Bluegrass “mini-festival” in Pitt Meadows

Volunteers, sponsors and musicians needed for Sept. 15 party for Bill Monroe in Pitt Meadows

John Reischman and the Jaybirds will headline the festival on Sept. 15.

John Reischman and the Jaybirds will headline the festival on Sept. 15.

The man who christened “bluegrass music” was a Kentuckian named Bill Monroe.

If he were alive today, Monroe would be 101 years on Sept. 11.

“We want to honour Bill’s landmark contribution to the world of music by throwing a ‘Happy Birthday Bill Monroe party,'” says Robert Hornsey of Bergthorson Academy of Musical Arts.

Beginning with his Blue Grass Boys in the ’40s, Monroe defined a hard-edged style of country that emphasized instrumental virtuosity, close vocal harmonies, and a fast, driving tempo.

The musical genre took its name from the Blue Grass Boys, and Monroe’s music forever has defined the sound of classical bluegrass – a five-piece acoustic string band, playing precisely and rapidly, switching solos and singing in a plaintive, high lonesome voice.

The evening planned will be a celebration of the bluegrass music, hosted by Maple Ridge musician and raconteur Denis Leclerc.

Leclerc hosts the popular “Bluegrass music circle” twice a month in Pitt Meadows, that has become a gathering place for some of the best bluegrass musicians in the region.

The main stage headliners at the festival will be the internationally acclaimed band John Reischman and the Jaybirds.

Hornsey hopes the “Happy Birthday Bill Monroe Party” will grow from this year’s “mini-festival” to a larger annual event. “Bluegrass music, characterized by its complex vocal harmonies, mandolin, banjo, fiddle, guitar and bass instrumentation is going through a revival,” he says, pointing to the success of the movie Oh Brother Where Art Thou, groups like Mumford and Sons as well as the inclusion of bluegrass instruments and musical licks by many contemporary ‘indie’ artists.