Live from the Underground – Bluegrass Underground

333 feet below ground stands the Volcano Room at the Cumberland Caverns near McMinnville, Tennessee.  This U.S. National Natural Landmark plays a unique role in the area’s cultural musical tradition and I had the pleasure of being tapped as house photographer for Bluegrass Underground, the Emmy Award-winning PBS series filmed there, for the second year in a row.

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Widespread Panic Performs in the Volcano Room

I thought I had done everything I could do in music photography until the lessons learned on my first cave adventure.  For starters, I had to acclimate my equipment before use as cave temperature is 58 degrees with 98% humidity and a camera needs at least two hours of adjustment before it can capture accurately and without damage.  That experience allowed this year be a bit more comfortable and I could run around taking pictures like my normal self.

Jason Isbell emergingJason Isbell and the 400 Unit Taking Stage

The Bluegrass Underground series, scheduled to air on the Fall of 2014, invites legends like Lucinda Williams and David Grisman and relative newcomers  such as Shovels and Rope to light up the cave just outside of Nashville.  Widespread Panic was there off their Wood Tour to play an acoustic set and Keller Williams with the Travelin’ McCourys came to showcase their collaboration, Pick, among many others.

Dave Eggar and the HammerstepDave Eggar with Deoro and Hammerstep

Everyone’s performances make for great surreal cave imagery.  The experience truly inspired me and I’m really honored to be brought into a community of such great people who evoke an atmosphere of family.

Ronnie McCoury Volcano RoomRonnie McCoury Entering the Volcano Room

Thanks to Bluegrass Underground and everyone involved who make this remarkable place that much more special.  Check out the full photo gallery on the Bluegrass Underground Facebook Page and tune into PBS this Fall to see it all.