On July 7, 1972, hundreds of bluegrass artists and fans packed the huge Virginia Theatre in Alexandria, VA, for the World Premiere of Bluegrass Country Soul.
One week later, the Washington Post announced –
‘Bluegrass Country Soul’: New High
During the past two years, bluegrass music has been steadily gaining a more broad-based audience. Attendance at festivals has been up and a good number of those in the audience have been the sort of long-haired, blue-jeaned, dope smokin’ folks you’d expect only at rock concerts.
Part of this is probably due to a gradual falling off of interest in the high-speed mega decibel madness of rock concerts, particularly among older fans who seem to be searching for more deeply rooted musical forms.
But rock music itself has borrowed certain elements of bluegrass, to the point that veteran Earl Scruggs now has a larger following of young people than of die-hard bluegrass fans.
The flowering interest in bluegrass has spawned its first film: Albert Ihde’s “Bluegrass Country Soul,” which opens today at six local theaters. It is filled with good music, good photography and interesting people. But above all else it is delightfully enjoyable to watch.
(To read the full review by Tom Zito, and other reviews, click here.)
Obviously, bluegrass music has come a long way since then. Thanks in part to the burgeoning multi-day festivals that Carlton Haney invented, live bluegrass music quickly spread to nearly every state in the Union.
Bluegrass Country Soul captured this music’s growth at an important turning point. As Sam Bush remembers Haney’s 1971 Labor Day Festival – “That was the weekend it all changed.”
Many of the most notable pioneers of the music shared the stage with upcoming young artists who were leading the way to what would soon be called “New Grass:”
- Tony Rice first appeared with J.D. Crowe’s band, which soon became the New South
- Sam Bush started the New Grass Revival the day after the festival closed
- The week of the festival, Doyle Lawson became the Country Gentlemen’s mandolinist, and would soon start his own group, Quicksilver
- Ricky Skaggs and Keith Whitley would leave Ralph Stanley’s Clinch Mountain Boys to become major stars on their own.
- The Bluegrass 45 would blaze the trail that spotlighted an international bluegrass community
Looking back with the advantage of a half-century’s perspective, we can watch Bluegrass Country Soul to measure where bluegrass was, and where it is today.
Many people have only seen Bluegrass Country Soul in short clips posted by fans on YouTube. But if you have the opportunity, every bluegrass lover should watch the movie with others, in order to recreate much of the festival-going experience.
Now, with the newly restored 35mm print, high definition 4K and Dolby enhanced surround-sound, the movie is back, and can be enjoyed now and by generations to come.
Celebrate the Golden Anniversary of this classic film’s release with our multi-media collection (DVDs, CDs, and book) and share Bluegrass Country Soul with your friends, relatives, and co-workers. It makes a perfect gift all year round.
Subscribe to the BGCS Newsletter, and receive information about special celebrations throughout this anniversary year.
I hope to meet you at a bluegrass festival, soon.
Bluegrass Country Soul
PS. Does your local library or college have a copy of Bluegrass Country Soul on its shelves? If not, drop us a note and we’ll contact them.