Remembering one of Anson’s ‘knights’

Liz O’Connell Staff Writer

				                                The bluegrass band, Knights at the Museum, plays at Twin Valley, Oliver’s and other events. The band plays both covers and original songs.

The bluegrass band, Knights at the Museum, plays at Twin Valley, Oliver’s and other events. The band plays both covers and original songs.

WADESBORO — Beloved community member Joe Dutton loved playing music more than anything, right behind his love for his family and the Lord.

About five years ago Dutton ran into Stan Harward. The two of them have known each other just about all of Harward’s life. They started talking and decided to get together one day to jam out.

One thing led to another from their music session and naturally a band was formed with three other members from Anson County, who Dutton and Harward have known for years.

And so, the Knights at the Museum was created. Band members included Dutton and Harward on guitar, Tim Knopp on mandolin, Scott Drye on banjo and Jimmie Rushing on bass. All five members took turns on vocals as there was no one specific lead vocalist.

Dutton primarily played guitar, but according to Harward, he could play just about any instrument. Dutton had played music since his time at Bowman High School. He was a member of the marching band and jazz ensemble.

“We got together and jammed a few times at my house,” Harward said. “Joe spoke with the owners of Oliver’s uptown, the restaurant, and asked what they thought of us if we played on the sidewalk on Thursday nights and they were all for it.”

The name was created one night while playing at Oliver’s, right next to the Ashe Covington Medical Museum.

“Someone asked what the name of the band was,” Harward recalled. “Joe looked up at the sign on the museum and replied, ‘Knights at the Museum I guess,’ and it stuck.”

It is also a spoof of the movie “Night at the Museum,” according to Harward.

The band performed covers, but they also sprinkled in original songs as well. Knights at the Museum is a mostly bluegrass band, but each member brings in talent and flavor from different genres including rock and roll and country.

Knopp, the mandolin player, is from West Virginia and brings a different dimension of sound to the band. The bass player, Rushing, is a retired Charlotte Fire Department Captain. Drye on banjo grew up in Wadesboro and runs The Hub restaurant. He has a strong background in rock and roll.

“The group is just a melting pot of musical influences,” Harward said.

Since those Thursday concerts at Oliver’s, the band played at a few special events and then moved to Twin Valley until COVID-19 shut it down almost a year ago.

The Knights at the Museum only played a few times during 2020. Harward is unsure when the band will play again after losing Dutton to COVID-19 and the pandemic still surrounding the county.

“Probably at some point we will (play), I hope so,” Harward said. “…to honor Joe. There was nothing, other than his family and the Lord, there was nothing he loved more than playing music. That is all there is to it.”

Dutton was an active member of the Anson community. He served on the Anson County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors since 2012 and he often led the children’s sermon service at Peachland United Methodist Church.

He had a strong love for the county. He famously said, “There is always something good happening in Anson County.”

“He was just a good hearted and down to earth,” Harward said. “He loved everybody.”

His death from COVID-19 was a shock to the community as he was a prominent name.

Dutton worked as the Anson County Tax Collector. He knew everybody and everybody knew him, according to Harward.

Community members took to Facebook to share their condolences and reflect on Dutton’s spirit.

“Joe had plenty talent and energy that he used unselfishly in the service of our community,” one said. Others remember him for his friendliness and big smile. He was a “true Ansonian.”

Dutton’s favorite song to perform with the band was “Ugly Girl” because it was catchy and fun tune. Any time the band played, at some point someone would yell, “Joe play Ugly Girl!”

Harward’s favorite song from the band is actually a Dutton original – Somebody Sing Amazing Grace For Me. He attempted to sing it during Dutton’s funeral on Jan. 2.

Harward is hoping to see residents taking better precautions to stop the spread of the virus. With a name as known as Dutton’s, Harward believes this will be a wake up call.

Reach Liz O’Connell at 704-994-5471 or at