Blue Grass Music Festivals
Al Batton and Bluegrass Reunion at Preddy Fest
Bluegrass festivals have become popular events throughout the United States, just pick a state and you are sure to find a festival scheduled sometime, somewhere. Bluegrass groupies travel in motor homes from festival to festival, sometimes arriving days ahead of the show to camp and play their own picking parties around the evening campfires. Vendors sell food, arts and crafts and CDs of bluegrass music. Golf carts are the main mode of transportation once on site, as fans moved back and forth from the stage area to their campsites.
Bass Mountain Music Park
Origin and History of Bluegrass Music
Having attended my first bluegrass music festival recently led me to wonder about the origin and history of this style of foot-stomping music. I remember Daddy playing some of the same songs on his guitar that the musicians played at Preddyfest Memorial Day Weekend. Preddyfest an annual bluegrass to-do in Franklin County, North Carolina.
I assumed that Bluegrass had something to do with Kentucky, and it does. But a little research also attributes bluegrass’ roots to the Scotch-Irish folk music prevalent in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Bluegrass also traces back to music brought to the south by African slaves, who introduced the banjo to Colonial America.
Pioneer women can be credited as keepers of Anglo-Saxton ballad lyrics, many of which show up in bluegrass songs. It seems in the days of early pioneer life women were not allowed to play “daddy’s” violin or other musical instruments, so they sang the songs.
But, what exactly is Bluegrass Music? Well, the granddaddy of Bluegrass is Bill Monroe. He and his brother, Charlie, were a famous country music duo in the 1930s. The brothers had a falling out – both were said to be hotheaded – and Brother Bill (did he had a still on the hill?) formed a new band and taught the musicians his brother’s style of playing. Bill then continued to perform in much the same way as before the breakup.
Bill Monroe, who had lived in North Carolina for most of his career, named his new band in homage to his home state of Kentucky, Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys. They first performed together on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry in 1939.
Over time some changes were made in the band, both in musicians and the music. Monroe mixed his music up with the old mountain music, blues, work chants, and gospel. It was an all strings band made up of mandolin, fiddle, banjo, guitar, and bass. It all came together on the Grand Ole Orpy stage with their performance in 1945. Earl Scruggs playing banjo, Lester Flatt singing and playing guitar, and Chubby Wise playing fiddle, were members of the band who later went on to make names for themselves in bluegrass music.
Bill Monroe described Bluegrass Music as having “a hard drive to it.” He said, “It's Scotch bagpipes and ole-time fiddlin'. It's Methodist and Holiness and Baptist. It's blues and jazz, and it has a high lonesome sound.”
Picking in the Campground at Preddy Fest
Bass Mountain Bluegrass Museum
Some of North Carolina's Blue Grass Festivals
Bass Mountain Bluegrass Park’s museum has a collection of Bill Monroe memorabilia housed in a one-room log cabin along with other vintage Bluegrass items. The Bass Mountain Bluegrass Festival boasts to be North Carolina’s longest running Bluegrass Festival. Although it was announced they had discontinued the 30-year-old event for 2009, the festival did take place at the same location, Cane Creek Campground in snow Camp, NC, over Memorial weekend under a new name, Lil John’s Mountain Music Festival.
Preddy Fest host, Rodney Preddy, announced that the 2010 festival will once again be on Memorial Weekend, marking their 12th year.
To find a Bluegrass Festival near you go to Bluegrass Festival Guide and click on your state. In these days of economic stress you can’t find a cheaper vacation – less that $100 for two or three days entertainment (Preddy Fest was only $50 for advance 3-day tickets), and at some festivals the camping is even free with the weekend ticket.
Denton Farm Park is another North Carolina festival worth visiting. Denton Farm Park is like a trip back in time. Vintage buildings, a real steam locomotive, and a covered pavilion for a rain or shine show are some of the park's highlights.
Dineane's Preddy Fest Hubs
- Rodney Preddy Hosts 12th Annual Preddyfest
Rodney Preddy hosts his Preddyfest in Franklinton, NC, and I don't just mean that his name is on the website or just that he owns the nearly 100 acre property on the Tar River where camping is free with the...
- Packing for Preddyfest Bluegrass Festival
Great minds think alike, and my dad and I were thinking about the same thing at Christmas: Preddyfest! We gave each other Preddyfest survival kits. Camping at Preddyfest, free with a 3-day festival ticket, is...