Bean Blossom by Tom Adler

“Bean Blossom, Indiana — near Brown County State Park and the artist-colony town of Nashville, Indianais home to the annual Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival, founded in 1967 by Bill Monroe, the father of bluegrass. 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.”

So says the University of Illinois Press, which has announced the 2011 publication of Bean Blossom: The Brown County Jamboree and Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Festivals, Thomas A. Adler’s history of Bean Blossom.

The book traces the long and colorful life of the world famous bluegrass and country music venue that has called attendants from across the globe. Millions of notes have been played there – both formally and informally, with jamming till dawn – and two albums have been recorded there.

However, there is a lot more to the story than that. With 24 black and white photographs, 8 line drawings and 3 maps, the 264 page book 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

As Adler said in a 2006 interview ….

“…the real importance of Bean Blossom’s location is that it is right on the fuzzy dividing line between the cultural-regional areas we simply call ‘the North’ and ‘the South.’ Bluegrass got a particular boost at Bean Blossom because, while the hamlet was an isolated place prior to World War II, it was later a location that had become easily accessible from either the cultural North (Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis, Cleveland, Pittsburgh) or South (Louisville and Nashville, Tennessee, etc.). Lots of early newspaper accounts and good articles about the festivals in the early 1970s noted how culturally diverse the festival audiences were. The oft-heard phrase in those days was that Bean Blossom was a place where (always to observers’ great surprise) ‘hippies and rednecks’ could find some common ground in their love of the music.”

For more information and to pre-order a copy of this book visit the University of Illinois Press web site.

Bean Blossom – The Brown County Jamboree and Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Festivals
Author: Thomas A. Adler, Publisher: University of Illinois Press
Cloth ISBN 978-0-252-03615-6?Paper ISBN 978-0-252-07810-1

Thomas A. Adler is a folklorist, banjo player, 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.

Share this:

About the Author

Richard Thompson

Richard F. Thompson is a long-standing free-lance writer specialising in bluegrass music topics. A two-time Editor of British Bluegrass News, he has been seriously interested in bluegrass music since about 1970. As well as contributing to that magazine, he has, in the past 30 plus years, had articles published by Country Music World, International Country Music News, Country Music People, Bluegrass Unlimited, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass music journal) and Bluegrass Europe. He wrote the annotated series I'm On My Way Back To Old Kentucky, a daily memorial to Bill Monroe that culminated with an acknowledgement of what would have been his 100th birthday, on September 13, 2011.