The demise of the Southland Jamboree turned out to be just a near-death experience, as the bluegrass music concert series returns Monday night.
"We're thrilled that we're back on schedule, looking forward to an abbreviated season, and hopefully keep it going next year," host and emcee Billy Sherrow said, Friday morning.
In May, just a few weeks before the event's annual late spring launch, Sherrow announced the series was canceled due to a lack of funding. The next week, Jamboree volunteer Beth R. Tibbitts launched a GoFundMe campaign to save the event. As of Friday morning, the campaign had raised $6,645 of its $8,000 goal, which Sherrow said is enough to move ahead.
"The Jamboree fund had a little money left in it from previous seasons — somewhere between $1,000 and $2,000," Sherrow said. "Once we made the announcement that we were going to have an abbreviated season, some of the old, regular sponsors have jumped back on board. ... Right now, we have more than enough to complete this season.
"So what we're going to do is push fund raising hard from the stage, and I've got the microphone, so I can do that. Once people realize cancellation is a possibility, and in fact did happen, they're a little more aware of the need for money."
Sherrow noted that people can still contribute to the GoFundMe campaign.
The Southland Jamboree started as a weekly concert in a grassy field next to Collins Bowling Center on Southland Drive under the auspices of the Southland Association, a neighborhood development group. A mix of national, regional and local bluegrass acts played on a stage built from donated wood and fans brought lawn chairs and blankets to listen.
In 2015, the series was forced to move, due to construction at the bowling center. Failing to find a home in the Southland Drive area, the event moved out the MoonDance at Midnight Pass Amphitheatre in the Beaumont neighborhood, which is where it continues this summer and will likely remain.
"We searched far and wide in this part of the city, trying to find a suitable location," Sherrow said.
Parking was one of the main issues. Even at the bowling alley, Sherrow said they had to pay an attendant to keep Jamboree fans from taking up parking spaces for bowlers.
Sherrow said that MoonDance has been a great location and working with Lexington Parks and Recreation, which manages the facility, has gone very well. But he admits something was lost in the move.
"That space beside the bowling alley had, for lack of a better term, an atmosphere or ambiance that you just didn't find anywhere else," Sherrow said. "So it's lost a little of that. But as far as the facility, it's a great place to play."
Since the Jamboree probably won't be returning to Southland, Sherrow said he and fellow organizers are going to endeavor to create a separate, non-profit entity and run it as a totally separate organization from the Southland Association.
"We'll have a year to raise money and hopefully keep it going," Sherrow said.
And wherever it is, Sherrow said it is important to keep the Jamboree going as a regular outpost for bluegrass music in Lexington.
"We are the Bluegrass State. We are in the heart of the Bluegrass," Sherrow said. "So it's only fitting that there be some bluegrass music. ... This kind of became the local spot for bluegrass music."
Now that the series is back, Sherrow and fellow organizers can go back to worrying about the weather. As of Friday morning, the forecast for Monday is highs in the upper 80s with scattered showers and thunderstorms.
IF YOU GO
The Southland Jamboree
What: Weekly summer bluegrass concert series.
When: 7 p.m. Mondays
Where: Moondance at Midnight Pass Amphitheatre, 1152 Monarch St.
July 2: Blue Eagle Band
July 9: Cane Run Bluegrass
July 16: Custom Made Bluegrass
July 23: Uptown Blue
July 30: Southland Drive
Aug. 6: McLain Family Band
Aug. 13: Michael Cleveland and Brian Allen
Aug. 20: NewTown
Aug. 27: The Local Honeys