Thanks to the popularity of the Grammy-winning O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack, the masses have welcomed bluegrass into their suburban hearts. An art form as old as the hill clans of Kentucky where the music originated, some 550 bluegrass festivals take place all over the U.S. every year. Those in the bluegrass know head to Syria, Virginia, each year for an event held the weekend after Memorial Day. The base of the Blue Ridge Mountains, two hours from both Richmond and D.C., is the site of the Graves Mountain Festival.
Celebrating its 10th year, the festival pulls in more than 5,500 music fans to see national and mainstream artists within the bluegrass industry. The gathering takes place at the Graves Mountain Lodge, which serves down-home dishes like ribs and trout and also offers horseback riding, tennis, fishing, and hiking. Think of it as camping out with knee-slappin' live bluegrass as your soundtrack. For more info on other bluegrass festivals, check out www.TheBluegrassConnection.com, the first authority in all things bluegrass.
The Civil War battlefield Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, is the site for the semiannual Gettysburg Bluegrass Festival. Held last month and again August 22-25, approximately 30 bands take the stage for each foot-stomping affair.
Bluegrass' founding father, Bill Monroe, passed away in 1996, but the music he created lives on in the eight-day bluegrass free-for-all founded in 1966 and known as the Bill Monroe Memorial Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival (June 9-16) held throughout Kentucky. Though a bit harder to get to, it's the true way that the music is meant to be heard - coming from its rural, open-landscaped roots.