Like many other music venues across the country, the COVID-19 pandemic left Meadowgreen Appalachian Music Park in limbo. The park, which generally runs a concert series throughout the winter in its barn-like music hall near Clay City, KY, had to cancel the end of its 2020 season last spring, and was severely limited in what it could offer throughout last fall and winter. However, under the direction of Rickey Wasson, the park has undergone a makeover with numerous upgrades in an attempt to keep the long tradition of live bluegrass music at the park alive.
Thanks to the addition of an outdoor stage (complete with excellent sound system), covered pavilion, and full-service campsites, Meadowgreen Music Park is hosting a spring outdoor concert series throughout the month of May, with music starting each Saturday during the month at 4:00 p.m. Local brother trio The Spencer Boys open the show each evening, followed by a regional or up-and-coming group, and concluding with two full sets from a headlining band. The past two weekends have featured Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver and the Rickey Wasson Band, with the Lonesome River Band, Larry Sparks, and Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out on the schedule for the remaining Saturdays in May.
I was able to attend the show this past Saturday, and after having not seen any live, in-person bluegrass for over a year, was overwhelmingly excited to set up a folding chair in a field and listen to Wasson, Don Rigsby, Ron Stewart, Michael Cleveland, and Matt Wallace put on what was honestly one of the best shows I’ve seen in years. Not only was the music great, but the musicians just seemed to be having such a great time finally getting to play together. Much of the show consisted of requests eagerly tossed out by the crowd, and if the weather hadn’t turned cold once the sun started to go down, the guys would have likely played all night. In fact, the second set lasted far beyond the planned 45 minutes, with just their portion of the show clocking in at over two hours.
The material they performed was taken heavily from the Flatt & Scruggs and Jimmy Martin repertoire, much to the pleasure of the audience in the field. Those who had studied the original recordings of these classic songs noticed that often the fiddle or banjo kickoffs would mirror what had been played in the ’50s or ’60s on those pioneering records, the golden era of bluegrass to many in attendance.
For those who enjoy the bluegrass festival camping atmosphere, Wasson is in the process of making a fine campground, with a number of full-hookup (electric, water, and sewer) sites already prepared, and more to be added. He hopes to add a bathhouse soon, though restrooms are available in the music hall for tent campers. Many campers stayed the whole weekend this past week, with a soup bean dinner and jamming offered on Friday night. The park also offers a concession stand during the concerts, with a large selection of hearty home-cooked items.
Though the current concert series is just scheduled through the end of May, Wasson hopes to continue offering as many outdoor concerts as possible. I’m certainly planning on catching several more of the May concerts, and would love to see them continue throughout the summer.
For more information on Meadowgreen Appalachian Music Park, visit them online or on Facebook. Those interested in camping should call 606-945-5999 to reserve campsites in advance.