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Terry Baucom: A Life in Bluegrass

Like many kids who grew up on The Beverly Hillbillies, Terry Baucom was drawn to Earl Scruggs and his banjo-playing skills. In 1962, when he was ten, Terry asked his parents for a banjo in 1962. “He still has that banjo,” says his wife, Cindy Baucom. “Instead of trading up like many musicians do, Terry kept each of his instruments. He says they were like his children.”

Terry first played on stage with his father’s band, The Rocky River Boys. “They played local festivals and fiddlers conventions near his hometown of Monroe, North Carolina. When he was 14, Terry began playing the fiddle. After graduating high school in 1970, Terry played fiddle professionally with Charlie Moore and the Dixie Partners. “They played the Grand Ole Opry and for Ernest Tubb’s Midnight Jamboree radio program on WSM in Nashville. That was a pretty big way to start his music career,” says Cindy.

In 1975, Ricky Skaggs formed Boone Creek and recruited Terry to play fiddle. Jerry Douglas played Dobro, and Wes Golding played guitar. Marc Pruett was slated to play banjo, but he and his brother had recently purchased a music store in Ashville.

“Marc said he couldn’t go on the road and leave his brother alone to run the store, so he backed out,” Cindy explains. “Terry stepped up and said he could play banjo.” The plan was to let Terry play banjo until Ricky found someone else. “Once they heard Terry play banjo, that’s where he stayed. They did the Holiday Inn circuit,” Cindy says. “Six days a week, they would play in a Holiday Inn lounge, and on weekends they would play festivals.”

Terry played on Boone Creek’s first album, a self-titled LP on Rounder Records. He also played on Boone Creek’s second album, One Way Track, on Sugar Hill Records. “It’s the first number in the Sugar Hill catalog,” says Cindy.

Terry was a founding Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver member in 1979, playing banjo and singing bass in the quartets. He stayed until 1985 and appeared on Quicksilver’s first five full-length albums. He then formed The New Quicksilver with Alan Bibey, Jimmy Haley and Randy Graham. The New Quicksilver album from the mid-1980s was later released as Baucom, Bibey, Graham and Haley on Rebel Records. In the early 1990s, Terry joined Russell Moore, Mike Hartgrove, Alan Bibey and Ray Deaton to form IIIrd Tyme Out. He was on the first two releases that included some of the band’s signature songs like “Erase the Miles” and “Lower on the Hog.”

Immediately following his departure from IIIrd Tyme Out, Lou Reid, Terry Baucom and Carolina was formed. Two more ground-breaking albums followed, as well as the first-ever Emerging Artist Award presented by the International Bluegrass Music Association. The band BlueRidge followed a partnership with Alan Bibey.

Terry taught banjo and fiddle in the Charlotte, North Carolina, area when he wasn't touring. As a freelancer, he worked with Kenny and Amanda Smith, Dale Ann Bradley, Mashville Brigade, Mark Newton Band, Mountain Heart with Tony Rice, Josh Williams and more.

Terry met Cindy at various festivals.

“My dad played, and I was in his band. Terry and I just got to know each other over the years. It has been so nice that we both have a passion for bluegrass in common.” The couple married on March 21, 2003. “It was the first day of spring, and Terry says that was the ideal day for new beginnings.”

Due to health concerns, Terry was forced to leave the stage and road in May of this year. For the last decade of his career, he led his band, Terry Baucom’s Dukes of Drive and has six recordings on his own Driving Duke Record label, with multiple songs reaching number one on the Bluegrass Today weekly, monthly, and year-end charts.

Well recognized for his musical abilities, Terry has been inducted into the Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame and has a dozen IBMA awards on his shelves. He was presented with the Distinguished Achievement Award at the 2023 IBMA Awards Show.

“Terry is just the most laid-back, likable person,” says Cindy. “It is such a pleasure for me to be his wife and to have helped him with his career for the past twenty years.”

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