Bluebell and Bluegrass on a Saturday night


    web Bluebell crowdSTORY – If the Bluebell Cafe and Country Store is the heart of northern Montgomery County then their Saturday night jam sessions must be the soul of bluegrass music in Central Arkansas.
    One of the most overlooked gems in Montgomery County, the weekly musical venue is frequented by musicians from all over Central and Southwest Arkansas.
    Lori Carly, the owner of the Bluebell Cafe, inherited the Saturday night tradition when she bought the store. She explained that musicians have been gathering at the store for 40 years to play music that hearkens back to a time when people slowed down to enjoy the finer things of life.web Bluebell Judy Buck
    The first thing you notice when you pull up in the parking lot on any given Saturday night is that this is a pretty big deal whether we know about it or not.
    The small cafe and country store is full of musicians and people who have gathered to enjoy a good home cooked meal at the store while they enjoy the music.
    One can’t really call it a show. Musicians pull up what chairs they can find and gather in a circle before they begin to play and sing. A mixture of bluegrass, old country and Gospel music can be heard throughout the night.
    As you walk into the cafe you are overcome with music. Musicians sit in a circle in the middle of the room, much like they used to do in old general stores and front porches in days past.
    It is a very informal affair with musicians coming and going as the hours tick off the clock. There were anywhere from 12 to 16 musicians at one time gathered around a pair of microphone stands during the most recent jam session. Laughter erupts as old friends pick on one another between songs. New faces quickly become familiar ones as everyone gets a chance to lead the group with a song.
    Locals sit alongside people pickin’ and grinnin’ from all over. There were people there from Hot Springs, Malvern, Plainview, Onyx. Glenwood, Amity and all points in between.
    Alison Harbour of Malvern stated that most of the people who come found out about the Bluebell jam sessions by word of mouth.
    web bluebell Andrew Gonzalez Alison Harbour“I will go wherever I can to play some bluegrass.” she stated.
    Andrew Gonzalez, who serves as a funeral director in Hot Springs, admitted that he found out about the jam sessions last Summer while officiating a funeral. He decided to try it out and has been a regular ever since.
    The weekly event has been featured on PBS twice. Musicians play whatever they bring with most picking on banjos, guitars and mandolins. Gonzalez could be seen playing a box which also doubled as a seat for him.
    Musicians gather every Saturday at the Bluebell Cafe and Country Store in Story to play. They begin around 5 p.m. and finish at 7 p.m. or so. Everyone is invited to come and play, or just sit and listen. Seating is limited so get there early.
    For more information on the Bluebell Cafe and Country Store check out their website at You can also find them on Facebook at Bluebell 1 web Bluebell 2 web bluebell Dean Prince