Four Decades of Bluegrass Picnics

In 1972, a couple of unknown reporters broke the political news story of the century about a break-in at a hotel known as Watergate, “M*A*S*H” and “The Waltons” premiered on TV  and a little picnic with bluegrass music in Syracuse, NY began.

Image634798680836922862. . . Mr. Bill Knowlton celebrated his 40th year hosting the Bluegrass Ramble Picnic  Sunday. Held on the lake at Little York, the picnic is an eagerly anticipated event in Central New York State. 

This year’s lineup included  Larry Hoyt & the Good Acoustics, The Atkinson Family, Gene Clayton &  Friends, Lake Effect, Dyer Switch,  Jim and Sue Kelly (who played at the first event in '73)  The Gospel Way, Bluegrass Ramble radio show regulars Diamond Sunday, The Salmon River Boys ( who have appeared at all 40 picnics), The Salt Potatoes and  The Lost Boys with Kathy Wenthen and award winning song writer John Cadley.

Closing the days festivities were the picnics traditional host band The Delaney Brothers.

Prior commitments kept me from the 10a.m. opening, but I can attest to the quality of the music from 2 p.m. till the party ended at 7. There is a lot of talent in this neck of the woods. Contrary to what my friends down south continue to believe, once you get north of Westchester County, NY is mostly farmland and mountains. Rural as rural gets and a Bluegrass breeding ground.

Mr. Knowlton has been a tireless promoter of Bluegrass music ever since his days at Fordham University where he hosted the first all-bluegrass radio show in New York City at WFUV-FM.

He began his career at WCNY radio in 1973. His Bluegrass Ramble radio show airs Sundays from 9 p.m. till midnight on WCNY-FM, Syracuse, Utica and Watertown, NY. 

On Sept. 29, 2011 he was honored by The International Bluegrass Music Association at their annual awards ceremony, in Nashville's historic Ryman Auditorium, where he received the Distinguished Achievement Award. Since 1986, the IBMA has presented this award to people who are pioneers in their field and have spent their careers promoting Bluegrass music. 

He was IBMA broadcaster of the year in 1997, and was inducted into the Syracuse Area Music Awards Hall of Fame in 2006. He has hosted hundreds of Bluegrass festivals throughout the Northeast. In the 1980's Mr. Knowlton produced and hosted 52 "Bluegrass Ramble" television shows for the Eastern Educational Television Network. The 30 minute shows were broadcast nationwide.

Co-founder of the Central New York Bluegrass Association Mr. Knowlton is a multi-award winning dee-jay, emcee, writer, historian and educator of all things Bluegrass. He is a Central New York treasure. 

Congratulations on your 40th Bill. It was another success. 

And thanks for your extraordinary efforts over all those years helping keep the music alive.

Reposted from Daniel T. on NoDepression.com by permission

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