Thursday, October 31, 2013

Bluegrass & Loar

A few months ago, I was notified that I’d won two weekend tickets to a Bluegrass festival held at a beautiful country resort.  It seemed like a great opportunity to relax, hear some good music and to collect more “behind the scenes” information about the workings of Bluegrass festival venues.  So… we headed out in our motorhome to take advantage of having won the prize!

I’m not unfamiliar with the time and energy that goes into organizing and directing large events and it was obvious that the director had worked her tail off:

  • Contacting sponsors for financial support
  • Collecting many raffle prizes from local businesses
  • Arranging for accommodations at a beautiful resort area, in a multimillion dollar lodge
  • Booking internationally and nationally recognized bands
  • Hiring “the best sound man out there” to provide the equipment and skill “necessary” for the amplification of the “new” Bluegrass styles
  • Etc., etc. etc.

We appreciated the opportunity, enjoyed our stay and met some wonderful people.  In fact, being there helped us in our journey of considering how we can rightly honor Lloyd Loar in his hometown.

Last winter when I began to plan for the first annual Lloyd Loar’s Hometown Bluegrass Festival, other than scheduling a few bands for stage shows, inviting jammers and listeners and getting the word out to the Bluegrass audience, I had little idea of what this festival might look like.  I never felt a need or desire to mimic what is already happening out there in the festival venue.  In fact, it seemed that this was to be different, but I didn’t really know what that meant.  I’m still not totally clear and I’m ok with that because I realize that it will evolve over the years into its own entity, if allowed.

It wasn’t long ago that someone responded to being introduced to my idea of a Bluegrass festival in honor of Loar saying. “I’m not sure that Loar would be honored.”  At first it ticked me off.  “Why wouldn’t he be honored to be remembered in his hometown for what he contributed to music?”  The more I thought about it, however, the more I began to realize that they were probably correct in their statement.  While Loar was known as a very kind man who had country roots, Loar was not a Bluegrass musician and it is not likely that he would have been impressed to have been recognized as a contributor to “hillbilly” music.  Loar was a very polished, highly educated and classically trained musician who was driven to “amount to more than a farmer” (

The majority of Bluegrass music fans are lower to middle-class country folk, many of whom are farmers.  While they may be aware of Loar’s name and his contribution to the development of the mandolin, most aren’t aware of and likely wouldn’t appreciate his perception of their “status” in this world!

I’d be in error if I didn’t consider, “Would Loar be rightly honored through a Bluegrass festival?”

Stay tuned as I share a series of articles focused on sorting through these important questions:

  • What is the history of Bluegrass?
  • Who was Lloyd Loar and what did he represent?
  • What is the focus of our place, Marigold Meadows?
  • How can these things rightly fit together to maintain that?  Or can they?


P.S.  Please feel free to contact me with questions, thoughts, topics you’d like to ponder or to read past articles at:  You may also contact me at:
             Bonnie Jaeckle
             In Search of the Whole-Hearted Life
             Diagonal Progress
             505 Jefferson St.
             Diagonal, IA 50845

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