BGCS Newsletter Vol. IV Issue 8, Sept. 17, 2021
Photo of Festival Audience Looking at the Stage
The stage at Blue Grass Park, 1971
The stage at Camp Springs 2021
The stage at Blue Grass Park, 2021
Returns to Camp Springs, NC
For its Golden Anniversary

Ellen and I were overjoyed by the wonderful reception Bluegrass Country Soul and we received over our Labor Day weekend visit to Camp Springs, NC. The festival celebrated 50 years since the filming of Bluegrass Country Soul, on that very stage, and we were honored to be there. The festival and grounds were better than we ever could have imagined. Congratulations to Cody and Donna Johnson for their festival’s incredible success and the work they've done restoring the park and the stage, and a huge “thank you” for the generous hospitality they and their volunteers showed us throughout our visit.

We wish that all of you could have been there to attend this spectacular festival, but we know that the very real risk of COVID-19, and the results of hurricane Ida, understandably kept many folks from traveling this Labor Day weekend. We took photos and videos, which we have edited into a 14-minute movie, also found at the end of this newsletter. We hope you will enjoy it.

We hope that you all had a safe and productive summer, even though the pandemic continues, and storms increase in their ferocity. We are looking forward to this year’s World of Bluegrass conference in Raleigh, NC at the end of the month, where our 168-page coffee table book, Bluegrass Country Soul - The Legendary Festival, is nominated for "Best Liner Notes of 2021." We're so thrilled by this nomination! Our October newsletter will have photos and video of our trip.

Best always,
Albert Ihde and Ellen Pasternack
Producer/Director and Executive Director
A snapshot of the Bluegrass 45 in Bluegrass Country Soul, taken while
the movie was being shown onstage in Camp Springs, 2021.
Bluegrass Country Soul
Returns Home
This snapshot of the huge screen on the festival stage, above, doesn’t do justice to the actual impact the screening made, but we hope it gives some idea of what it looked like.
Standing on the stage where our film was shot fifty years ago, and looking out at the audience in this natural amphitheater, was a thrill and a half. Before the screening, Ellen and I spoke briefly. I polled the crowd, asking how many had been at the 1971 festival. While it was too dark to get an accurate count visually, by voice vote I would estimate around 20 to 30. Many in the crowd had never seen the film before. In my opinion, as the film’s director, I felt there couldn’t possibly be a more perfect venue for a first viewing of Bluegrass Country Soul.

Cody put a billboard size screen (14 feet by 48 feet) on the stage, and with a newly purchased, powerful digital projector, showed the restored, hi-definition edition of our film. The high-fidelity, festival sound-system, with a huge sub-woofer, played the sound track, and it was better than ever. Frequently, while watching the film in the cool, fresh, country air, I had the distinct feeling that I was seeing those musicians actually performing live, once again. Screening Bluegrass Country Soul on the very stage where it was filmed was absolutely magical. But then, I am not necessarily an objective critic of this movie. 
Cody Johnson, Festival Producer and current owner of Blue Grass Park.
Folks We Met
On his Carlton Haney's Bluegrass Festivals Facebook group, Bobby Ricketts wrote that he saw Ralph Stanley II standing at the side of the audience watching his father sing “Man of Constant Sorrow” on the big screen. I wish we had a photo of that. Ralph, II and the Clinch Mountain Boys also performed this song during their set earlier in the evening.

On Friday night, the one and only Bobby Osborne was shown singing in the movie with his brother, Sonny, and Ronnie Reno. Two nights later, he encored 3 songs from the movie in person on the same stage, 50 years later. Later this year, Bobby will turn 90.

We chatted with Missy Raines on the very spot where she was filmed in 1971, walking in her purple dress, under a pink umbrella. This multi award-winning, Grammy nominated bassist, singer and songwriter delivered a beautiful set with her band, Allegheny.

Ellen and I also had a chance to talk with Gary Wilson, who performed at this 2021 festival. He and his brother Greg had performed at nearly all of Carlton Haney’s shows in the late 60s and 70s, and can be heard in our 2 CD Set of Additional Music from the 1971 festival.

Doyle Lawson said he had lots of memories of this stage in Camp Springs. During his performance he noted the passing of Bill Emerson, whom Doyle called “one of the finest banjo players ever.” Ellen and I agree.
Golf carts at Blue Grass Park
Golf Carts in Blue Grass Park
Anyone who had been to Blue Grass Park back in the 70s would be surprised at how much has changed, and also how so little has. I never would have guessed what the most obvious difference would be after half a century. For me, it was golf carts. Can you picture Carlton Haney zooming around in a “Carlton Cart”?
Mother Nature has transformed much of the area over the decades. The hillside behind the stage, which was open in 1971, is now covered with trees and bushes. The open fields across the road from the park, seen during the early minutes of the movie, are now overgrown. The trail that the Country Gentlemen took on their way to the stage, is now a gravel path, and most of the trees to the right are gone.
The stage has been enlarged with an apron extending out into the audience, with theatrical lighting overhead. As mentioned earlier, the festival sound-system is superb.
While we had heard that the stage had suffered from time and erosion, I was glad to see that the structure still stands, though shows its age. Not a big surprise, after half a century.
Albert signs an autograph photo by Jeromie Stephens
Albert autographs a copy of Bluegrass Country Soul - The Legendary Festival, part
of our 3-Piece Collection and also available a la carte. Photo by Jeromie Stephens.
As we walked around the festival grounds, we met and chatted with some of the sponsors of this project, long-time fans of the film, and many who had seen the film for the first time. We were delighted to sign copies of the book, Bluegrass Country Soul - The Legendary Festival (which is part of our Golden Anniversary box set and available a la carte).

We discovered that for so many people, Camp Springs’ Blue Grass Park is a very special site.

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I’ll close here and let our little, 14-minute movie fill in the blanks. Our thanks to photographer Jeromie Stephens for allowing us to use the great pictures he shot of us during the festival.
Here's a short movie of our trip to Camp Springs, NC over Labor Day. Bluegrass Country Soul was honored throughout the weekend, and shown on the same stage where it was filmed!
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