicians, few states can boast of the amazing variety that North Carolina can.

We’re famous for our folk and bluegrass musicians, such as Doc Watson and Earl Scruggs. Our contribution to the jazz world includes Thelonious Monk and Nina Simone. And we pretty much invented beach music.

Daniel Coston, a writer and photographer who has been covering the Carolina music scene for the past two decades, has created a wonderful book of photographs and interviews that documents that scene from approximately 2000 to the present.

Coston’s “North Carolina Musicians: Photographs and Conversations” was released earlier this year from McFarland publishers. It features 200 pages of incredibly intimate portraits of famous and not-so-famous musicians on stage, backstage, in the studio and just hanging out.

“What drew me in, and still drives me to document it, is the ongoing history of the music,” Coston said. “All guitarists and genres lead you to Doc Watson. Every banjo player leads you to Earl Scruggs. The further you dive in, the more you find the music leading you forward, to the music of The Avett Brothers, the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Chatham County Line and many more. The history and music of North Carolina is always changing, always growing and, thankfully, never ends.”

While Coston’s new book includes plenty of photos of world renowned musicians, such as Watson, Scruggs, James Taylor and Ben Folds, it is the photos of lesser known artists that make it so rewarding. Some of these musicians, such as Chris Stamey and Peter Holsapple of the dB’s or Rick Miller of Southern Culture on the Skids, have been mainstays of the North Carolina club and recording studio scene for the past four decades. Others, such as the Rosebuds, Roman Candles and Megafaun, are relatively new to Carolina audiences.

The book also features articles, interviews and photographs of Boone’s own Chip Taylor and Todd Henderson of The Port Huron Statement, Tift Merritt, Mercury Dime, Kingsbury Manx, Jennyanykind, David Holt, Maurice Williams, Bob Margolin, Nappy Brown, Billy “Crash” Craddock, the Spongetones, Superchunk, Dexter Romweber and many others.

What they all have in common is a love of music and a determination to make it as professionals.
One of the chapters of the new book is dedicated to the music festivals of North Carolina. Some of them, such as the Ola Belle Reed Festival and the Mountain Dance Festival, are fairly specific about what kinds of music they host, while others, such as Bele Chere and MerleFest, feature a wide range of genres.

Another chapter of the book details the recording studios of North Carolina. Insightful articles give the reader glimpses into Mitch Easter’s fun and funky Fidelitorium Studios in Kernersville, Reflection Studios in Charlotte, with its long-running history with producer and musician Don Dixon, and others.
“North Carolina Musicians” does a wonderful job of showing how our local music scenes can have an impact nationwide or globally.

“Now more than ever, the music of North Carolina is everywhere,” Coston said. “In nine years, I have seen The Avett Brothers go from playing wine bars to the fabled Glastonbury Festival in England. The Carolina Chocolate Drops have starred in movies, Chatham County Line has sold multiple gold records in Norway, and artists, such as Ryan Adams and Ben Folds, continue to have a global following.”

For more information or to order a copy of “North Carolina Musicians,” call (800) 253-2187, or visit

McFarland titles are available from all major e-book providers, including Google Play and Amazon Kindle.

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