It’s a unique, American art form that developed back in the 1940’s and 1950’s, but thanks to the Newark-Granville Symphony and Dawes Aboretum, local residents are getting a taste of Bluegrass music.
It only takes five basic instruments to bring Bluegrass music to life…the fiddle, mandolin, guitar, bass, and banjo. You combine those with some singing, and you’re ready to hit the stage.
"Bluegrass is really about energy, excitement, and based a little on improvisation. So it’s kind of hillbilly-jazz I would say, " says musician Andy Carlson.
"It’s kind of one of those down home-you can sit, clap your hands, and sing along-(music), " says Dawes Aboretum Public Relations and Marketing Director, Laura Appleman.
Bluegrass music may have been a well-kept secret in tiny towns and communities across the country, but the unique sound is now attracting the masses.
"Bluegrass right now is enjoying I think it’s highest point of popularity with artists like Alison Krauss, who just won a Grammy singing with Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin. So, when you have Bluegrass artists achieving at those highest levels, I think it speaks to the popularity of the music and where it’s at right now, " says Carlson.
The Bluegrass, Barbecue, and Boom event wanted to showcase this music. So, it started the event four years ago, and it attracts 3,000 to 4,000 people each year.
"The public loves it. They love to come out. They pack their picnics, put out a big blanket, and kids play ball. It’s just a really nice family atmosphere, " says Appleman.
Dawes Aboretum has a natural setting for this amphitheater, which only adds to the experience of this Bluegrass concert.
"It adds to the sound. You can hear it whether you’re at the top of the hill or down by the stage. You can hear just like if you were in Greece at the Parthenon. You can hear anywhere around here just as you would up at the front, " says Appleman.
It also allows the artists to clearly see the size of their audience and how they’re reacting to the music. Carlson says it makes for a better performance because it’s so easy to feed off people’s energy.
Proceeds from the Bluegrass, Barbecue, and Boom event benefit Dawes Aboretum and help the staff maintain the 1,800 acres of land for people to come back and continually enjoy.