Henderson: Where the bluegrass jams

Published 11:00 pm Thursday, October 11, 2012

George Boyles takes a lot of ribbin’ from jammers at Rex’s Bluegrass Jamboree but he plays a “mean” fiddle they all agree. The bluegrass jamboree runs from sun-up until the midnight hour today and Saturday. Admission is $5 if you’ve got it. If you ain’t, see Rex.

Rex Locklar’s Bluegrass Jamboree.

Enough said.

Just let Locklar put out his homemade “scribbled” signs and folks will come.

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“Forty-five years,” Locklar thinks.

“I’m so old I can’t remember,” he said, with a shake of his head. “Days like this and it seems like a hundred years.”

Locklar had just “parked” the 52nd camper at his fall Bluegrass Jamboree at Henderson and had no idea where he was going to put the other RVs that will pack Henderson Music Park by noon today.

But everybody who knows Locklar, knows that the grumpiness is just for show. He’s never happier than when it’s bluegrass festival time in Henderson.

“Rex is a sweetheart. Everybody loves him,” said Bill Strickland of Clio. “Rex was a talented musician back in his day. He’s done so much to promote bluegrass music over the years. And, there’s nothing sadder than when the last camper pulls out after a jamboree. Rex will get tears in his eyes and I just about will, too.”

Allen Senn is a “hometown” picker. He grew up in the Springhill area but now lives in Talladega.

“I’ve been coming back to Rex’s festivals for about 30 years,” Senn said. “Rex’s Bluegrass Festival is unlike a lot of festivals. Many of them, you pay to go see the big boys play. And the jam sessions are kind of clannish. It’s not like that out here. It’s like a big family reunion. There are all different levels of musicians but one’s as welcome to come jam as the other.”

Just about as many people come to listen as to jam.

Senn said a lot of people that love bluegrass don’t play and some don’t sing but they love to be a part of the high lonesome sound that’s bluegrass.

“You come out here and pay $5 and you can sit and listen all night long,” he said. “Before the stage fell in, some of the groups would get up there and play. Now, it’s just pickup groups all over the place. Rex has a little stage put up and he’ll come around and ask some of us to take the stage and we will. We just enjoy picking and playing no matter where we do it.”

Rex Locklar’s Bluegrass Festival has been “underway” since Tuesday but it will be in full swing today and Saturday, from early morning until late night.

It’s five dollars to pick. It’s five dollars to play and sing and it’s five dollars to listen.

If you get hungry, there’s concession stand on the grounds or you can bring a sandwich or a chicken leg.

“There’s no place like it,” Strickland said. “There’s a lot of bluegrass being played but there’s no better place to play it than at Rex’s Bluegrass Festival. It’s the most popular bluegrass festival anywhere around because there’s not another like it.”

Rex’ Bluegrass Festival has all of the tradition and lore that is associated with bluegrass music. That’s why, all roads lead to Henderson, Alabama when Rex puts out his hand scribbled signs.