Boto Arrives With A Bang!

By Bob Mitchell

The halls were alive with the sound of music and my heart was glad. It was wonderful beyond description to return to the Galt House and find a sea of smiling faces enjoying the spirited sounds of banjos, fiddles, and mandolins filling the air with a joyful noise that can only come from a stringed acoustic instrument.

When the prestigious International Bluegrass Music Association moved it's Trade Show and Fan Fest to Nashville, Mike Bucayu, stepped up to the plate and began to plan another event that would keep Bluegrass in Louisville. On March 24 and 25, over two thousand fans came out up to demonstrate their appreciation for his efforts and their love for a unique form of music that was born in right here in Kentucky.

There were too many highlights to cover but some highlights include a powerhouse opening from Cherryholmes, the reigning IBMA Entertainer of the Year. If our local utility company could harness this band's energy, there would be enough power to supply the city for an entire year. They received a standing ovation before their set ended and three more after the set ended. Then, Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver provided some of the finest harmony that can be heard today. It was easy to understand how they were named the IBMA Vocal Group of the Year. The first night concluded with a very solid performance from the legendary JD Crowe and New South. It just doesn't get any better.

Saturday began with an energetic segment designed to showcase younger artists. The morning ended with a lively show from Sassafras. (Their latest project, "Ear*Resistable" was reviewed in the November 2005 Issue of Louisville Music News.)

Festivalgoers were also treated to outstanding performances from Dale Ann Bradley, Michael Cleveland, Audie Blaylock and Mountain Heart. One of the most moving moments was Bradley's encore. She asked the entire audience to join her in singing "Amazing Grace." Cleveland and Mountain Heart provided high-octane performances that garnered several encores.

Everyone was in a good mood and considerate of other participants. The most considerate moment came as I was speaking with Clay D. Jones (Mountain Heart) in the artist's ready room. A policeman passed through security areas with a young fan (about 14 years old) who wanted to shake Clay's hand. Clay was polite and interested in the boy's conversation. When the fan said something about a broken string, Clay reached in his guitar case and gave the boy a set of new strings. That's a typical response within the bluegrass community. It's people caring about other people and enjoying the authentic sounds of down home music. The cutest moment involved a small, beautiful girl (about 3 years old) who had a mini sized fiddle. She smiled, did a few dance steps and drew the bow across the strings. Her t-shirt contained these words, " Will pick for cookies and Milk." Another special moment was the recognition award ceremony honoring Berk Bryant for his life long contributions to Bluegrass, Old Time, and traditional country music.

After BOTO officially ended, jam sessions still filled several hallways and lobby areas. As I left the hotel I could hear a group putting their hearts and souls into a high and lonesome arrangement of "Nine Pound Hammer." By the time I reached the parking garage the sounds had faded into a wonderful memory. I can't wait for BOTO 2007. Hope to see you there.

For information about future events check out www.botofest.com or write to PO Box 860, Pee Wee Valley, KY 4005.