Happy Traum

Woodstock's own folk music legend

A Crazy Bluegrass Festival in Culpepper, Virginia

Sometimes odd bits of ephemera show up from your past, as did this poster from a festival in Culpepper, Virginia in 1973, thanks to Fred Robbins. This event was one for the books. It was billed as a "bluegrass folk festival" and it sure had a lot of everything, including much post-hippie craziness.

Among the memorable highlights for me was watching Doc and Merle Watson playing "Deep River Blues" on a main stage that was floating several yards out on a muddy lake with semi- (and some not-so-semi) nude kids splashing around behind them. That song never had quite the same resonance.

Another indelible moment came when a well-known Cajun fiddler was doing his set on that same stage. Dressed impeccably in a red velvet suit, after playing his encore "Diggy Liggy Lo" to rapturous cheers, he eyed a young girl boogie-dancing in the mud between the floating stage and the shore. As he strode down the ramp with his fiddle in one hand, he reached down and swept the girl over his shoulder with his other hand, mud dripping over his immaculate suit, and proceeded to carry her to parts unknown.

Artie and I, along with our small band, got to hang out with the Earl Scruggs Revue, John Hartford, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, New Grass Revival and lots of other young developers of an alt-bluegrass sensibility. It was great fun, but getting paid was another thing. I can remember going to a small office in a motel-type unit, and after standing on line being given a small handful of cash that was nowhere near what we had expected to earn. Well, great memories don't come cheap.