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“Where Were You?” – The Bluegrass Festival of the United States at The Belvedere, in Louisville, Kentucky [June 5th, 1977]

Finally getting back to work on images that have been awaiting attention for a number of years, and as a way of resuming my posts, here is a quick one of photographs I took, just a few months after purchasing my first camera gear – the workhorse Canon AE-1, and Komuranon Telephoto lens, that I would use for roughly the next two decades, before it was stolen during a break-in at the place I lived in, at the time.

This was my second use of the camera, as far as shooting an outdoor event in town. The first time was about a month earlier, when I attended my first – and onlyKentucky Derby. That was a bit of a letdown experience, as the time spent on the central area of the racetrack, I felt, seemed to be one big drunken party surrounding a few-minute race. There were plenty of opportunities for people-watching, but it simply dragged on-and-on too much for my sensibilities, in the end. The Bluegrass festival, however, was much more satisfying, as you could also enjoy the pleasure of people-watching, but live music would be the central attraction, and that went on for much of the day and evenings, for three days. I would only be able to attend the Sunday slate, since I was working 6 days a week, at that point in my life.

The first year I would attend this free event, was two years before (and before I had a camera to work with). On that occasion, I was most keen to see Vassar Clements perform, since he had appeared on several albums that were in my collection, at the time, and it was a good opportunity to see him in his element; jamming with other artists who were also beginning to stretch the boundaries of the Bluegrass genre, at the time. [See the libretto/flyer for the ’75 festival line-ups, below]:

This event would mean moving about, between sets, and taking in the surroundings. And while I never considered myself a “candids photographer”, it was hard to resist taking a few snapshots of people strolling about, or enjoying themselves dancing along to the music, as seen in the following images, which included one instance of running into four of my ex-high school classmates, during one intermission:

Finding a good position to take photographs of the performances, would prove to be challenging, due to the fact that many of the longtime fans of this particular strain of music, would grab spaces near the main stage, and set up with folding picnic chairs, or toss some blankets on the concrete, so this meant that there was a natural barrier, closer to the stage, between the dancers and the stationary audience members. That meant that my telephoto lens came in very handy on this occasion. The results are mixed, IMHO.

Images of The Green Grass Cloggers, dancing during their allotted time slot:

I only shot one roll of film on this date, so limited myself to a maximum, 2 shots per band, for the most part. At the time, the biggest “name” on the bill for the ’77 festival, on the day I attended, was J.D. Crowe, and his outfit, New South, of which only one frame turned out well enough to present here. The bassist on this occasion was impossible to get into the frame (and a shaky grip on the camera meant it was not as sharply focused as I would have liked). I am not 100% certain, but I believe the line-up consisted of Jimmy Gaudreau on mandolin, Glenn Lawton on guitar, and of course, J.D. Crowe with his banjo:

Next up, the Katy Laur Band, featuring Buddy Griffen on fiddle, Rich Flaig on upright bass, Jeff Terflinger on mandolin & Jeff Roberts on banjo:

Boone Creek, would feature two future talents that would wind up recording for decades afterward – Ricky Skaggs (here on mandolin), and Jerry Douglas on dobro. Other members featured Terry Baucom on banjo, Steve Bryant on electric bass, and Wes Golding on guitar:

The Highwoods Stringband featured Bob Potts & Walt Koken on fiddles, Jenny Cleland on upright bass, Doug Dorschug on guitar, and Mac Benford on banjo:

The Hutchison Brothers are the last group I captured on this date to present here. Featuring Gregory Dearth on fiddle, Thomas A. Hampton on mandolin, Timothy Sparkman on upright bass, John D. Hutchison on guitar & Robert L. Hutchison on banjo:

Roots Music” is still listened to, routinely, on my stereo set-up, and while I never got to see the earlier generation of giants of Bluegrass, I still enjoy that “high lonesome sound“, in particular, to this day. In fact, I would attend the very same festival, three years later, as it would provide a chance to see Emmylou Harris, as she was making the transition from her rockier sound of the Seventies, with The Hot Band, and began to record with a more acoustic approach to her particular songs, over the next few years.

The crowd mills about, near the wading pond/fountain area of The Belvedere, the day of the performances.

The Belle of Louisville departing with a boatload of people, on the Ohio River, within sight of The Belvedere.


Links related to the performers in the above images:

J.D. Crowe (Wikipedia entry):

Jerry Douglas (Wikipedia entry):

Ricky Skaggs (Wikipedia entry):

The Hutchison Brothers Discogs page:

Boone Creek Discogs page:

Roscoe Holcomb Wikipedia entry & The High Lonesome Sound:

Bill Monroe Wikipedia entry:

Katy/Katie Laur interview:

Katie Laur Discogs page:

Vassar Clements Wikipedia entry:


As always, constructive criticism, and thoughtful comments are welcome, and thanks, in advance, for visiting my blog/pages. There will be more to add, connecting an experience at LEMCO Recorders, with an old university pal of mine, within a year of these performances, at some time in the near future, so “stay tuned”.