Indiana Daily Student

Barbecue and bluegrass

Blues heads to Bean Blossom for 3 days

In Bean Blossom this weekend, the thick scent of barbeque will waft through the air.\nCampers will enjoy heaping servings of spare ribs and kettle corn, with harmonicas and slide guitars wailing away all the while.\nFor the second year, the Bean Blossom Blues Festival will be held Friday through Sunday at the Bill Monroe Music Park, five miles north of Nashville, Ind. on Highway 135. The festival is headlined by legenday bluegrass figures including Snooky Pryor and Willie J. Foster.\nThe seed for the festival was sewn with a simple idea. \n"A lot of prominent names in bluegrass have always come into my shop," said festival founder John Hall, owner of the Harp Depot in New Palestine. "And I got to know a good many of them very well. So I had the idea to ask them to play together."\nBut upon reflection, Hall decided to be more ambitious.\n"We decided there was no reason we shouldn't make it public," he said. "So we've been trying to create a world-class music event -- a bluegrass festival like Woodstock." \nSo Hall decided to take it down to Bean Blossom.\n"We figured it would be out-of-place in the Indianapolis area," he said. "We wanted to make it more real and genuine."\nIt would have been hard to find a more appropriate place than Bean Blossom, which is host to many annual blues festivals. Kentucky-native Bill Monroe, widely regarded as the father of bluegrass, called the town home for four decades before his death in 1996. Monroe developed the genre by performing country songs with unamplified string instruments such as the fiddle, mandolin and banjo.\n"Yeah, Bean Blossom's got a rich history," Hall said. "And it's just got a great name. It just sounds folksy."\nHall said the festival should be three whole days of pure bliss for music lovers.\n"We've got a lot of legendary performers booked," he said. "And they're not just big figures in blues. A lot of people in rock and roll think of Snooky (Pryor) as an influence."\nPlugging away with his harmonica for more than 60 years, Pryor has been a highly influential figure in bluegrass. He picked up the instrument at age eight, in spite of the admonitions of his father.\n"My daddy'd hang me if he ever heard me singing the blues," he said.\nBy age 16, wanderlust had filled his soul. He hit the road, traveling throughout the middle Mississippi Valley region. After moving to Chicago, Pryor joined the Army. Stationed in the South Pacific, he entertained his fellow troops with his free-styling improvisation.\nHaving sharpened his skills, Pryor returned to Chicago, where he started a band and recorded his first album, Telephone Blues. He rose to the forefront of the Chicago blues scene, largely because of his unique style.\n"There's a right way and a wrong way," said Mel Brown, who will play with Pryor this weekend. "And then there's Snooky's way."\nHe took a hiatus from the Maxwell Street club scene for eight years to take up carpentry.\nHaving grown disillusioned with the music business, he said, "I wanted to live a different life."\nBut Pryor's back in full force, having released two albums in 1999. He also made two visits to southwest Indiana, playing the the Bill Monroe Bluegrass festival, the longest-running in the world, and the inaugural Bean Blossum festival.\nAdmission is $20 for Friday, $25 for Saturday and $10 Sunday. Camping on location costs $11 each night. For more information, call (800) 783-7996 or visit www.harpdepot.com/blues.html.

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