Bluegrass Island 2017
We arrived at North Carolina’s Outer Banks late in the afternoon of Day 7 of our 33-day Epic US Road Trip 2017. Mercifully, and with 1,300-plus miles already on the clock, we weren’t planning on going anywhere for a while. At least not for 4 days. Four days of hard-drivin’ foot-tappin’ bluegrass. Four days of mountain music by the sea on Bluegrass Island.
– Reproduced from text on display in the International Bluegrass Music Museum in Owensboro, Kentucky, visited – along with the Old Homeplace in Rosine, Kentucky, the birthplace of the Father of Bluegrass, Bill Monroe – on Day 32 of our 36-day Epic US Road Trip 2016.
North Carolina’s Outer Banks, a narrow and fragile 320-kilometre-long (200 mile) string of barrier islands/sandbars that both separate & shelter the US mainland in the west from the vast & blustery expanse of the Atlantic Ocean in the east, is a major regional tourist draw. This vacation rental haven is a beach lovers nirvana, a well-established tourist magnet where there’s a refreshing dearth of big box stores or chain eateries, a place where sand, sea (and sea breezes), wooden beach houses, laid-back beach towns, historic lighthouses, flip-flops, fishing, sea food and a swashbuckling maritime vibe all dominate. History, too, and heavy-hitting history at that: The disappearance of 115 colonists at Roanoke Island’s late 1580s Lost Colony, Europe’s very first attempt to established a settlement in the New World, is still to this day one of America’s greatest unsolved mysteries; and man first flew here when, in December 1903 at Bodie Island’s Kill Devil Hills, the Age of Flight took off when the Wright Brothers launched the world’s very first successful controlled flight of a powered heavier-than-air vehicle.
As enthralling & educational as the heavy-hitting pioneering & groundbreaking history, the beaches, the lighthouses and the swashbuckling maritime vibe of the Outer Bank were (& they were), even they, and if you’ll pardon the oh-so pathetic pun, played a very distant second fiddle to the 4 days of foot tappin’ & VIP mingling that was our Outer Banks Bluegrass Island Festival experience.
The 4 days of the Bluegrass Island Festival were easily one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Bluegrass isn’t for everyone (I get that), and an all-encompassing 4-day festival of the music might even be balked at by many a bluegrass fan, but for us it was something beyond special, an indescribably amazing experience. We not only witnessed, from both off the stage and on it (we had free reign), some of the best music there is played by some of the most talented musicians alive, but we mingled with the artists, humble & approachable people I’ve admired from afar for over a decade now (Dad much longer), have streamed on YouTube, who I’ve had in my ears while I’ve travelled all over the world and who take up the bulk of the space on my iPod (& I’m even Facebook friends with some of them now… I tried to play it cool, to not appear too star-struck). That, y’all, is indeed beyond special, indescribably so.
A few more pictures from 4 days snooping around the Outer Banks Bluegrass Island Festival 2017 with a camera in hand.