The music Bill Monroe developed in the forties and which came to be called bluegrass after his band The Bluegrass Boys emerged from its roots in gospel, mountain music, popular music of the day, jazz, and the beginnings of rock to become a show music played by acoustic bands on stages. It is fast, tight, intricate, and addictive to those who come to know and love it, but it many ways it has become so constructed as to lose touch with its roots. The Woodbine Opry returns bluegrass lovers to the very roots of the music.
Before the music begins, the ladies of the town provide a pot luck supper. It’s pot luck because no one knows before they get there what’s going to be served since the food is prepared at home and brought to the school to serve a southern style home cooked buffet. We arrived at and found a line of Red Hats ahead of us in line and the rest of the line rapidly forming behind us. For $7.00 we bought our tickets and proceeded to wend our way through the line. Greens, beans and ham, corn and grits, tomatoes and okra, spaghetti, fried chicken, kielbasa, lots of casseroles in slow cookers, macaroni salad, potato salad, slaw, corn bread and biscuits, peach cobbler, banana pudding, marshmallow delight – what you’d expect at a family reunion in the south. We join a couple we had met from
Folks start to move into the auditorium where seat cushions were stacked in piles at the back, and the music began. Obviously there is a group of regulars on the stage – mandolin, lots of guitars, a couple of resonator guitars, one banjo, some fiddles – up to twenty musicians on stage at once. It is quite obvious that anyone with an instrument, including voice, is welcome to join the group on stage and perform. Soloists make their way to the mike, call a song, and kick it off with everyone else joining in. Tempos are reasonable to enable less able pickers to feel comfortable. One fiddler, a handsome woman from
The audience is a mixed bag. There are more local people on the stage than in the audience. Two groups, a church group and the Red Hat ladies, create a larger than ordinary crowd. A large contingent from
Information about the Woodbine Opry can be found at www.woodbineopry.com . People planning to attend should arrive in plenty of time to finish dinner before heading into the auditorium for a fine time.