"Bluegrass Underground" starts filming - Reverb

“Bluegrass Underground” starts filming cave concerts this month

Imagine this: you’re wandering around the outskirts of small town Tennessee one winter night and you feel a tremor beneath you. It’s faint at first—just a slight shake. But as you hone in on it, you feel it again, a little more this time, and again. There’s a rhythm to it—almost 4/4—and some volume, too. Then: hollering, a muffled PA system and the soft squeal of what sounds like a fiddle.

It may sound like fiction. But for a few nights out of the year, that fairytale becomes reality in the Cumberland Caverns of McMinneville, Tenn., as this geologic wonder becomes music venue once again this March.

And if you can’t make it down to McMinneville to see one of the cave shows in the flesh, PBS has you covered. For the last two years, their “Bluegrass Underground” series has broadcast the most exceptional performances the caverns have to offer, including sets by the Civil Wars, bluegrass legend Del McCoury and famed dobroist Jerry Douglas.

The 2013 lineup for Bluegrass Underground is full of top-notch musicians—bluegrass and otherwise. Look for musical curio-meister Andrew Bird, famed session musician/songwriter Leon Russell, Old Crowe Medicine Show, the Infamous Stringdusters and the ever-popular Yonder Mountain String Band to take the stage when the series films its third season in mid-March.

The magic happens in the Caverns’ Volcano Room, a natural amphitheater located several hundred feet below the surface of McMinneville. Audiences are ferried by staff members down to the performance area, which, in a move sure to make your typical “leave no trace”-minded caving enthusiasts shudder, is fully outfitted with concessions and port-a-potties.

But once the show starts, you’ll likely forget about all that. Aside from the breathtaking visual aesthetics, the room is a sonic wonder. According to PBS.com:  “…the room only resonates at 2 frequencies meaning that experiencing live music there is akin to attending a concert inside a recording studio.”

Mileage on your living room speakers may vary, of course. But in lieu of being in the Caverns on show night, PBS’s “Bluegrass Underground” is the next best thing.

For more information on the Bluegrass Underground, check out the venue’s official site here.

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Bluegrass blogger Dylan Owens is a new contributor to Reverb.

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