Lexington’s Southland Jamboree, Live Music, & Community

 “Throw out the radio and take down the fiddle from the wall.” – Andrew Lytle

Velvet Blue 01

It’s hard to beat live music, especially summertime outdoor live music. Make it neighborhood summertime outdoor live music and you’ve reached live music nirvana (confession: I never actually saw Nirvana live).

That brings us to Lexington’s Southland Jamboree. During my decade of exile from Kentucky I rarely got to see live Bluegrass music. I was overjoyed to find that in my absence a weekly neighborhood summer Bluegrass concert series had sprung up on Southland Drive. The better news is that’s only a few blocks from our house.

Southland Drive 1

The series opened the Tuesday following Memorial Day on a grassy spot behind the bowling alley with the eponymous local band Southland Drive. Last week was the more youthful Velvet Blue (who did not perform a Bluegrass version of ‘Blue Velvet’). Tonight is the band Newtown (see the full summer schedule).

Velvet Blue 02But Bluegrass is not simply a spectator sport. After an hour listening to the evening’s scheduled entertainment, the natives get their turn as audience jamming begins. This is in keeping with Andrew Lytle’s admonition in I’ll Take My Stand, “Throw out the radio and take down the fiddle from the wall.” Sometimes we need the right nudge to do just that.

What are building blocks of community and culture? It’s a complex question, but I would argue that two elements are eating together and making music together. The Bluegrass Jamboree is the sort of local project that promotes local culture and true community. Our folding chairs are in the trunk, and an evening picnic will be ready for tonight’s show.

Southland Jamboree


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