Bluegrass music, and the bluegrass community, are family-friendly. Youngsters and families are welcome at nearly all events, and most bluegrass activities do not involve late nights or alcohol-driven experiences. Rather, the focus is on jamming, networking, listening to great music, and joining in on the fun. Concerts typically start at decent hours, like 7 pm or 7:30 pm, as opposed to a typical rock event starting in a club at 10pm or later.
Bluegrass concerts are typically in restaurants, pizza parlors, churches, schools, or other venues that welcome young folks under 18. This is true not just for jamming and open mics, but also for bluegrass festivals where youngsters are encouraged to join in. Let’s take a quick look at some of the opportunities to get your kids, grandkids, or the whole family involved in bluegrass activities that all will enjoy.
Jam Sessions. There are bluegrass jam sessions every Tuesday night in San Diego from 6:30-9pm. The first Tuesday of the month jam session is sponsored by the North San Diego County Bluegrass and Folk Club and is held at the Round Table Pizza in Escondido. Second and fourth Tuesdays are sponsored by the San Diego Bluegrass Society, and the third Tuesday presents an instructed slow jam for all ages sponsored by the San Diego Bluegrass Society. All feature lots of jamming and open mics, and on the first and fourth Tuesdays, a featured band in concert.
The SDBS also sponsors Emma’s Gut Bucket Band, which meets every Wednesday evening from 6-9:30 pm at the Whitman Elementary School in Clairemont. The group holds an open jam session, with all welcome, including kids. Details about all the above sessions can be obtained from the North County Bluegrass And Folk Club web site (www.northcountybluegrass.org) and from the SDBS website (www.sandiegobluegrass.org).
There is also a jam session every Thursday evening from 6:30-9pm led by banjo player Jason Weiss held at Today’s Pizza in Encinitas on Santa Fe just off the I-5 Freeway. And, a bluegrass jam session is held every Saturday afternoon at the Antique Gas and Steam Engine Museum in Vista. All are free (some encourage donations), all are open to the public, and all welcome youngsters.
Summergrass. The annual Summergrass Festival held over the third weekend in August at the Antique Gas and Steam Engine Museum offers a number of activities for families and young folks. There are workshops on the instruments, jam sessions, demonstrations, introduction to jamming sessions, a Kids Music Camp, hot young bands on stage, and lots more. In some years there is also an Adult Boot Camp for parents and grandparents or other adults who want to get directly involved in learning to jam and play the instruments. Visit www.summergrass.org for details.
Fiddle Camp. Every April the Julian Family Fiddle Camp is held at Camp Cedar Glen near Julian. The camp presents a multi-day experience for all ages, beginner to professional, along with top-notch teaching, evening concerts, and other fun activities. Instruments covered include: fiddle, old time banjo, upright bass, and guitar. Visit www.familyfiddlecamp.com for information.
Bluegrass Movie with live concert. If you are like me, you love bluegrass and you love the movies, wishing there were more chances to enjoy the two together. The good news is that a new movie titled Herschel Sizemore: Mandolin in B, a documentary film about the bluegrass legend will have its premiere on Saturday, May 18 at the Carlsbad Village Theatre located at 2822 State Street in Carlsbad.
There will be a live concert by bluegrass band Gone Tomorrow at 8pm with the film to follow at 9pm. Call (760) 720-2460 for tickets and information. Note: SDBS members can purchase discount tickets for $12.50 at any SDBS event or at the door. Regular admission is $18 at the door $15 in advance. This concert and the film are, of course, very kid and family friendly!
So, get on out there with your family, with your kids or your grandkids, and enjoy some of this authentic American music in one of these family friendly settings. You won’t regret it, and you just might get that youngster off the video games for a bit!