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333 Feet Down and 8 Years Old - That's Bluegrass Underground

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Bluegrass Underground 8th AnniversaryBluegrass Underground - 333 feet down and 8 years old this month. They say necessity is the mother of invention, but in our case, it was procrastination. Back in the summer of 2008, Bluegrass Underground was born after our founder Todd Mayo waited too long to rent a pontoon boat for his family's Memorial Day weekend on the Cumberland Plateau. By the time he got there, all the boats were gone, so Plan B was a tour of Cumberland Caverns. When they arrived in the Volcano Room, the lightbulb over Todd's head switched on, surprising his 1-year-old son, Jackson, who was riding his dad's shoulders. "Do you ever have concerts here?" Todd asked the guide. They didn't, but within three months Todd had started Bluegrass Underground.

Today, dozens of live shows and 5 seasons on PBS later, including a nationally televised prime-time special (Season VI premieres in September), Bluegrass Underground has become a destination for music lovers all over the world. And if you were at the Keller Williams show in July, you might have seen Jackson Mayo, now 9, with his Cub Scout troop, earning their cave concert merit badges. Time flies, even underground.

Along the way, we've been covered by NPR, NBC-TV news, Money Magazine and dozens of blogs and internet sites. With all that and lots of word-of-mouth, not surprisingly, BGU has become a very hot ticket. Still, we can only fit 600 or so folks in the Volcano Room, and being a cave, we can't really expand seating. So shows have been selling out really, really fast. Our anniversary concert, the Aug. 20 bluegrass production of the Who's rock opera Tommy, transformed into "A Bluegrass Opry" by the amazing Hillbenders, has been sold out for weeks. And our Oct. 29 double-bill of an afternoon concert by the legendary duo of Del McCoury and David Grisman, followed by an evening with The Grateful Ball, the national tour featuring the Travelin' McCourys and The Jeff Austin Band in tribute to The Grateful Dead, sold out in minutes. That's even faster than usual, but just about everything's been selling out.

So here's a hot tip... for now, you can still get tickets for our Sept. 10 co-headlining show with Chris Henry and The Hardcore Grass and Wood & Wire. BGU seems to have good luck with guys named Chris. Our first official show on Aug. 16, 2008 featured the original lineup of the SteelDrivers, with a then-unknown Chris Stapleton on rhythm guitar and atomic-powered vocals. Chris Henry is an old friend of the show, having played BGU with the great Peter Rowan. I was there, and Chris' incendiary mandolin playing blew everyone away, including Rowan. Given that the two mandolinists most closely associated with Rowan are Bill Monroe and David Grisman, his mandolin bar is set pretty high.

Keeping that mandolin/Peter Rowan theme, Wood & Wire features another mando hotshot, Billy Bright, who with his then-wife Bryn on bass, toured with the Peter Rowan/Tony Rice duo. He's also regularly performed with banjo great Alan Munde, who made the iconic newgrass album Poor Richard's Almanac with a teenaged Sam Bush and later founded Country Gazette with fiddler Byron Berline, no slouch in the mandolin department himself. But Wood & Wire isn't just the Billy Bright show. Equally at home doing progressive or traditional 'grass, the quartet is one of the top roots bands in the hotly competitive music scene of Austin, Texas, So if you love real bluegrass and you've always wanted to see Bluegrass Underground in action, our Sept. 10 show with Chris Henry and Hardcore Grass and Wood & Wire is the perfect gateway drug. And like those folks at the first SteelDrivers show, in a few years you too may be saying, "Oh yeah, I saw them at Bluegrass Underground way back when." That show kicks off our busy and very eclectic fall 2016 season.

Oct. 8, traditional country great John Anderson comes to the VolcanoRoom for a very special intimate acoustic concert. Tickets here!

Oct. 20, it's Flatt Lonesome in their BGU debut, fresh from what looks to be a very successful run at the IBMA Awards. The up-and-coming young band The Way Down Wanderers open the 1 p.m. show. We've just got a handful of tickets left, so while procrastinating might have worked for Todd Mayo back in 2008, it won't work for you for Flatt Lonesome.Get em now.

Oct. 21, a Live From the Underground evening concert with singer-songwriter-raconteur Allen Stone. This one's selling quick, so don't hesitate. King Charles opens the 7 p.m. show. Tickets here.

Oct. 29, Del & Dawg at 1 p.m., The Grateful Ball at 8 p.m. Tickets for both are long gone.

Nov. 12, one of the most acclaimed bands in modern bluegrass, The Grascals, with the Hog Slop String Band opening. Get your dancing shoes and tickets!

Dec. 10, it's a Yo Ho Holiday show with Tom Mason & The Blue Buccaneers, so bring the kids for a cave tour and a concert and have a Blue Buccaneer Christmas at BGU. More holiday shows here.

All shows start at 1 p.m. unless otherwise noted. So plan a trip to. Fall is coming to the Cumberland Plateau, and it just may be the prettiest time of year here. Check out our Bucket List packages. You might even rent a pontoon boat over at Fall Creek Falls. Just be sure to call ahead, We'll see you Underground.

We want your group to experience the cave! Lot's of great group trip options to experience a Bluegrass Underground show 333' underground at Cumberland Caverns. For group info click here! Contact us to ASAP to get your group in the cave.

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