Gettin’ There

 In May, 1971, we heard through the music grapevine about a Bean Blossom Bluegrass Jamboree on Bill Monroe’s property in Nashville, Indiana. We were so on this. Our baby named Dylan was all of 20 days old. We had a wonky pup tent and we wanted to be on the same ground with the finest musicians we’d all fallen love with; in the air was a resurgence of music roots just a year prior to the release of the timeless icon of an LP ‘Will The Circle Be Unbroken’. Bob Dylan had set a new pace with ‘Nashville Skyline‘ in 1969.
Jim, his sister and her husband and I packed up; we took the J-45, for what it was worth, and the blue VW squareback….rolled some t-shirts and headed to Brown County, Indiana. We hardly knew the history that was being set before us; it’s what halcyon days are made of.

Feelin’ It

It was one big super wow when we got there; in between the gingham plaid shirts, tall-ass swoopie western hats, bolo ties and crisp white orlon pants…..we spotted so many other folk-hippie people we didn’t feel as ‘outsider’ as we expected. It made us feel inside, seeing all the pickers and players just sitting in circles all over the Monroe grounds, acres of riffs and pickin’ like we’d never seen in our lives. {walking around we’d see Vassar Clements or Ralph Stanley, just sitting on folding chairs outside a VW van, showing chords and licks to minor league pickers and strummers}
We tried to act as cool as they did, it was serious hard.

Doin’ It

The lineup of Bean Blossom performers rivaled anything you can name today.
On an outdoor stage the size of an average backyard patio:
JOHN HARTFORD, VASSAR CLEMENTS, NORMAN BLAKE, MIKE SEEGER, DOC WATSON, RALPH STANLEY & THE CLINCH MOUNTAIN BOYS and FLATT & SCRUGGS, performing all in one southern Indiana woods; playing with the precision and refinement like anyone who has ever practiced picking and strumming for one gillion hours, on any one given stringed instrument.
The whole time at Bean Blossom, we’d feed the baby, then rush for the performers on stage we could hear announced through the woods…and they’d be standing in front of us playing, these icons…..and it would sail us into the future with the strongest love of bluegrass and roots music ever to be had.

Keepin’ It

In 2008 at the CEA Music Awards in Emery Theater, watching the former newborn Dylan hold the upright bass for Ralph Stanley & Clinch Mountain Boys; helping back-stage with their performance… my heart leaped one extra beat, knowing some roots had taken hold for good.
I met Ralph Stanley in 2012, waiting in line after his last Emery show; I wanted him to sign my DVD of the 1971 Bean Blossom Bluegrass Jamboree we’d all been to way back. Dr. Stanley was tiny and sparkling in his western stage gear. He looked like he’d just performed for the very first time; exhilarated from the music and the show. I reached out and shook his hand and could see his eyes twinkling; just like when I first saw them 45 years ago.
Goodbye, Dr. Ralph.

The Little Boy and The Gorilla

Talk about compromise and endangerment.
The second the little boy fell into a moat in the natural habitat of an adult male gorilla, at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens on May 28; both immediately became e.n.d.a.n.g.e.r.e.d. and their lives compromised. The little boy and the gorilla became vulnerable doing what came naturally to each of them.

  1. The gorilla was endangered from his natural African environment encroached upon by man, and other threats.
  2. The child was endangered; out of reach of caretakers or rescuers; coming face to face with a 400+ gorilla and nowhere to run.





What would compel Harambe to jump into the moat gorillas can’t stand, according to primates experts?
A Little Boy

Harambe, a beautiful Western Lowlands Silverback Gorilla, is categorized as “Critically Endangered” by the World Wildlife Federation. Harambe followed his instincts at the zoo; he explored, he followed what came naturally on a daily basis….Harambe was living in a habitat that included shrubs from his natural environment especially grown for him to eat. Harambe did not know the days of the week, or what a child exactly was. Harambe literally jumped with his natural instincts last Saturday, when an intruder in the form of a little boy, came into his environment…he even leaped into the moat he doesn’t like. Harambe was responding to life as he was created to do.



What compelled a little boy to crawl through a barrier and then fall 15 feet into a stone-enforced moat at zoo?
A Gorilla

When you’re very young your world is pretty huge; exploring is what you’ll do, regardless of the outcome. Cause and effect doesn’t amount to much, when you’re 3 or 4. A lot of times, you just go for it. Falling into a gorilla’s moat isn’t what happens everyday, but it comes naturally to little kids to climb and fall, compelled by instincts to touch life. The little boy responded to life as he was created to do.



Our community, and it appears the nation, has been reeling from the seconds that mattered, when the little boy fell into Harambe’s environment. Harambe, the Western Lowland Gorilla, met his early fate due to a compelling need of a small child to do what nature called him to do. The gorilla did the same.

My darling 5-year-old grandchild Clara went to the Cincinnati Zoo yesterday. She didn’t notice the protesters out front begging her to “Boycott the Zoo”. Her parents are members, from her first year of birth. Clara wouldn’t notice the blocked-off primate natural habitat exhibit, when she ran to her favorite places in the zoo, her world is enchanting, just like the little boy who fell into Harambe’s moat.



But Clara may have noticed the flowers on one of her favorite images at the zoo, the gorilla statue…she loves climbing on it, there are many photos of her doing that.

Children notice the things that make them sing with life; they respond to the call. That’s what the little boy did the afternoon he fell into the moat to see the gorilla.
And it changed everything.