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In Your Ear Episode 76: Sammy Shelor

Sammy Shelor and friends
Sammy Shelor and friends at Hardywood. (Photo courtesy of JAMinc.)

Sammy Shelor is a proud native son of southwest Virginia still calling Meadows of Dan home. His granddad famously fashioned a banjo out of an old pressure cooker lid when Sammy was just four years old with the promise of a real one once he learned a couple of songs.

The promise was kept and the rest is the stuff of five string history as Sammy became one of the instrument’s most respected stylists, winning the IBMA’s Banjo Player of the Year five times and taking the highly coveted Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass in 2011.

He joined Richmond’s own Heights of Grass at age 19, which evolved into six years with the groundbreaking Virginia Squires. He would join the Lonesome River Band in 1990, and still leads LRB with tenacity and creativity.

JAMinc board member Andy Garrigue had the idea of asking Sammy to play a plugged-in show with some hand-picked friends, something different from a regular band gig and including a hot electric guitar. What you’re about to hear is the result of that request, a special evening of Telegrass recorded live in the Barrel Room at Hardywood in December of 2021.


JAMinc's In Your Ear concert series presents a wide range of both rising and established artists in an engaging live environment. All the shows were staged and well-recorded in Studio A, until the pandemic prohibited that kind of proximity. Some of this new season of programs were live-streamed for the first time from Studio A with NO audience. You can watch those streams in their entirety here...others were held in Hardywood Brewing's Barrel Room in Scott's Addition. The concert series dates back to 2004 and we're grateful to Carlos Chafin, Andrea Bucheit and Paul Bruski at In Your Ear for their enduring partnership and commitment to live music in our community. We'd also like to thank Catherine Poston and Kevin Willoughby at Hardywood for providing us with such an inviting alternative venue. JAMinc president Tim Timberlake produces and hosts the programs covering a wide range of genres including bluegrass, folk, jazz, blues, old time, Celtic, gospel and singer-songwriters of many styles. Concerts are typically held monthly except during the summer...check our website for information and reservations: jaminc.org/events.

Production support for JAMinc Presents In Your Ear is provided by Digital Video Group, Threshold Counsel PC, Fralin Pickups, Virginia Humanities and the Virginia Folklife Program, the Scott Street family, JAMinc founder Wally Thulin, the Robbin  Thompson Endowment for Youth in Music and the members of VPM Music.