Musical Memorial: Rex Locklar Memorial Jamboree set for April 9-11
Published 4:00 am Tuesday, March 31, 2015
When Rex Locklar died a year ago, some predicted the end of the bluegrass festivals at Henderson. For 44 years, Locklar had hosted bluegrass festivals in April and October at the Henderson Music Park.
“We came because of Ol’ Rex then and he’s the reason we’ll keep coming,” said James Austin of Pelham, Georgia. “This place will be a memorial to him and to the music he loved.”
Ole Rex’s Memorial Bluegrass Jamboree is set for April 9, 10 and 11 at the Henderson Music Park. A special event of the Jamboree will be the naming of the highway from Springhill to Glenwood, the Rex Locklar Memorial Bluegrass Highway. The dedication service will be held at noon on Friday, April 10 at the site of the Springhill memorial sign.
Wiley Locklar said the Pike County Commissioners voted to name the highway in memory of his brother at the request of many friends of Ol’ Rex and lovers of the bluegrass music, which has become synonymous with rural Henderson, Alabama.
“Rex would be honored and appreciative but very humbled and in his own way, he would be proud,” Locklar said.
Until time and the elements took their toll on the old Henderson Schoolhouse, Rex Locklar staged his festival inside the historic community building as well as out under the trees and on the grounds. But, in recent years, the building was no longer safe and stood as a crumbling backdrop for the festivals.
The roof of the building was caving in and some of the walls were collapsing. A group of longtime friends of Rex Locklar’s decided there was too much history in that old building and too much love for their friend and bluegrass music to let it end.
So, they began the task of giving the old schoolhouse new life but with the same purpose — keeping memories and bluegrass alive.
“It’s going to take a lot of hard work and a long time to do what we want to do but we’re not in this for the short term,” Austin said. “We’re in for the long term.”
Austin is among a group of friends who are working to get the schoolhouse grounds ready for next week’s bluegrass jamboree. That’s the immediate plan but the renovation and repairs to the building are next on the drawing board.
“The kitchen area of the building is still in pretty good shape but there’s just no way the building could be completely restored,” Austin said. “So, except for the kitchen area, we’re taking it down a little at a time and it’s going to take a long time. We are committed to doing this.
But, what we’ve found is that a lot of the lumber can be salvaged. So the plans are to use that lumber to build a pavilion and we’ve got enough tin to do the roof so things are working out.”
There will be an admission charge to park RVs at Ole Rex’s Memorial Bluegrass Jamboree as a way to cover electrical charges. Admissions are simply a donation. All donations will be used toward the renovation of the Henderson Music Park.
Donations may be made to the park restoration at Henderson Restoration Project, 550 Burum Street SW, Pelham, Ga. 33719.