Tickets sold out in 10 minutes for what is quickly becoming Warren County’s most popular attraction.
Taping for Season 5 of the Bluegrass Underground TV series on PBS is this week at Cumberland Caverns with hundreds of visitors preparing to converge on Warren County from around the globe.
“We sold tickets to people in 37 states and six countries,” said Bluegrass Underground creator Todd Mayo. “More than 99 percent of the people attending these shows are not from Warren County.”
Mayo came up with the idea of Bluegrass Underground during a family visit to Cumberland Caverns. It first started as a radio show recorded in the Volcano Room of the cave before turning into an Emmy award-winning TV series that airs in some of the biggest U.S. markets, including New York and Los Angeles.
“More and more people are seeing the TV show and putting this on their bucket list,” said Mayo.
Chamber of Commerce office manager Norma Sterchi Clark estimates the Chamber gets more phone calls about Bluegrass Underground than any other event.
Bluegrass Underground will have more than 20 performances at Cumberland Caverns in 2015, but this is the biggest of them all with 12 bands scheduled to play over three days beginning this Friday.
“Even though we’ve done this four times before there’s still an unknown element,” said Mayo. “We’re still doing a show in a cave with 30,000 pounds of cable that has to be run in and out, and with 12 different bands and all of their people trying to get set up.”
Mayo said he is particularly thrilled to have booked two performers scheduled to play Saturday: Amos Lee and The Quebe Sisters.
“We’ve been wanting to get Amos Lee in the cave for a long time and it’s something that’s finally worked out so we’re excited about that,” said Mayo. “As for The Quebe Sisters, each year we always have a little-known act that steals the show that everyone is talking about at the end. This year I think that’s going to be The Quebe Sisters.”
As for its awards, Bluegrass Underground was the winner of four Midsouth Emmy Awards earlier this year. The Midsouth region covers seven states. Bluegrass Underground won Emmys for Technical Achievement, Lighting, Audio, and Entertainment.
Mayo said he is most pleased with the Technical Achievement Emmy because of the logistics associated with pulling off such high-quality performances 333 feet underground in a cave that’s located in a rural section of Warren County.
Bluegrass Underground Season 5 has been billed as a “subterranean festival of global proportion.”
The show will include 16-time Grammy winner Bela Fleck and his wife and musical partner Abigail Washburn as they bring their acclaimed all-banjo duo to the Volcano Room on Friday.
On Saturday it’s the best in traditional bluegrass, as 13-time Grammy winner Jerry Douglas presents The Earls of Leicester (pronounced “Lester”), his all-star, dead-on tribute to Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys, featuring Shawn Camp, Jeff White, Barry Bales, Charlie Cushman and Johnny Warren, son of Foggy Mountain Boy fiddler Paul Warren.