Hooked on Bluegrass

John McKelvy

I was born and raised in Central Florida near where Tom Petty and the band Lynard Skynard are from … and also in the middle of a thriving bluegrass landscape. I’ve listened to bluegrass and gospel music since I was a kid, growing up in a Southern Baptist family.

My mother’s side of the family is from the hills of Tennessee and once a year we would head to a family reunion somewhere in Florida, Georgia or Tennessee. We would always have a talent show at these reunions and often times groups of us would gather and perform songs. Some of my relatives that still lived in these areas would sing songs that just vibrated with soulful, country harmonies. I recall once, when I was just learning to strum the guitar, singing Cabin on the Hill with my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins to the great delight and applause of the rest of the reunion clan. It felt great!

As I grew older and became more deeply immersed in the guitar, I focused my playing mainly on rock, southern rock, and the blues. At the same time, I began to seek out more bluegrass albums and live shows. Florida and Georgia have a number of festivals and it was easy to find great bluegrass music. Slowly, as time moved on, my taste and hunger for bluegrass grew greater until that was all I wanted to play. Bluegrass was like an old friend whom I longed to be with, a music that could soothe me like no other. And now I’m blessed to play this music for others … a beautiful dream!

(posted 12/17/2005)

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