Bill Monroe Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival
by Jeff Tryon
photo by Cindy Steele
You can count on June bringing strawberries, lightning bugs, and the annual Bill Monroe’s Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival to Brown County. Named after its legendary founder and “father of Bluegrass” Bill Monroe, the event is now in its 48th year.
Bill has gone on to a bigger stage but the festival continues to produce a magical experience that has become an inseparable part of the bluegrass tradition.
For ten days in 2014, June 12 through June 21, some of the best and biggest names in bluegrass—over 70 bands in all—will entertain from the historic main stage throughout each day.
The music on stage at Bean Blossom is the main course but bluegrass appetizers and desserts echo everywhere through the park all week long in informal pick-up jam sessions and friendly get-togethers.
The ticket price includes admission to music and instrument workshops daily, admission to the Bill Monroe Hall of Fame Museum and Uncle Pen’s cabin, the traditional bean supper on Tuesday, the Bill Monroe Sunset Jam on Friday, and the Sunday worship service.
Bluegrass fans from all over will make the pilgrimage to Bean Blossom just to see such bluegrass legends as Doyle Lawson, Larry Sparks, Jesse McReynolds, and Bobby Osborne. The list also includes festival regulars James King Band, Karl Shiflett and Big Country Show, IIIrd Tyme Out, American Drive, Lonesome River Band, Paul Williams, and Melvin Goins.
But part of the beauty of the festival is to just sit back and take the pulse of bluegrass music, listening to a wide spectrum of different bands and performers with different stories and outlooks.
To mention just a few at random, festival goers will also be interested to see acts like Adkins & Loudermilk, the Crowe Brothers, and Marty Raybon.
Raybon, the former lead singer of Shenandoah, has completed his transition to bluegrass with a pair of nominations for the International Bluegrass Music Association awards. Raybon was nominated in the Male Vocalist of the Year category and also for Gospel Recorded Event for “Beulah Land.” His latest bluegrass album is “The Back Forty.”
After seven albums and over forty years of making music together, The Crowe Brothers—Josh and Wayne—continue their tradition of providing beautifully blended harmonies at the Bill Monroe festival. Listen for their hits “The Winds Are Blowing in Maggie Valley,” “Grandma’s Little Boardside Cabin,” and “I’m Going Back to Old Virginia.”
Dave Adkins has been around bluegrass music for a little while, but has a new solo release, “Nothing To Lose” which features brilliant bluegrass. Adkins has a strong voice. “If future albums are as good as this,” wrote one reviewer, “then he will be a very successful bluegrass star.” He has teamed with Edgar Loudermilk to form a new band, Adkins & Loudermilk, which will take to the Bean Blossom main stage Thursday.
On Saturday, catch the “Stars of Tomorrow” show featuring Kyle Ramey, Col. Isaac Moore, Willow Osborne, and Jalee Roberts.
Although bluegrass may seem like music from the American South, it is actually international and often practiced in northern climes, as with the Michigan-based Detour or Canadian-born Spinney Brothers.
Detour’s tight focused harmonies and precision instrumentals combine original contemporary bluegrass sounds with great traditional favorites. Just beginning to make a name for itself on the national bluegrass scene, Detour is more contemporary bluegrass than strictly traditional, offering a mix of originals and classics with side trips down country and even retro-rock roads.
The Spinney Brothers effortlessly intertwine past and present in original material which draws on sources from the first generation bluegrass legends to the Brother’s personal lives and rural heritage. Originally from the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia, brothers Allan and Rick Spinney have an energetic and distinctive sound, a tight duet vocal style rooted in traditional, southern-flavored bluegrass music. They were first introduced to bluegrass music while working as loggers more than 20 years ago. Since then, they’ve performed at a variety of venues across North America.
Camping is available at the Festival Park with over 300 hook-up sites and over 400 primitive sites. Reservations are recommended.
Contact information for the Bill Monroe Memorial Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival is <www.beanblossom.us>, e-mail: <email@example.com>, and (800) 414-4677 or (812) 988-6422. Travel five miles north from Nashville on State Road 135 to Bean Blossom.