As we enter the summer festival season recent bluegrass events have put us all in the mood for a great summer. The annual Temecula Bluegrass Festival held every third weekend in March presented Barefoot Movement, Bluegrass Etc., Dan Crary, and a lot more great free bluegrass. The weather was beautiful and Old Town Temecula provided an appropriate ambiance.
The first weekend in April brought us the annual Bluegrass in the Flower Fields event featuring four bands: the Front Porch Music Preservation Society, the Virtual Strangers, Box Canyon, and High Mountain Road, performing on an outdoor stage framed by the stunning fields of blooming ranunculus at the Carlsbad Flower Fields.
The following week, Wednesday through Sunday, featured the Julian Family Fiddle Camp in the pine covered mountains outside Julian. Students of all ages studied Texas and Celtic fiddle with three fiddle champs: Luke Price, current reigning Weiser National Champ; Katie Glasman, former National Champ; and Mari Black, reigning U.S. National Celtic Champ. Students also studied guitar, mandolin, old time banjo, and flatfoot dance. Great evening concerts brought in locals and flatlanders alike to enjoy the talented faculty and their bands.
Mid-April was highlighted by the annual spring bluegrass campout at the beautiful tree-shaded KOA in Chula Vista. Instruments of all kinds, picking, singing, and jamming until the wee hours, a pot luck and lots of great catching up and relaxing characterized the weekend.
Saturday evening of that weekend we were treated to a concert by San Diego native and national flat-picking champ Tyler Grant (now a Colorado resident), accompanied by dobro wizard Michael Witcher with bass player and vocalist Adrian Engfer, performing as a trio at Acoustic Music San Diego (AMSD).
April 25-26 rocked with the annual Adams Avenue Unplugged event featuring 135 acts on 25 stages! Bluegrass and related performances included Tim Flannery and the Lunatic Fringe, Prairie Sky, and the G Burns Jug Band, with lots and lots of other great acoustic music. Also that weekend, was the Coachella Festival, featuring top national acts, including Balsam Range, Chatham County Line, Della Mae, Hot Rize, Lindsey Lou and the Flatbellys. The month closed out with a fun band scramble held at the SDBS 4th Tuesday event.
In case you think you may have missed all the great stuff, take a look at what’s coming! May 1 brings us a gospel concert hosted by John Deckard and his Full Deck Band at the First Baptist Church of Pacific Beach, 4747 Soledad Mountain Road (off Garnet Ave.). The free event starts at 7:30pm, is open to the public, and is expected to present special guests and surprises. Then, June will bring us the Huck Finn Festival, Blue Highway at the Powerhouse in Del Mar, Bluegrass Day at the Fair, Saturday, June 6, from 11am to 8pm, and lots more. Look for details in next month’s issue of the San Diego Troubadour.
Bluegrass Day at the Fair Band Scramble. If you would like to participate in the Bluegrass Day at the Fair Band Scramble it is open to the public, and to all ages and abilities. Here are the rules: Send an email to Jim Henderson at: firstname.lastname@example.org with (1) your first and last name (2) mailing address (3) phone (4) the instrument you play. Entry is free, and all entrants receive a free admission pass to the fair, good for the entrant and one guest entering with them. Register by May 6 and, while they last, also receive a free parking pass to the entertainer’s lot.
Here’s how the scramble works. We draw names randomly to form bands. Then, each band is given approximately 15 minutes to work up two-three songs, which they perform on stage. Judges select winners in the categories of banjo, bass, guitar, fiddle, mandolin, specialty (harmonica, Dobro, etc.), male vocalist, female vocalist, and best youth performer, along with best band. You may enter in these same categories but you must play an instrument – no singers only. Consider joining – it’s great fun and you will meet some of the nicest people in town!