Chicago has the blues. Detroit's got Motown, Harlem and jazz go together like Bourbon Street and Dixieland.
Mention Washington and most observers of the national music scene would pair it with one sound - bluegrass. In fact, Washington has more clubs and local bands catering strictly to bluegrass music than anywhere else in the country. And of course, more fans.
Saturday the University of Maryland presents "Bluegrass 77" - billed as the biggest bluegrass concert to ever play Washington. In fact, the two shows at Cole Field House will feature the most treasured names in the history of bluegrass; Bill Monroe and The Blue Grass Boys, Ralph Stanley and The Clinch Mountain Boys, Lester Flatt and The Nashville Grass, Jimmy Martin and The Sunny Mountain Boys, J.D. Crowe and The New South, Jim and Jesse and The Virginia Boys, and Washington's own Seldom Scene and The Country Gentlemen.The two shows, each more than four hours long, will be held at 1 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $8.50 through Ticketron or $9.50 at the door.
Around 1939 a young musician named Bill Monroe combined the elements of church, jazz and mountain music and named the blend after his band, "The Bluegrass Boys." In 1945 a banjo player by the name of Earl Scruggs joined Monroe but left three years later to pair up with a guitar player named Lester Flatt. The musical partnership of Flatt and Scruggs lasted 21 years, and their popular boot-stomping soundtrack for "Bonnie and Clyde" was seen as a musical milestone. Bludgrass had gone commercial.
As the largest city near the Appalachian Mountain region, Washington became a mecca for talented bluegrass musicians - and remains one. Here are a few places to hear "Orange Blossom Special" just one more time.