In the late 1970s, John Maness and I became neighbors. A friendship ensued that found our families going on vacations and weekend camping trips together. We both enjoyed bluegrass and began jamming with local musicians, and eventually we formed the “Bass Mountain Boys.” John had just purchased a farm in Snow Camp, NC, and we began having thoughts of having our own festival there. Along with one of John’s brothers and two other friends, we built a stage and other facilities for our own festival. In 1978 our dream became a reality with our first festival at Bass Mountain Music Park.
Over the years the other original organizers dissolved their partnership for various reasons, leaving John and me operating the Bass Mountain Bluegrass Festival twice a year until his death in 2002. After John’s death, Sheila (John’s wife) and I leased the property from John’s son, who had inherited the farm. She and I continued to promote two festivals annually thru 2008.
At the end of 2008 Sheila and I were unable to reach a lease agreement with John’s son on the Snow Camp property. After much soul searching, we decided to retire the “Bass Mountain Bluegrass Festival” in 2009.
In early 2000, Clyde “Peaches” Solomon had started building a park on his property, Willow Oak Farm in Roxboro, NC. We shared a common goal of promoting a family style bluegrass festival; and, from that, a new friendship developed. Many ideas were shared as he built a park patterned very much like the Bass Mountain Music Park. Willow Oak Music Park opened just prior to John’s death.
In 2009 my wife, Debbie, and I acquired the Willow Oak Park farm with intentions of continuing to promote bluegrass festivals like John Maness and I had done for the last 31 years. Debbie and I are very excited to have the opportunity to again bring to this area some of the best talent that bluegrass has to offer.