Bluegrass & Gospel Bash
to feature 21 bands at Carrollton
Helen E. McKinney
CARROLLTON, Ky. (October 2002) Richard Popp has
a dream for Carroll Countys youth: to promote bluegrass music
and expose young people to it by establishing a youth center.
To make the dream a reality, the eight-member Carroll County Bluegrass
Association was created on May 22. Popp, the groups president,
wants to keep bluegrass music alive.
He feels confident that he can do this by developing a
music and arts center to teach kids not only the fundamentals of bluegrass
music, but also expose kids to a variety of music and artistic expression.
The association is moving forward by organizing what they hope will
become an annual event. Back to the Past for the Future
has been billed as a bluegrass and gospel bash to be held on Oct. 12-13
at the Carroll County Fairgrounds.
Popp was able to schedule a formidable lineup due to his contacts in
the bluegrass business. He is a former tour bus driver and has spent
endless hours of making calls to organize this event.
Some of the nationally known bands scheduled to appear are J. D. Crowe
and the New South, James Monroe and the Midnight Ramblers, and Dale
Ann Bradley and Coon Creek, the Collins Brothers, and the Osborne Brothers.
Approximately 30 bands will be performing featuring many local and regional
Kentucky Blue is a Shelby County, Ky.-based band performing at noon
Saturday. In the 20 years the band has been together, banjo player Dave
Cottrell said that the fast, upbeat quality of bluegrass music has always
appealed to him.
Its happy music, he said, another reason audiences
seem so drawn to it.
He said most popular music is currently computer music. Theres
no soul to it. There are no flaws. Its perfect. Music is not supposed
to be perfect. In blues and bluegrass, all of the little imperfections
are in the music, just like imperfections in people.
Chuck Webster, vice president of the association, said this event will
be good for the community and bring a lot of people into the community.
Webster said he expects many festival-goers to camp out on Friday night,
before the event.
For this event to be a success, the association depends heavily on exposure,
and Webster thinks the timing is perfect.
Popp and Webster both attribute the success of the movie, O Brother,
Where Art Thou, as instrumental in opening the doors to bluegrass
music. We want to catch people while theyre being exposed
to it, said Webster. The movie has provided a window of
opportunity, he said.
To get the word out, the association has concentrated on a variety of
different venues, such as out-of-community advertising, radio station
commercials and morning TV show appearances.
Weve got a good lineup and weve promoted it hard,
said Webster. Weve had a person at 12-15 different festivals
in southern Indiana and Kentucky promoting it.
Monroe, son of
legendary Bill Monroe
Going back to our musical roots with bluegrass music
to benefit Carroll County youth for the future. Its a great concept,
said Carrollton/Carroll County tourism director Robin Caldwell.
The Carrollton/Carroll County Recreation and Tourism Board granted $8,500
to this project, said Webster. Other monetary sponsors include North
American Stainless, Gallatin Steel, Wal-Mart, and Papa Johns.
This weekend event is packed with a variety of entertainment, including
traditional bluegrass, gospel music and even bluegrass comedy provided
by the Moran Brothers. After expenses are paid, all proceeds will go
toward funding the youth center.
While no definite cite has been selected, plans are progressing for
the center to include indoor intramural sports facilities. Popp said
that when it comes time to decide on a name for the center, it might
possibly be named after Michael Cleveland, a blind fiddle player for
Dale Ann Bradley and Coon Creek.
Caldwell said Popps ideas to build a place where children
could learn how to play instruments and appreciate different types of
music was terrific. He has local musicians who have offered to give
lessons and has located a national foundation that would provide instruments
to kids who cannot afford them.
Webster said not enough kids get exposed to bluegrass music. An opportunity
to study this musical form would encourage youth to examine and identify
with their heritage.
To find a future in bluegrass music, the stereotypes surrounding it
must be overcome. Cottrell said that movies made popular in the U.S.
have stereotyped bluegrass as hillbilly music. His band toured Japan
in 1993 and Bitburg, Germany, earlier this year. These countries are
not aware of the stereotypes surrounding bluegrass music, said Cottrell,
and therefore audiences really appreciate and enjoy it.
When taken back to its basic form, children can learn a lot about their
heritage. Caldwell said such a center could be instrumental in developing
talent, positive self-esteem, confidence and drive in young people.
Part of Popps mission is to involve the Carroll County school
system by attending area middle and high schools to show students how
to craft instruments out of cardboard and wood.
To spark student interest, the association is sponsoring a contest for
the best instruments made. All winners receive free tickets for their
parents to attend the festival. Several instruments, bearing the artists
signature, will be raffled during the festival. Between 3,000 and 5,000
people are expected to attend.
* For more information, visit: www.carrollcountyky.com/bluegrass/.
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