Today's hip country sounds have America up and dancing. Whether it's the "Achy Breaky," the "Boot Scootin' Boogie," the "Cheatin' Heart," the "Cowboy Hip Hop," the "Tush Push" or any number of others, the hip hop sound of 1990s pop country music can make even the most shaded of wallflowers start their toes a-tappin'.
It seems as though when Brooks and Dunn, Billy Ray Cyrus and Garth Brooks, among others, hit the scene, country music found many "Friends in Low Places" it did not know about.
But there's another type of country music, in stark contrast to this fast-paced, progressive pop style. It is called bluegrass.
Bill Monroe, called by fans and experts "the father of bluegrass," says his use of instruments and what has been described as his "high-pitched wail" have given his music an identity all its own.
"It's a music built around my style of mandolin playing and singing," Mr. Monroe says in "Grand Ole Opry: WSM Picture Book," published by Opryland U.S.A. in 1984. "It's got a hard drive to it, and Scotch bagpipes and old-time fiddle. It has Methodist and Holiness and Baptist church sounds in it, and blues and jazz.
"It has a high, lonesome sound. It's a clean music, and it tells a good story."
More than 2,000 disciples of bluegrass are expected to converge on the carnival grounds of the Kingsdale Fire Company tonight through Sunday. The sounds of mandolins, fiddles, banjos and other acoustic instruments will fill the night with music as 14 bands from across the United States perform for the crowd throughout the four-day event.
Tonight a potluck dinner for anyone holding a weekend ticket will open the event, beginning at 6 p.m. From 7:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m., Ernie Bradley and Grassy Ridge from Emmitsburg, Pipe Creek Blue Grass from Taneytown, and Doc and Chickie Williams from Wheeling, W.Va., will perform.
On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, from 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., breakfast will be served in the fire hall.
Friday afternoon, beginning at 4 p.m., the music will continue. Jimmy Moore and the Blue Mountain Boys from Pittsburgh, Petticoat Junction and the Osborne Brothers, both from Tennessee, and a fourth band, yet to be announced, will entertain until midnight.
Saturday the festivities will begin at 11:30 a.m. when James Monroe, son of Bill Monroe, and James' group the Midnight Ramblers, all from Tennessee, will perform. Also on the roster are the Sullivan Family from Alabama, Gary Brewer and the Kentucky Ramblers from Kentucky, Larry Sparks and the Lonesome Ramblers from Indiana, and the Gillis Brothers from ++ Georgia.
While the bands are playing Saturday, a square dance will be held in the fire hall. Instrument workshops will also be offered.
From 6:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, an open-mike session will provide an audience for anyone who wants to sing or play bluegrass-related music.
The bands will resume at 7 p.m. and the music will continue until midnight.
On Sunday, a special gospel show is planned. Beginning at 10 a.m., Bluegrass Image from Frederick, Al and Jean Shade from York, Pa., and the Sullivan Family will perform bluegrass gospel favorites until noon, after which alternate traditional bluegrass music will be presented by the same performers until 4 p.m.
The Carroll County Ramblers are sponsoring the Bluegrass Festival. Dottie Eyler, coordinator of the festival, said that in the past bluegrass lovers have come from as far as Germany, Canada and Japan to enjoy the music or to perform.
Advance ticket prices for all four days, including the potluck supper, are $30. At the gate, a weekend pass will cost $35.
If you would like to attend the event for only one day, the prices of tickets are as follows: Thursday, $8; Friday, $12; Saturday, $16; and Sunday, $12. If you just want to stop in for breakfast, the cost of the meal alone is $4.50.
So if you're a lover of bluegrass music or just want to check out an alternative style of country music whose roots are more than 50 years old, stop by the Kingsdale Fire Company grounds, on Route 194 just north of Taneytown.
And be prepared to learn some bluegrass dancing steps.
More information: Dottie and Leroy Eyler, 346-7306.
On Sunday, the members of Bowen Chapel invite you to a concert.
The Strawbridge Ensemble from Strawbridge United Methodist Church in New Windsor will sing spiritual selections beginning at 2 p.m.
The community is invited to attend the event free of charge. Refreshments will be served after the concert.
The Bowen Chapel church is at 4070 Bark Hill Road in Union Bridge. Information: 775-7178.
If you are hungry for crabs, here is an excellent opportunity to feast to your heart's delight.
The Taneytown Kiwanis Club is having its annual Crab Feed next Wednesday, July 20, from 6 p.m. until dark at Taneytown Memorial Park.
Advance tickets cost $17 per person. If you purchase tickets at the event, they will be $18 each. The feast will be held rain or shine.