6th Annual Paul Williams’ Gospel Jubilee in
Bean Blossom

August 12-14, 2004

by Greg Adams

Music lovers from Brown County and beyond are invited to “take a trip on the great gospel ship,” as the old song says, with the 6th Annual Paul Williams’ Bean Blossom Gospel Jubilee, from August 12–14, 2004 at the Bill Monroe Memorial Music Park and Campground.

Dedicated to the late Bill Monroe, the Gospel Jubilee is a unique celebration of bluegrass gospel and southern gospel music that features many performers not seen at the park’s other festivals and events. Each day of the Jubilee offers a full program of music and other attractions, so ticket holders are encouraged to come early and stay late.

One of the most exciting names on the bill this year is the Chuck Wagon Gang, the longest-running country gospel group of all time. Founded in 1936, the group has remained active almost continuously since that time, recording for Columbia Records for 40 years and reportedly selling 37 million records.

Still going strong today, the Chuck Wagon Gang is widely recognized as a gospel institution. The group has played such prestigious venues as Carnegie Hall and the Grand Ole Opry, and has two 2004 releases on Music Mill Records: I’ll Fly Away and Looking for a City. The Gang’s lineup has changed over the decades, but most of the members hail from the same Carter family (no relation to country music’s other famous Carter Family). The Chuck Wagon Gang will perform on the evening of Saturday, August 13th.

Paul Williams and the Victory Trio are the nominal heads of the festival and perform all three nights, headlining on Thursday and Friday. This Grammy-nominated group records for Rebel Records and is touring in support of a new CD, I’ll Be No Stranger There. Williams and Co. also filmed a performance in January for a DVD release this summer, but there is no word yet on whether it will be available in time for the festival.

Other artists on the roster include Eddie and Martha Adcock, prolific recording artists Jeff and Sheri Easter, the True Gospel Echoes from eastern Kentucky, Virginia Cross Ties, NewFound Road, and many more. The program provides concertgoers with a cross-section of today’s bluegrass gospel scene with its assortment of young groups and old favorites.

In a bit of breaking news, the Carolina Boys’ scheduled performance may actually turn into an appearance of the Kingsmen Quartet, since Ray Reese, the Kingsmen’s longtime lead singer, has come out of retirement to rejoin the group. The Carolina Boys’ website says that they have returned to using the well-known Kingsmen Quartet name effective immediately, even though the group is now technically a sextet with the addition of Reese.

The Gospel Jubilee’s promotional material promises “preachin’, prayin’ and singin’ every day,” with worship services held daily and a full menu of the finest bluegrass and southern gospel music around. It is sure to be an inspirational weekend as these artists make a joyful noise and share their songs of love and praise.

Similar to Bean Blossom’s bluegrass festivals, there will be a variety of vendors on hand selling food and merchandise. The park offers camping and shuttle service, a fitness trail and a fully stocked lake for fishing, as well as traditional bluegrass attractions such as the original cabin of Bill Monroe’s Uncle Pen and the Bluegrass Museum and Hall of Fame. Festival attendees are encouraged to bring lawn chairs for the outdoor amphitheater, and foul weather gear when indicated since the show will proceed come rain or shine.

Ticket prices are $15 each for Thursday and Saturday, and $20 for Friday. A three-day combo pass is available for $45. Children 12 and under are admitted free with an adult. Visit <www.beanblossom.com> for a full performance schedule, driving directions, park rules and other information. You can also request info and purchase tickets by calling 800-414-4677 or 812-988-6422.