Lotus and Jim

Jim sporting a Lotus festival shirt and hat.

by Teresa Lynch

During what he describes as his misspent youth, Jim Krause would sometimes catch a “grey dog” up to Bloomington from Louisville.  Often, he was on the grey dog or Greyhound bus, as you might know it, to Bloomington to perform as a musician.  During one of those trips, Jim was waiting for the bus to Bloomington when an older man – seemingly a farmer – approached him and inquired about the mandolin case sitting next to him on the ground.  Jim told the man that he did indeed play and the man asked if Jim would show him.  He readily agreed and pulled out his mandolin, playing a few tunes for the stranger.  The man then asked if he could give it a try – a request to which Jim readily agreed.  The man turned out to be quite talented and the two sat swapping the mandolin between them until the bus arrived.  The man thanked Jim for the opportunity to play and they boarded the bus separately.  It wasn’t until the bus arrived in Bloomington and the man got off the bus to a swarm of photographers and journalists that Jim realized that his impromptu session had been with Lotus Dickey – one of Indiana’s most treasured musicians.

Many people in Bloomington might readily associate “Lotus” with the Lotus World Music and Art Festival that is held each year in town.  What they might not realize is that the festival is named after Lotus Dickey and not the Lotus flower.  Lotus grew up in rural Indiana, south of Bloomington.  From the early 1930’s and on into his late years, Lotus was an avid composer and performer.

Lotus Dickey performing in Indiana in the 1980s. Photo by Nan McEntire and sourced from lotusfest.org.

In the late 1970’s a documentary film crew at IU featured Lotus and jump-started what would become a flourishing music career.  The Lotus Festival pays homage to him as one of the treasured musicians of Southern Indiana.  Jim’s involvement with the Lotus Festival would come much later, but the fond memory of his chance encounter with the folk musician still resonates with him.

Jim originally came to Bloomington to study music composition.  At the time, his primary musical instrument was the viola.  As his studies progressed, he found himself less and less interested in the atonal, arrhythmic music his instructors were coercing him to compose.  He decided to quit composition and instead pursue audio engineering and video production during his undergraduate studies.  He worked for some time with visual and musical artists around Bloomington, in familiar places such as the Bluebird, but eventually left off working with those artists for more steady and secure work with companies such as Hoosier Energy.  He laughed, though, to tell me that now, at a stage in his career that allows more flexibility for creative odd jobs, he is back to working with artists because he enjoys it.  In fact, a primary impetus these days for Jim for performing, running audio, or tech directing is working for good causes, especially in the region.  Which is how he ended up some years ago on the Board of Directors of the Lotus Festival.

Jim first became interested in organizational development when he was on the board of WFHB, a Bloomington community radio station.  After working with WFHB, Jim transferred his volunteer time to focus on the Lotus Festival.  He was a member of the Board of Directors of the Lotus Festival for four years and even served as the chair for one of those years.  This year, however, Jim is only volunteering with the festival as a photographer.  But, that gives Jim an opportunity to experience the Lotus Festival up close and personal.  The festival is set to begin September 20, although some pre-festival events have already started.  And with artists travelling in from St. Lucia, China, Côte d’Ivoire , Finland, and more, there’s bound to be a lot more memory – not to mention community – building going on.

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