July and August will bring some great bluegrass to San Diego. First and foremost, the 10th annual Summergrass Bluegrass Festival comes to Vista over the weekend of August 17-19. The Troubadour will help celebrate this 10th anniversary with a cover story about the event. And, check the Summergrass website (www.summergrass.net) to see the music lineup, to learn about all the Summergrass activities, and to buy your tickets. Headliners this year are the Lonesome River Band and Blue Highway, two of the top bands in the business.
There are also some great learning opportunities for those who want to learn, or hone, their bluegrass chops. Look for a workshop and concert by mandolin maestro Mike Compton at New Expression Music on July 3, and consider the new slow jam to be held by acclaimed performer and teacher Chris Stuart in Poway on Sunday July 14th. Visit Mr. Stuart’s website – http://www.powayfolkcircle.org/events – for details. Look also for a bluegrass fiddle workshop taught by fiddle standout John Mailander on August 4th. Visit New Expression Music at www.sdoldtimemusic.com for details on the Compton and Mailander events.
Summergrass Adult Boot Camp
Enlist in Boot Camp today! It just doesn’t get any better than this, folks! Take advantage of learning from these world-class musicians as they teach Boot Camp. Visit http://summergrass.org/boot-camp.htm to learn more and to sign up:
Jack Tuttle has taught bluegrass music for the past 30 years at Gryphon Stringed Instruments, while also performing professionally. Jack was inspired to learn bluegrass by his father, Gerald Tuttle, who formed the original Tuttle Family Band many decades ago. Jack Tuttle received the Best Fiddler award at the Northern California Bluegrass Society awards
Shawn Lane cut his musical teeth in the bands of Ricky Skaggs (who expressed a special regard for his tenor singing) and Doyle Lawson, before joining Blue Highway as a founding member. A brilliant musician on mandolin, fiddle, and guitar, he is also a world-class songwriter. Shawn’s songwriting is strongly represented in the Blue Highway repertoire.
Wayne Taylor is a gifted songwriter, vocalist, and rock-solid bassist. His Southwest Virginia pedigree adds soul to his singing and authenticity to his songwriting. A founding member of Blue Highway, Wayne’s lead vocals are a signature element of the band’s signature sound.
Rob Ickes, a Northern California native, joined Blue Highway as a founding member in 1994. He is recognized as one of the most innovative Dobro players on the scene, greatly expanding the boundaries of the instrument’s sonic and stylistic territory. He won The International Bluegrass Music Association’s Dobro Player of the Year award for a record-setting thirteenth time in 2011, which is the most awarded instrumentalist in IBMA awards history.
Jason Burleson, the original banjo player with Blue Highway, is a native of Newland, North Carolina, part of that fine crop of North Carolina banjo players. A talented multi-instrumentalist, he brings all-around musicianship to the group, not the least of which is his distinctive, rock-solid banjo style. There must be something about that part of the country – so many fine banjo players seem to come out of those hills.”
Tim Stafford’s distinctive guitar style, vocals, songwriting and arranging are an integral part of the Blue Highway sound. Early on, Tim was a key player in Alison Krauss & Union Station when it was named IBMA Entertainer of the Year in 1991. Tim won a Grammy in 1993 for his work on AKUS’s Every Time You Say Goodbye, which was also named IBMA Album of the Year.
Phil Boroff specializes in rhythm guitar “Clarence White Style.” Phil is a local San Diegan, guitar expert, and multi-talented performer and teacher of classical, Flamenco, bluegrass, folk, and old time guitar styles.
Quality Instruction for Youngsters. If you are a kid, or know a kid, perhaps the Summergrass Kids Camp is for you? The
Summergrass Bluegrass Camp for Kids will take place during the festival on August 17-19. The faculty for Kids Camp are the members of the hot young band Flatt Lonesome from Florida. The camp concludes on Sunday with a 30-minute main stage finale performance where the Camp kids are the stars!
All kids ages 6-16 are welcome! Pre-registration is required and closes July 28. Tuition is $60, which includes instructional materials and admission for the entire festival. Scholarships are available for kids who need them. For more information and details, go to www.summergrass.net, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call Gerry at 310-261-5798.
Sad Partings. The bluegrass world has lost three of its pioneers in the last few months. First, banjo legend and icon Earl Scruggs passed away. Earl was a key part of the “gold standard” bluegrass band of the 1940s’ Bill Monroe and his Bluegrass Boys. He went on to co-found the other most influential bluegrass band of all time – Flatt and Scruggs with legend Lester Flatt (who was also part of the Bill Monroe Band). Mr. Scruggs invented the three-finger “Scruggs style” of banjo play that revolutionized the instrument and the sound of bluegrass music forever. He will be missed, but never forgotten.
Doug Dillard (see story this month) and Doc Watson also departed us over the last few months. Doug Dillard was a driving force in the 1960s and ’70s, performing on the “Andy Griffith Show” as part of the Darlings in his band The Dillards,” who penned bluegrass standards like “The Old Home Place” and “Dooley.” Doc Watson followed these other two greats to the great jam session in the sky. What a great band they have up there now!
Doc Watson is, arguably, the most influential flat-pick guitar stylist of all time. Along with Dan Crary and Clarence White, he was one of the first to play intricate leads for fiddle tunes on the guitar. But, more than that, and even more than these other greats, Doc Watson was the consummate musician and performer. He could sing an old time tune and make you feel you were sitting with him on the back porch. He was a key player on the seminal late ’60s Will the Circle Be Unbroken record, and he has won virtually every award you can think of. Doc will be sorely missed, but he has left a legacy of music that will never fade.