Academic journal article Journal of American Folklore

Bean Blossom: The Brown County Jamboree and Bill Monroe's Bluegrass Festivals

Academic journal article Journal of American Folklore

Bean Blossom: The Brown County Jamboree and Bill Monroe's Bluegrass Festivals

Article excerpt

Bean Blossom: The Brown County Jamboree and Bill Monroe's Bluegrass Festivals. by Thomas A. Adler. (urbana: university of illinois Press, 2011. Pp. 228 + illustrations: 29 black- and-white photographs, 5 line drawings, 6 maps.)

Thomas Adler's book Bean Blossom: The Brown County Jamboree and Bill Monroe's Bluegrass Festivals ably documents the development of a country music park that pushed the bluegrass festival movement forward. bean blossom and similar parks are important settings for country music, but represent a type of setting that is scarcely mentioned in a world where conversa- tion about music focuses on such items as in- ternet downloads and radio play. however, for decades, places like bean blossom have been locations where people not only perform and listen to the music, but experience the cultures connected to the music styles. in addition to performances by name acts, country music parks are where young acts gain their first stage time, where players play for fun in the camp- ground, where families go to experience live music, and where members of country music communities gather to socialize in country mu- sic environments. This skillfully written book is a product of deep and careful research.

Adler includes in the introduction a history of the country music park, a type of outdoor space where country music is the featured at- traction. The idea of the country music park is descended from the chautauqua movement of the late nineteenth century, and persists to this day. The history of the park movement serves as a solid foundation for the story of the music park for the brown county Jamboree, located at bean blossom, indiana. Adler is especially interested in the park at bean blossom because it was the site of important bluegrass festivals hosted by the founder of bluegrass music, bill monroe. monroe is credited with major musi- cal innovations that differentiated his string band, bill monroe & his blue Grass boys from others of his era. however, while the music his- tory and legacy of both brown county and bill monroe are running themes in the book, the book covers more than musical connections. located on rocky soil that was not good for farming, many city people have viewed brown county as the kind of rustic place good for va- cationing, and it has boasted artists' and craft- ers' shops for over a hundred years. in addition, one hundred years ago, brown county was home to many types of performing bands, and old-time fiddlers performed for the square dances that provided an important setting for socializing. These factors combined to make the spot of the brown county Jamboree a good one for music shows, appealing to local people and visitors from larger indiana cities and chicago. So, when bill monroe bought the park, he was building on an already-existing entity. Adler tells us that monroe was encouraged to buy the brown county Jamboree because the blue Grass boys had always done well in the terri- tory, and because the park could be used for one of monroe's pastimes, fox hunting. When monroe purchased the park, it was hoped that he would make the park a greater enterprise. over time, that is exactly what happened. The book shows how the park developed in concert with changes in music style, the music business, and other factors.

tom Adler's book about bean blossom tells of some of the important musical occasions in the history of the park. Adler weaves in such important bluegrass history items as the per- formances by the bluegrass Alliance at the June 1971 bean blossom festival. …

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