What you see is the result of years of work, donations and the collaboration of many people. They feel, as I do, that the documentation of Maine’s rich bluegrass history is vital in understanding and learning the roots of how our favorite music got started and its progression through the years.
Maine is a long ways from Kentucky and Nashville, Tennessee but the radio brought bluegrass music north to Maine and beyond. Mainers were listening and began emulating their favorite country artists, brother duets, string bands and various old time musicians. By 1945 Bill Monroe set the Grand Ole Opry ablaze with his new band line-up that most historians agree was the birth of bluegrass music. That particular exciting sound with the new style of Scruggs banjo playing, combined with speed and new syncopations along with a new way of harmony singing, instantly inspired countless musicians to copy and expand the music worldwide.
When I started to attend bluegrass shows in the mid 1970s I often pinned the posters to a wall in my kitchen. As I traveled around the numbers of posters grew and became my own little collection. In 1985 Nellie Kennedy and I started our own festival. By then I was an alumnus of the Bluegrass Supply Company and Nellie was a member of the Misty Mountaineers. We both were performing a lot and our collection was growing. We covered both sides of the back wall of our festival stage with posters of shows, festivals and bands.
Sometime around the late 1990’s we decided to donate the collection to the newly formed BMAM of which we were charter members and the Archive Committee was born. We actively sought out any archival pieces and encouraged folks to donate anything associated with Maine’s bluegrass history. The collection kept growing with many categories.
Enter BMAM member Darwin Davidson. I honestly feel that there would be no Archive Page to view without his involvement. Darwin is a well known and respected photographer of bluegrass musicians at Grey Fox, Joe Val, Thomas Point Beach and other festivals. They have benefited from his work as Master of Ceremonies to hosting entire bands. He also has co-hosted the WERU radio show, Bronzewound, for many years. He has a professional studio in Deer Isle. He graciously offered to take pictures of all our archives and help categorize them – a monumental task- if we were up to it.
Nellie and I jumped at the chance and made our 1st of many trips Down East. By this time BMAM had a new web page and we envisioned the inclusion of pictures of our entire collection online. Because of the volume we had to post on a new, temporary, Facebook page until the web site was upgraded and we had a web master that could handle the project.
Enter BMAM member Cyndi Longo, our current web master who spent many hours over the years to upload and work on the archive pages and continues to do a great job.
As I’ve said, these are the pictures of the collection. The actual, physical collection is thankfully stored at the Maine Country Music Hall Of Fame Museum at 272 Lewiston Road, Mechanic Falls, ME. BMAM helps to support the museum with annual contributions. The building is safely secured, insured, clean and climate controlled. If you would like a guided tour of the museum call Ken Brooks @ 207-654-2227 and please consider giving a donation. Also, if you have items of interest for our project and would like to donate to our collection, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
So here it is, for the world to see – an ongoing project of Maine’s bluegrass history. As you embark on this trail I hope you enjoy and appreciate seeing what we have. The journey goes on and on…..