Each year for three days in June, fans come together to celebrate the truly original American music known simply as Bluegrass. What better way to capture a musical genre that is directly tied to the American experience than with Leica cameras that are themselves so closely connected to the history and tradition of photography. Developed from elements of folk traditions where family history was passed along through music, out of Appalachia came this mix of sounds characterized by the fiddle and the banjo that shape the Bluegrass sound.
Following in the boot-steps of such giants as Bill Monroe, Earl Scruggs, Lester Flatt, Chubby Wise and all of the Bluegrass Boys as they would come to be known, these new young performers of today are stretching the limits and pushing the traditional styles into distinctive sub-genres. And while many of the bands preserve the traditional Bluegrass sounds, the younger performers are creating a newer sound, known as Progressive Bluegrass. Using the Leica Q and M 240 I set out to capture the energy, passion and talent from the musicians who came to perform.
River of Music Party, The Roots and Branches Festival, or simply ROMP FEST are all names that describe what is arguably one of the best Bluegrass Music Festivals in the United States today. Just 30 miles or so from where it all started just outside of Rosine Kentucky, where Bill Monroe’s birthplace still sits on a hilltop known as Jerusalem Ridge. ROMP Fest as it has fondly become known hosts three days of American heritage and history through finger pickin’ foot stompin’ toe tappin’ Bluegrass Music played before 26,000 fans from 40 states and nine countries. This is clearly the place to be if you love Bluegrass Music. Whether you come to pitch your tent, park your recreational vehicle or simply plop down on a blanket there is something for every age over these three days in late June.
And this year’s musical line-up certainly did not disappoint, with bands offering up a variety of musical genres from traditional to progressive Bluegrass, Country and Rock-a-Billy. Throw in a Beatles cover song, say so long to Mr. Bojangles who danced for you in worn out shoes, and you have a mix that old Bill himself would sing along to. The line-up in part included Peter Rowan, Yonder Mountain String Band, The Jerry Douglas Band, Billy Strings, Rhiannon Giddens, The Punch Brothers,\ Los Lobos and The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, just to name a few.
What better way to
spend a summer night
than with your Leica
and great music?
Your festival experience begins Wednesday night with performances in downtown Owensboro Kentucky at the International Bluegrass Music Museum and moves to Yellow Creek Park, just outside of Owensboro on Thursday. The gently rolling land that makes up the park is a perfect setting and its natural amphitheater the perfect spot to enjoy the next three days. To get a sense of the scope of the talent at the festival go to rompfest.com. It is a remarkable three days of music from some of the best musicians and talent in the business today.