Fincastle 1965
The First Multi-Day Bluegrass Festival

Courtesy Ken Landreth ?                                                      Courtesy Phil Zimmerman

Courtesy New Deal String Band

  From Fred Robbins

Note: Although the Osborne Brothers are listed on the poster,
Sonny told me they couldn't make the festival,
and their first festival ever was the next Fincastle (1966).

  In 2004, regarding my 1966 Fincastle photos, Sonny wrote me...
These pictures are just so good, I can't explain to you the memories they bring back.
I remember almost every one of them, and especially love the Don Reno picture, and the
Benny Martin shot is a classic. Benny loved the fiddle so much and this picture shows that.
I don't know if you realize but this was the first festival we played. We couldn't make
the 1965 Fincastle show and I guess this is why these pictures are so important.
These are historic.

  In 2014, Sonny wrote me...
Fred, I know what happened with the mis print of that 1965 poster.
In 1963 we played Luray VA at a fair or carnival in which Carlton Haney
had booked for us. (We were paid $150) After the show we had dinner and
he told us about an idea he had for doing a festival where all Bluegrass
bands would be there. He asked if we thought it would work. I told him
I liked the idea and he could count us in. For several reasons I actually
never dreamed he could pull it off, but if he did we wanted to be part of
the thing. So time passed and no more was said about it and in 1965
Gordon Cash came to work with us. So when Carlton actually got the thing
together he put our name on the poster, along with Gordon Cash, assuming
we would be true to our word, which I would have done but we were contracted
to be in Texas and could not change it. By the time the 66 festival came around,
Dale Sledd had assumed the vacancy left by Mr. Cash.
But we certainly made it in 66.


  From Fred Bartenstein

  Richard Thompson's "Fincastle festival to be remembered at WOB" in Bluegrass Today

  Bill Monroe's contract with Carlton Haney for appearance at the event

  Mary Greenman Green's 1973 Muleskinner News article on the event

  Pages from the program of the 40th anniversary celebration held in Fincastle
         (including Phil Zimmerman's SEBA article reprint)

  26-minute DVD prepared for the 40th anniversary celebration in Fincastle*

  Blue Ridge PBS TV coverage of the 40th anniversary celebration (Password=brex)

  Ron Roach's article on the "Story of Bluegrass" in the Journal of Appalachian Studies

  Ted Lehmann's article on the "50 Years after Fincastle, the Story of Bluegrass"
          Continues" at No Depression

  More Stories

  Ralph Berrier's 8/30/15 Roanoke Times article

* Video Courtesy Historic Fincastle, Inc.
   20 West Main Street, P.O. Box 19, Fincastle, VA 24090
   Telephone: 540-473-3077, E-Mail:

From Tom King

  More Fincastle 1965 Recordings

  Bluegrass Story - Part 1

  Bluegrass Story - Part 2

From Ivor Trueman

  Fincastle 1965 Recordings 1

  Fincastle 1965 Recordings 2

  Fincastle 1965 Recordings 3

Note: some of these recordings may duplicate those of Tom King.
Also the Osborne Brothers' recordings are certainly not from 1965
as per Sonny's explanations above.

From Others

  First Bluegrass Festival Fincastle VA. 1965

  Don Reno Banjo Workshop from Jason Skinner

  Bill Monroe Mandolin Workshop from Dave Houle

     Note from Phil Zimmerman
     You may already know this, but the footnote on Page 10 of Bluegrass Time
     explains why there's so little video of Fincastle '65. It's a miracle that there's any video record
     of it at all, and a real tribute to Carlton's foresight and tenacity that 1) the TV crew was there,
     and 2) that there's audio to go with the original silent footage!



  Al McCanless

  Ron Petronko



      Updated March 10, 2020