The Rosine Barn Jamboree is a brief but fascinating detour from our usual Americana fare.
Yours truly went with family to visit relatives in Owensboro, Ky., and had the chance to be there on a Friday night.
Just a half hour or so southeast of Owensboro is the little town of Rosine, home of the Rosine Barn Jamboree.
And on many Friday nights throughout the summer you can go there for what is basically a Bluegrass jam session. Musicians get on stage and play whatever they -- or the audience -- feels like. You can bring your lawn chair and sit in the yard or bring your instrument and play with the band!
Longtime Owensboro resident John Howard is an occasional visitor to Rosine, which is also the birthplace of Bluegrass legend Bill Monroe, and wanted to show the visitors from Texas what goes on (for free!) on Fridays.
Howard, to our family, is simply known as Uncle John. Of course he prefers to go by the moniker "Greatest Uncle," but that's another story. My father-in-law Tom Devins was also there.
Howard was a bit disappointed in the turnout on this August night in Rosine. The crowd was sparse enough that there were actually seats available in the barn and so that's where we went.
On most Friday nights, we're told, you're lucky to bring your lawn chair and sit outside and have a view of the band. But on this night, there was only one band, not two or three, and there were many, many guitars but only one mandolin and no fiddles. Apparently they had a couple of other bands cancel. And, frankly, there was more classic country played than Bluegrass.
Despite the low turnout and the lack of diversity in the instrumentation, the whole concept of the Rosine Barn Jamboree is amazing.
First, you have to have a map, a good sense of direction and a stomach that doesn't tend to get queasy just to get there. It's a real ride through the country, up the hills, around the curves and finally you see it.
Second, anybody can just show up and get on stage. It's also free and there's very little to buy there in the way of merchandise or food. And certainly no alcohol!
So really, these people come to this little place in the middle of nowhere simply for the love of music and the love of playing music.
One woman slowly made it to the stage to sing a song with the band and explained this would be her last time there for a while. She was getting a hip replaced the following week. Now that's dedication.
Americana encompasses many variations of music and Bluegrass is certainly one of them. And to come to the very birthplace of that music with "the greatest uncle" was certainly an experience.
Throw in a fiddle and this place would be perfect!