Thursday morning is our time to appear at the Old Peanut Warehouse. Built in the nineteenth century, this unpainted barn of a building was resurrected by
Volunteers for various parts of the operation appear and leave during the day, but essentially this is
On Friday morning Gary Payne appears with his sound equipment for the Friday evening fund raiser.
One of the ways
On Saturday morning we arrive shortly after seven to find
A group of us help Steve Hinman erect his vending tent and set up his operation. Chick Filet is the sole food vendor, and they set up a tent next to Steve’s. The stage is decorated with the same carnations that decorated the stage last night.. To the right of the stage an area is set aside for the bands to place their merchandise tents from which they will sell their CDs and other paraphernalia. We have accomplished enough so that by mid-morning there’s no need to panic as approaches. Slowly the opening bands show up and are admitted to the Warehouse. They break out their instruments and begin to warm up in a couple of corners. The Grascals’ bus arrives from
Larry, the caterer, has brought in the buffet – chicken bog, turkey, ham, slaw, potato salad are supplemented from Miss Willi’s kitchen with cheese, her own home made summer sausage, nuts and more. One specialty of her house is the Cake in Bowl, a concoction of sponge cake, vanilla pudding, strawberries, and cut up bananas all layered to look festive and delicious. There are cakes and cookies and more. The entertainers who’ve played
For the next several hours I wander between backstage, in front of the stage taking pictures of the bands, and wandering around the crowd taking pictures of “the scene.” I stop to help Randy Waller pick up some rocks to hold down the fliers on his CD table and we end up talking about bluegrass history and his Dad’s role in it. He walked me back to his van and pulled a book out. It was a copy of Bluegrass Odyssey, a picture history of the music, which he has had signed by most of the living legends of bluegrass. As we talked I realized the gift, the burden, and the struggle of being descended from one of the greats. He tries, and sometimes manages, to pull it off gracefully. Meanwhile, it seems to me his band is improving and today his voice is the best I’ve heard it and the chemistry of his band is there.
The Lewis Family bus pulls up and folks go to the door to help Little Roy Lewis’ aging sisters into the Warehouse. They are aging and ill, but they are troopers and they’re here to perform. Little
A cool wind has begun to blow and by the time The Country Gentlemen have taken the stage a decision has been made to close the festival down, as thunder storms are headed right at us. The people leave quickly and the bands, too. Only two bands, Grasstowne and The Grascals miss their performances, but safety comes first.
On Sunday morning we arrive again at around eight to find that Elsie and Jackie Snipes along with Tom and Joan Moore have cleaned the grounds until they are nearly spotless.
Putting on even a small bluegrass festival is a complex affair requiring attention to detail as well as keeping the big picture in front at all times. Jennings Chestnut has pulled this off for yet another year, and even though weather has intervened, the festival has been a success.