Jerusalem Ridge Bluegrass Celebration -- this week!
Hey folks, I'm headed down to Rosine Kentucky early on Thursday morning for the Jerusalem Ridge Bluegrass Celebration -- it's a dandy! Talk about bringing back some memories....I remember walking through Monroe's old home place years ago before Doc Mercer and crew came along and made it all pretty. Over the years the ravages of time and zealous fans had carried away most of the bits that must have once made it quite a pretty house out in the hills. It was wide open to the elements and I remember all the bullet holes up over the fireplace. You can see a bit of what it looked like in the video "High Lonesome" when the crew return with Monroe to the homeplace up there above the house Charlie Monroe used to live in and he's standing there by the fireplace reminiscing.
Anyway, I've been to Jerusalem Ridge two or three times since the house has been restored; maybe it's nicer now than it ever was, but outside it's lovely and inside you'll find some Monroebilia and well, just a great vibe. I remember a few years back when they had the ribbon-cutting and dedication of that beautiful house and several thousand folks came for the great and tearful event....lots of fine entertainment and happy reunions there! That was the beginning of this great festival.
That first year the stage was out in the middle of a field, matter of fact the other night when I was talking with Ralph Stanley we talked about that first Jerusalem Ridge gathering and how rough the stage area was then. I don't think it bothered anyone too much but Ralph was remembering all the weeds and rough ground there. Not so now, folks! Campbell and his crew made a wonderful, rustic stage down in a grove of trees (kind of reminds me of Ralph's old stage down in the holler up on Smith Ridge - Ralph nodded his agreement when I mentioned that to him) behind the home place so there isn't a bad seat in the house -- the stage is at the bottom of a hillside with plenty of shade and well, it's just a really special place to be.
Last time I was there - two years ago - there was a good bit of jamming in the field, a great crowd and a wonderful lineup. For you traditional bluegrass fans this is the place to be! For example, Ralph Stanley hardly ever plays anywhere for two days, but he'll be singing at Jerusalem Ridge both this Thursday and Friday. Now if that's not enough to persuade you to make the drive to Ohio County, how about getting to hear Melvin Goins and Windy Mountain for two days? I'd make the drive just to listen to Jon Rigsby play that 5-string ram's head fiddle of his. Add to that the wonderful Monroe-influenced music of David Davis and the Warrior River Boys; the bluesy lonesome sound of Larry Sparks (and those great "moves" he does with his shoulder and the way his hair matches his pickguard); the Uncle Dave Macon-styled music of Philip Steinmetz (how DOES he stand those wool clothes in the heat???); former Clinch Mountain Boy Sammy Adkins, the great Travis-style picking wizard, Eddie Pennington; the Cumberland Highlanders; Tommy Brown; Uncle Doc Wilhite; the Sullivan Family and many, many more; about 40 bands will play over the 4 days of the festival.
I'm looking forward to revisiting a favorite place of mine on Thursday and getting a chance to pick some old time music with Rigsby, Rebekah Weiler and some other friends. Proceeds from this festival go toward the restoration and maintenance of the Old Home Place. It's a beautiful place for a festival and though it's fairly primitive camping, the important things are there: plenty of fresh air, good bluegrass folks, great traditional music -- and the spirit of Bill Monroe.
Hope to see some of you there!
For more information and a lineup go to: www.jerusalemridgefestival.org\