Brentwood Ark., continues to be a gathering place for musicians and music fans
BRENTWOOD, ARK. – Community is an important part of our lives. It is the places we live, the people we interact with and the things that we do.
There are traditions that have been held over in small communities for hundreds of years. Many of these traditions are considered a way of life, such as quilting, square dancing and musical shows. However, most of these traditions are slowly becoming dying art forms and need to be preserved.
Brentwood, Ark., is a small farming community, located 20 miles south of Fayetteville on old Highway 71. According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, Brentwood was first settled in 1878, music and community gatherings have been a common occurrence in this small township since its foundation. The local families who have lived in the community since the 1800s recount stories of all-night musical gatherings that occurred in this area before the building was even built. It was common for the gatherings to occur on Saturday nights because the farmers in the area had worked hard all week and they wanted to fellowship with their neighbors and kinfolk and forget their cares for a little while. The weekly events lasted until the late 1940s when many people moved out of the area seeking employment in the large factories of the north. The migration north took its toll on many small communities, buildings fell into a state of disrepair and many traditions passed away. The Brentwood Community Building was one of those that suffered, the building was abandoned and was not used again until 1978.
Today, as it was in the past, local musicians, their families and friends come out to play instruments, listen to music and socialize. Many people have been coming to Brentwood since it reopened in 1978, including local community members who were children in the 1940s and used to attend the shows with their parents each Saturday night.
Brentwood Community Building is the host of the Brentwood Bluegrass Music Show and Jam which occurs every first and third Saturday night from November through April.
Over the years, there have been several generations of bluegrass musicians that have passed through the doors of this little community building. These musicians entertain the regulars and visitors with a unique style of music and kinship through stage shows and jamming. It is not uncommon for someone to learn how to play an instrument at Brentwood because the local musicians are very diligent in helping to preserve traditional music and the idea of “paying it forward “which is a bluegrass musicians’ way of protecting the art form. Preservation has been on the minds of bluegrass musicians for years. It is a very real possibility that this musical art form could fall along the wayside. People no longer live the kind of lives that were lived when this music first began. The economy is no longer so poor that people must leave their families, and travel in droves to other parts of the country to work. Many children do not relate to what it is like to live in destitution and poverty like the children pre- and post-depression era did. People no longer work all day in the field plowing corn, picking cot-ton, or growing gardens to feed their families and animals during the winter. People are far removed from the woes and dangers of everyday life which most bluegrass songs were written about. People no longer sit on the front porch at night and play music with their families be-cause there is no other form of entertainment. Bill Monroe, the father of bluegrass music, would be proud of the legacy he left but he would also be concerned as to where it is going. Today songwriters could write folk songs in the tradition of the millennial mind set and instead of Bill Monroe’s classic songs “Letter from My Darling” or “You Don’t Know My Mind,” they might write “Snapchat From my Darling” or “You Don’t know my Password.”
Bluegrass music is steeped in tradition and becoming part of the blue-grass family is doable for anyone who is willing to step into the circle. It is home, a place where anyone is welcome, and it is preserved in a lit-tle building, in a small town in the hills of Arkansas where on Saturday nights you can hear the high lonesome sound of fiddles and banjos and the wind calling you home.
Brentwood is a place where musicians and want to be musicians can learn from each other. Everyone is family and if you are ever in the ar-ea, you will be welcomed with open arms. The first show of the 2023 Season will be at 7 p.m. on Nov. 4.
There are concessions available and a guarantee of a fun time.
Brentwood is located at 16945 S. Hwy 71 in Winslow, Ark. There is a $5 charge of admission.
For more information, contact [email protected] , or visit the Facebook page at Brentwood Bluegrass Show & Jam Arkansas.
There are openings for bands for the 2023 season available.