Fincastle 1965 Stories

  September 24, 2015

  Jody Stecher (via Pete Wernick)
Mayne Smith was there. I was there. I came out with Sandy [Rothman], David Cohen
(of Country Joe and the Fish) and one more person whose name I can't recall and
whom I never saw again. We drove 3 days from Berkeley. I don't think Scott Hambly
was there. Annie Johnston was there.. (later aka "Dynamite Annie Johnston). I had
spent the summer of 65 first in the Bahamas, then in Berkeley, then in Mexico, then
in Berkeley again, then attended the festival, then caught a ride to NYC and then
went back to CCNY.

I remember all sortsa things about the festival including a comical exchange with
Jimmy Martin which I might have told you about. I was backstage, walking and carrying
a guitar. There was no one else backstage. A voice spoke to me from the steps leading
up to the stage. It said "your tail's draggin'". "Tail" was about two and a half
octaves higher than the other syllables and it was drawn out in a way that made the
speaker of that sound unmistakable. It could only be Jimmy Martin. I ignored the voice.
It spoke again, louder: your TAIL'S draggin'. I couldn't work out what was meant but
it seemed to be an insult. After all it came from Jimmy Martin in that insinuating,
menacing voice he used on "I'm The Boss Of This Here House". I turned and looked at
him. He smiled and pointed to the guitar strap. It had come loose from the neck end
but remained attached to the endpin and the strap was following me in dirt as I walked.
I laughed and said "thank you". Jimmy nodded, smiled in a friendly way, and in a
perfectly normal voice said "you're welcome".

Everyone these days refers to the festival as "Fincastle" but at the time it was "Roanake".

  September 20, 2015

  "1965" by Buck Peacock

  September 2, 2015

         Fred Bartenstein
Here is Sonny Osborne's testimony on the social-psychological event
that happened during the "Story of Bluegrass" at Fincastle, 1966, when
Bill Monroe and the Osborne Brothers sang "I Hear a Sweet Voice
Calling." The artists and many in the audience cried and time seemed to
stand still. That experience had a profound effect on me and I've never
forgotten it. The Roanoke Times article linked below quotes me saying
that I could detect nothing of this profoundly moving experience in the
audiotape of the event.

         Sonny Osborne
Twas an amazing sight to see, hear about, and have it happen directly
in front of you, while trying to concentrate. The song was definitely
"I Hear A Sweet Voice Calling" and the moment had an effect on Bobby,
Bill, and me as well. James Monroe, Bill's son, was among the band
members, but they were not the only people in the audience who shed
tears. That moment is as clear in my mind as though it happened 15
minutes ago. Sonny O

         Pete Wernick
Wow, that is COOL. Sonny is such a soulful testifier! Thanks for the
transcription, Fred. Sorry to say I didn't record at Fincastle 66
(partly cause I knew lots of other people would, with better equipment).
But it's an indelible memory.
I too remember this about as vividly as anything from when I was 20
years old... mainly the first chorus, which had that time-stands-still
factor in my recollection. I recall the audience making excited
noises while hearing, and especially after hearing that chorus.
(Surprising to hear that an audiotape of the song doesn't show some of
that reaction.) It was a rare moment in all my years of watching
bluegrass greats doing their music, definitely unforgettable. I guess we
responded to the intensity and purity of the sound these three great
singers made, especially coupled with the achingly soulful words they
sang. Pete

         Fred Bartenstein
I went back and listened to the audio of the 1966 "Story" and found that
my version only includes Bill Monroe and the Osborne Brothers' encore of
"I Hear a Sweet Voice Calling" (the taper must have been changing
reels). If someone can find and circulate the audio of the few minutes
prior to that, I'd love to hear them and see whether there is audible
evidence of that moment's impact. After that encore, they sang "When the
Golden Leaves Begin to Fall," after which Bill said, "There'll never be
no more singing' no better than with the Osborne Brothers there." Sonny
said to Carlton Haney only (audible on the tape), "I see what you told
me last week and I have to admit it," then to the audience, "I really
feel that I must say this. Carlton told me last week that it would be
the biggest thrill of our lives when we worked this show today. And I've
worked big shows before, I've worked shows with Bill before. I've worked
shows with just about everybody in Nashville. But I don't think that in
my life I've ever been as touched and as thrilled as I was just a couple
of minutes ago. It gets to you, I'll tell you."

         Phil Zimmerman
"The First Festival" from his book Bluegrass Time


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  Updated September 24, 2015