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Bring on the bluegrass


October 07, 2015   By Nicole Aiello in Community

As the weather begins to cool and the trees shake off their summer greens for the fiery reds and burnt oranges of fall, I realize this is my favorite time of year. The smell of campfires, the cheers at football games and the coziness of my well-worn college sweatshirt are all reasons I love fall. Another reason is fall brings with it the season of festivals.

Fall festivals come in all shapes and sizes, but they all mean I get to be outside having fun with my favorite friends and family. And now, there's a new fall festival in town. Old Santee Canal Park is hosting the inaugural Biggin Swamp Bluegrass Festival on Saturday, Oct. 10, starting at 1 p.m. Not only is the name poetic, the musical lineup is pretty impressive, too. Listen closely – can you hear the mandolins and fiddles, too, or is it just me?

The Bluestone Ramblers will "pick" things off at 1 p.m. and the Blue Plantation Band will pluck their way to the stage an hour later. Strumming up next will be YeeHaw Junction before Flatt City, a five piece bluegrass band from Charleston, wraps things up in perfect harmony.

If you happen to be musically inclined and enjoy doing a little pickin' of your own, there will be a "pickin' circle" for you to join. Just bring your instruments with you. The event also features a jump castle for children, free tours of the Stony Landing House, and free canoe rentals.

For those of you interested in some of the history of bluegrass, Santee Cooper's Kevin F. Langston wrote a rousing story in this winter's edition of our magazine, PowerSource. If you don't have time to read it in its entirety, Kevin wrote up a little history just for this blog:

Though its roots reach back to the folk songs of early Scottish and Irish settlers, Bill Monroe can be credited with shaping traditional bluegrass in the 1940s. Monroe grew up playing mandolin on his family's farm in Kentucky and was influenced by the fiddle music of his Scottish heritage as well as the musical traditions of the Appalachian region.

Monroe's Blue Grass Boys would create the traditional bluegrass template. Named after his home state, the Blue Grass Boys lasted 58 years and saw over 150 musicians pass through its ranks. But it was the lineup that formed in 1948 — with Monroe on mandolin, Earl Scruggs on Banjo, Lester Flatt on guitar, Cedric Rainwater (née Howard Watts) on bass, and Chubby Wise on fiddle — that defined the classic bluegrass quintet.

Keep in mind, the Biggin Swamp Bluegrass Festival is a non-alcohol event, and guests are asked to leave their coolers, pets, and golf carts at home. This is for the safety of all those attending the festival. Admission is only $5 for adults and free for children 6 and under.

If you've never been to Old Santee Canal Park, you're in for a treat. It's just hop, skip and a jump away from Summerville, Charleston, Mount Pleasant and the islands. For details or directions, call Old Santee Canal Park at 843-899-5200 or visit oldsanteecanalpark.org.