On Sunday, November 20, 2011, Rural Rhythm Records and some of its brightest stars gathered to celebrate the release of Bill Monroe 100th Year Celebration Live At Bean Blossom, a live recording of 12 selections from Rural Rhythm’s family of artists, recorded live at the 45th annual Bill Monroe Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival. The CD release event was held at the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame in Renfro Valley Kentucky, a great facility and a wonderful tribute to Kentucky’s rich musical heritage.
A capacity crowd was welcomed by Rural Rhythm President Sam Passamano II and treated to live performances from Brand New Strings, The Bill Monroe Tribute All-Star Band (Steve Gulley, Audie Blaylock, Dale Ann Bradley, and Sammy Shelor, backed by members of Brand New Strings), and Wasson (Ricky) & McCall (Dwight) joined by J. D. Crowe and the rest of the New South. Another Rural Rhythm artist who was not part of the recording project, Carrie Hassler, stopped in and joined the All-Star band for her rendition of Blue Moon of Kentucky.
About a hundred attendees squeezed into the lobby of the Hall of Fame to enjoy great music and occasional stories and remembrances. In one instance, an audience member who was a close friend of Monroe emotionally told of his many travels with the legend, how Monroe always looked for a truck stop when he was hungry, and if one wasn’t available, his second choice was Shoney’s. At his funeral, a roll of quarters was placed in Mr. Monroe’s casket because after finishing his meal, he would walk around the truck stop introducing himself to those present, handing out quarters to the children.
After the music ended, those in attendance had ample time for photo and autograph opportunities, swapping stories, and sharing a bite to eat before going on their way. There were a number of musicians in attendance who didn’t take the stage—Ronnie Reno, Curt Chapman (former bassist with the New South, now with Wildfire), Charlie Hall (DJ and banjo player), Dale Pyatt (singer-songwriter), not to mention my wife and musical partner, Valerie Gabehart (who took these accompanying photos).
As the crowd thinned down, I spoke to Mr. Passamano about the project, and he passionately expressed his belief that “projects like this are important because we have a responsibility to lift up our icons and preserve our traditions for future generations.” He and the Hall of Fame staff were very pleased with the turnout and how smoothly the event came off.
Mr. Passamano expressed his appreciation of everyone involved in the project and all of the artists who gave of themselves to take part in the release party—a first class event in every aspect.
More details about the recording will be included in an upcoming review of the project.