University of Illinois Press – Music in American Life Series.
Writer Thomas A. Adler’s gives us a long look back at the home of legendary bluegrass festivals and jamborees. Bean Blossom, Indiana – near Brown County State Park and the artist-colony town of Nashville – Indiana is home to the annual Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival, founded in 1967 by Bill Monroe, the father of bluegrass.
Bean Blossom is widely recognized as the oldest continuously running bluegrass music festival in the world, this June festival’s roots run back to late 1951, when Monroe purchased the Brown County Jamboree, a live weekly country music show presented between April and November each year. Over the years, Monroe’s festival featured the top performers in bluegrass music, including Jimmy Martin, Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs, the Goins Brothers, the Stanley Brothers, and many more.
Thomas A. Adler’s history of Bean Blossom traces the long and colorful life of the Brown County Jamboree and Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Festival. Adler discusses the development of bluegrass music, the many personalities involved in the bluegrass music scene, the interplay of local, regional, and national interests, and the meaning of this venue to the music’s many performers–both professional and amateur–and its legions of fans.
Bean Blossom seems to be the ideal subject for an extended historical study such as this. Loaded with facts and details, the unfolding story is so interesting and engrossing. I read it with delighted recognition and remembrance – John Wright, author of Traveling the High Way Home: Ralph Stanley and the World of Traditional Bluegrass Music
Thomas A. Adler is a folklorist, banjoist, radio show host, and the former executive director of the International Bluegrass Music Museum. He lives in Lexington, Kentucky, and first attended Bean Blossom in 1968.