Bluegrass music has a quality that can seem as old as the mountains themselves. Perhaps this is why it is sometimes described as having a "high lonesome sound." And while Sevierville, Tennessee's place at the foot of the Smoky Mountains may give you that high mountain feeling, you surely won't be lonesome at their Bloomin' Barbeque & Bluegrass Festival May 20-21.
Thousands of people will attend this annual festival, and while they come hungry for the sound of flatpicking guitar players shuffling along with the upbeat tempo of the rhythmic slap on an upright bass and the chop of the mandolin, (for the sound of banjo pickers trade lightning-fast leads with sawing fiddlers and Dobro players) they are equally drawn to the smell of tender meats cooking slow and low in hardwood smoke that wafts through the streets of Sevierville.
Forty-five cook teams of ‘cuers and pit masters - representing 10 states ranging from the southeast to as far away as Washington state - have all come to compete for the title of 2016 Bush's Best Tennessee State Championship Cook Off grand champion. If you've ever had the desire to sample award-winning barbecue, this is the place to be.
But it doesn't just come down to the meat. Among the festival's whirlwind of Appalachian-class musical acts are two internationally-recognized masters of the genre: bluegrass legends Bobby Osborne & the Rocky Top X-Press, who will be performing two hour-long sets on Saturday, one in the afternoon and one in the evening, as well as multiple International Bluegrass Music Association Award winners and Saturday night headlining performance the Gibson Brothers.
There are many ways in which you can actually participate in all that Bloomin' Barbeque & Bluegrass has to offer, too. There is a Mountain Soul Vocal Competition, a People's Choice Tasting Contest presented by Dolly Parton's Lumberjack Adventure as well as a Late Night Jam presented by Dixie Stampede, which begins at 10pm, Friday night, and goes into the early morning hours on Saturday.
*Featured image credit: Bloomin' Barbeque & Bluegrass Festival