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17th Annual Spring Bluegrass Festival, Rholetter's Apple Valley Music Park

Posted by retiredguy on Monday, April 27, 2009


The 17th Annual Spring Festival officially began on April 22nd, Wednesday. I was still in too much pain to attend.

The Loritab was doing it’s job for the pain but I was afraid I would not be able to move around once I got there. Thursday morning, I made up my mind, I had to get out of this house and try to get out of this rut and suppress the depression. I called two of my daughters to come over to my house and help me load the Motor home.  Neither of them thought I was up to the trip alone but they came anyway and loaded it. My banjo and guitar, some food and coffee and I took off around ten in the morning. It took me a couple of hours to get there, I got lost in Anderson, SC (again) because they have changed a lot of roads since my GPS was loaded.

I arrived around 12 pm and was greeted by Jack Rholetter, his twin sister, and Mike Eades. This was to be Jack’s last festival and Mike Eades was taking over running this and future festivals. All of them great people I saw from our meeting. Jack showed me to my parking space and helped me set up.

I didn’t really know what to expect, what kind of festival this was to be but I was ready for anything. I could feel it in my bones that this was going to be a great experience. There may have been 30 or more campers/RVs, some had been there since Monday. There was no parking lot picking going on, which was a disappointment me to me as that has always been my primary reason for going to these Bluegrass festivals. Little did I know how new this experience this would be for me.

I didn’t get my instruments out at first and managed to get about half-way down to the concert area. There was a elderly man sitting under a tent like deal with a table full of Cassetts, selling them to raise money for the American Cancer Society. He had a little shade and I asked if I could sit with him a while. He introduced him sell as Bud Moore. As we talked he brought my mind into a new realm of Bluegrass Music, something I HAD NEVER considered. The Bluegrass fan. I had always seen all these folks that show up from their cars and campsites to sit under the cover of the Concert area. They showed up when the first band started playing and stayed until the last one finished. Fortunately there were food venders close to the area and therefore they could take a little food break and get back to listening. As I talked with Mr. Moore he told me of the festivals he and his family had attended over the years. He was going to the festivals at Shoal Creek ten years before my first one there in 1977. He had been all over to festivals, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina over the years. I then asked him what instrument he played, he doesn’t play anything. That took me aback. It never occurred to me that people actually attend Bluegrass festivals just to listen to the music. I know that sounds silly but I just assumed every regular Bluegrass fan at least played a guitar. Over the weekend I talked with some mighty fine TRUE Bluegrass fans. All my camping neighbors and none of them admitted to playing anything but talked about the last festival they attended and where their next one would be. It was amazing to me. Most of them had them planned out for the summer. They were gracious enough to invite me and told me where their campsite would be at the festivals. This really has changed my view of these festivals. I now realize that the folks putting these festivals on can’t put them on just for their love of the music. They depend on these loyal fans to help cover all the expenses of grounds, bands, electricity and everything else involved in putting these things on.  What a wonderful bunch of people I had the pleasure of chatting with and getting into my new mindset of Bluegrass Festivals.

I had the luck of running into a guy, Doug Wooten,  that I picked with years ago.  Back then, I thought he was the best amateur guitar picker I had ever picked with. It turned out his dad had passed away back last year and as we talked about him, I realized I had met his dad. Specifically, I remembered his dad B.A Wooten. We had sat together years ago and picked together and he showed how to really play a “D” Chord. I was new at playing and always thought of the D chord as a fill in when playing in the key of G. He demonstrated to me what a Driving Chord it could be when play correctly, I have not forgotten that experience after all these years.

As far as the rest of the festival went, with my new viewpoint of Bluegrass music, it could not have been more fun. All the bands were just great, it didn’t matter to me if they were famous or just local “put together” bands, they were ALL great.

It was announced from the stage that one of the bands that was scheduled to play would not  be there because of tragic boating accident the day before. The band “Here and Now Band” from Virginia had lost two of their members (twin brothers), due to a tragic boating accident. They had been killed in the accident. A lot of prayers went up to the families, the band and to the young men themselves. It was a sad time that was held in perspective.

I also have to mention, as many festivals that I have been to, I never seen as much witnessing coming from the stage as I did this weekend.  Every band seemed to witness to the Lord either in their music of by voice. The entire event was a blessing to me in more ways than one. If I’m still around, yes, I’m going back next year.

By the way, you may have guessed, I now feel that I am on the road to recovery, out of my funk and have not needed a lortab today. I think I may have a future after all and know for sure, I am now a real Bluegrass fan.

Don Burnette CPO US Navy (R)

2 comments on “17th Annual Spring Bluegrass Festival, Rholetter's Apple Valley Music Park”

Laurence Diehl Says:
Tuesday, April 28, 2009 @2:38:31 PM

Appreciate your blog - made me feel like I was actually there!

1mandodave Says:
Wednesday, April 29, 2009 @6:21:05 PM

Hello Don, I am so glad you did make it to Rholetter's and glad you had a good time and learned something about BG festivals. I also though it was a great festival although there was a lot of bands that had members missing for one reason or the other. Lot of fill-ins going on but that was OK and I think everybody understood. I did the sound for the festival and have for a few years and also played on Saturday with my group, Last Road. Also playing Wednesday and Thursday with Oconee County Bluegrass. You made some very nice comments about the festival and the people you met and you really made me feel good about the festival as a whole. It was a very Spirtual festival as a lot of Christian bands and fans attend. I was so glad to find your blog and I will pass it along. Don't forget about Marty Moore's Pick-A-Cure on May 16 in Easley, SC. A great cancer fundraiser.
Hope to see you Down The Road!
Dave Snyder

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