August was all about Summergrass. Held over the weekend of the 16-18th, the 11th annual Summergrass Festival was a smashing success. The weather was perfect, the stage shows outstanding, the workshops productive, and the Kids Camp a big hit. There was enough jamming in the campground to make one’s fingers bleed, great vendors of musical and other products, and upgraded food.
Sierra Hull, the young mandolin superstar, put on truly remarkable shows, complemented by the outstanding fiddling of young fiddler Christian Ward who, by the way, is a graduate of the Summergrass Kids Camp program. If anyone is headed to be the next Alison Krauss, it may well be this talented young woman.
Also impressive were New Found Road featuring the butter-smooth voice of Tim Shelton, Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen with their hard driving sound featuring Mike Munford who may well be the best banjo player on the planet, Flatt Lonesome back for a return visit, and perennial favorites Bluegrass Etc. Complement this with great performances from local bands, and this was one fine festival! Thanks to Dennis Andersen for the great photos!
September is packed with bluegrass. Whew – it never stops! Labor Day weekend brings the Mammoth Bluegrass Festival to the Mammoth Mountain Ski resort, featuring Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder, Peter Rowan, and more (including local band Gone Tomorrow). For tickets and info: www.mammothbluegrassfestival.org. Two weeks later we have a packed agenda: Friday the 13th brings Flat Pick guitar champion and San Diego native Tyler Grant to AMSD concerts for a show with mandolin player Jordan Ramsey and bass player Adrian Engfer. For tickets and info: http://amsdconcerts.com/September.html
Saturday the 14th presents the Santee Bluegrass Festival, featuring Box Canyon and the Taildraggers, with all the food and wine you can handle! Tickets and info: https://www.facebook.com/santeebluegrassfestival. Sunday, the 15th, finishes the weekend with Laguna Beach Live presenting its Bluegrass and BBQ event featuring local band Prairie Sky. Tickets and info: https://www.facebook.com/santeebluegrassfestival.
Closings. Huck Finn. We note with sadness that the venerable Huck Finn Bluegrass Festival is no more. This year was its last year. For decades this was the premier bluegrass festival on the Southern California coast, presented at Mojave Narrows Regional Park in Victorville over Father’s Day weekend. We saw all the top names in bluegrass and many from the country world from Merle Haggard on down at Huck Finn. Don Tucker was the festival founder and the driving force behind its success, but Don passed away about a year ago. His widow, Barbara, and his kids gave it a go this year, trying a new location at Rancho Cucamonga Regional Park but have now called it quits, at least as far as bluegrass goes. We thank the Tucker family for the many years of great bluegrass they brought to our region!
Buffalo Bros South. Also of note, New Expression Music Store, recently renamed Buffalo Bros South, has closed its retail store. New owner James Hood reports that the retail operation at the south store is closed, but the teaching school and meeting rooms are still active. The retail portion has consolidated with the Carlsbad mother store. This closing completes a long and storied history, starting with New Expression in Lemon Grove back in the 1970s, the move of the store to North Park, its renaming as House of Strings, then its relocation to University Ave, and its final move to its current location on 30th street. It’s had a great run, and perhaps will reopen some day?