Charm City Bluegrass documentary now available

The documentary film project chronicling the first five years of the Charm City Bluegrass Festival which we reported on in December has been completed. It is now available for online viewing, coming in at 27 minutes in length.

Charm City Bluegrass: A Renewed Baltimore Tradition was produced by Caplan Green Productions, and tells how the event picks up an old tradition of bluegrass in Baltimore by a new generation of fans. The festival’s organizers are two such, Jordan August and Phil Chorney, who started things off in 2013 as a one day event, largely to give their friends in the city a chance to see some of their favorite performers.

Like many young followers of the music, their tastes run towards the more experimental side of bluegrass, and that first year featured music from Tim O’Brien and Tony Trischka. The following year, they moved from Union Craft Brewing to Druid Hill Park, an urban park within the city, where it remains to this day, now expanded into a two day music fest. Union Craft Brewing returns this year to provide Baltimore beer to the attendees.

A big focus of the festival is maintaining a presence for bluegrass in Baltimore, which had once been a prime spot for artists to work, though often in rough clubs on the city’s seedier side. Walter Hensley performed there in the 1950s, as did later artists like Earl Taylor and Del McCoury. Charm City Bluegrass sees the more progressive music they highlight at the festival as being a natural progression from the hard-edged grass played there from the ’40s through the ’60s.

You can enjoy the full documentary below.

Charm City Bluegrass: A Renewed Baltimore Tradition was shot and edited by Austin Green and Arlen Caplan, and written and directed by Marc Shapiro. It contains extensive interviews with the founders, and local Baltimore grassers, along with a number of live performances.

It looks like the festival organizers like what they’ve seen, as they have issued a request for videographers willing to help them capture footage again this year, April 27-28. Anyone interested is invited to contact them on Facebook.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.