07 Jul what’s with backyard bluegrass & bbq?
A few of my friends have asked what’s up with the recent invite to a Facebook Page for “Backyard Bluegrass & BBQ.” I thought I’d share why I sent the invite.
First, an apologetic disclaimer:
No one has said anything negative, but I now realize it may seem off-putting to some for me to have sent the invite. I have almost 3,800 “Facebook Friends”. Obviously, I don’t know all of them personally. When I created the Page, and went to “invite friends,“ I was a little overwhelmed with scrolling through 3,800 names. Instead, I clicked the “invite all friends” option. Usually pretty good at thinking these things through, I didn’t think this one all the way through. So, my apologies for anyone who may have been put off by , “why is this guy I’ve never met and only have on my FB feed inviting me to something personal?”
Now for the real story…
Without ALL the details, back in April of 2019, I was invited by friends to an event that caught me by surprise. It was a Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder concert in a barn in a neighboring community. Honestly, I had heard Ricky’s name, but really wasn’t aware of who he was or his stature.
Showing up with my friends at their invitation, we drove on to this very non-descript, everyday-looking farm that houses the Little River Bluegrass Barn (formerly Carl’s Bluegrass & Gospel Barn) and parked in some dirt moist from recent rain showers. The friend is long-time friends with Ricky and his wife. We walked toward the barn, past the tour bus parked nearby and into an open door that turned out to be the back stage area. There was Ricky and his band, along with their opening band, finishing their potluck dinner that the concert hosts had provided.
Ricky saw my friends and greeted them warmly. My friends introduced us, they caught up for a few minutes and we took a few pictures, leaving that area for the other side of the barn for the seating area.
We entered a barn full of at least 250-300 people packed in. The buzz was electric. My friend approached the ticket table, said something I couldn’t hear, whereupon an usher approached and led us to seats…. in the front row!!
A few moments later, the host welcomed everyone, led the Pledge of Allegiance and a prayer, and introduced the opening act. Side note….keep your eye on Presley Barker… mark my words.
After I was quite blown away by this young man and his band, out comes Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, and thunderous the show was. It was personal as Ricky told stories of amazing bluegrass history, and I heard names of bluegrass fame I had no connections for, but couldn’t help but respect already. It was energizing, as every… single… musician In the band was skilled beyond measure and made their craft look like nothing but a ton of fun! It was honoring as every musician was given plenty of space to show off, and I would later learn that this is a hallmark of every true bluegrass band. It was moving as band members were allowed to share their personal stories of both victory and defeat, back to victory again. It was spiritual, as Ricky kept talking about Jesus, and the line for his autograph afterward was peppered with Ricky spending time hearing people’s stories and praying with every few of them.
Thus began my head and heart deep dive journey into the world of bluegrass that I’ve been reveling in these last 14 months. I’ve learned bluegrass history that delights, searched for and heard some great musicians near and far, filled my Apple Music library with the same, and enjoyed concerts of some of my favorites around VA, NC, and TN.
All that began a couple months after Colleen and I moved to a special piece of land here in Christiansburg, VA, our home of the last 5 years. As we’ve been to a handful of outdoor music events, we’ve dreamt of hosting some here.
God has an amazing way of causing our paths to cross with the right people at the right times. A few months back, I was connected by mutual friends with a guy over the idea of using my 5 car garage as a place of a car repair ministry. We connected, clicked, and continued doing so.
While getting to know each other, it came up that he plays guitar in a new bluegrass band called New River Drive , with all of the members located here in Christiansburg. Those conversations have morphed into the launch of this idea. Turns out this friend also has a side gig running his own record label. He produces music for new talent in the area.
It’s his band that will headline our inaugural house concert in our backyard, on Saturday. July 11, and we’re just tickled about it!
That my friends, is the story of Backyard Bluegrass & BBQ