As we enter February, we can be thankful that we live in San Diego on the West Coast. The weather is generally good, and opportunities for bluegrass events abound. In most of the country there is a bluegrass festival season that extends through the summer and ends in the fall to accommodate the harsh weather of winter. But here, we have the opportunity for outdoor bluegrass events all year. In fact, some of our best bluegrass festivals are winter events, as they can attract top national acts that otherwise might be idle.
Blythe. The Blythe Bluegrass Festival was held last month over the weekend of January 19-22 in Blyth, California, located east of San Diego along the Colorado River. Chilly by our standards, but it is still an outdoor winter festival featuring top talent, lots of jamming, camping, and great times. Many San Diegans attend this popular event every year. You can check it out at www.blythebluegrass.com.
Great 48. The Great 48 Jam session is held in Bakersfield every January. It’s an easy four-five hour drive from San Diego and draws pickers from all over California and the western states. Produced by the California Bluegrass Association, it features concerts, workshops, showcases, vendors, hosted suites, and lots and lots of jamming. You will see many friendly San Diego faces at the Great 48, including representatives from the San Diego Bluegrass Society, the North San Diego County Bluegrass and Folk Club, Summergrass, and their ambassador/suite host Jim and Mary Blakemore. You can check out the Great 48 here: www.cbaweb.org/events/great48.
Wintergrass. One of the largest bluegrass festivals in the country, Wintergrass is held in Bellevue, Washington outside Seattle. This year’s Wintergrass will occur February 23-26. Okay, that’s not an easy drive from San Diego, but it is worth the trip! Take a look at this year’s lineup:
Hot Rize, Balsam Range, Tim O’Brien, The John McEuen Trio, Turtle Island String Quartet, Mike Marshall, Caterina Lichtenberg, Darlingside, the Kruger Brothers, Rob Ickes and Trey Hensley, Mr. Sun, Hot Buttered Rum, Mollie O’Brien, Rich Moore Family Band, Sierra Hull, the Jeremy Kittel Band, Joe Craven, Caitlin Canty, Danny Paisley and the Southern Grass, David Mayfield Parade, Flatt Lonesome, the Talbott Brothers, the Paperboys, Love Canon, Foghorn Stringband, Orville Johnson, Petunia, the Vipers, Molly Tuttle, Ben Hunter, Joe Seamons, Whiskey Deaf, True North, Fern Hill Bluegrass, the Jangles, and Brother’s Keeper.
Now that’s a line up! Check out Wintergrass here: www.wintergrass.com.
Bluegrass on the Beach. Lake Havasu, on the Colorado River east of San Diego, hosts Bluegrass on the Beach. This year’s event will be held over the weekend of March 3-5. This is a great outdoor festival on the shores of Lake Havasu, taking advantage of the beautiful warm weather the desert provides this time of year. At 2017’s event you can see Bluegrass Etc., Wayne Taylor and Appaloosa, the US Navy Bluegrass Band Country Currernt, the Boxcars, Danny Paisley, and more. Check it out here: www.bluegrassonthebeach.com.
Julian Family Fiddle Camp. The Julian Family Fiddle Camp is an instructional experience held at Camp Cedar Glen just outside Julian in the mountains east of San Diego. This year’s dates are April 11-15. The camp features instruction on fiddle, guitar, mandolin, ukulele, banjo, and upright bass. It teaches old time, bluegrass, swing, and Texas-style music. Concerts, open to the public, are held in the evenings. Check it all out here: www.familyfiddlecamp.com.
Temecula Valley Bluegrass Festival. The Temecula Bluegrass Festival is back this year, re-named the Temecula Valley Bluegrass Festival. Under new management, it will be held at the Tucalota Creek Ranch in Temecula’s wine country over the weekend of April 28-30.
That’s a lot of winter bluegrass, all in addition to the regular weekly and monthly events happening here in San Diego. Our great weather and location on the West Coast is just one more reason to be thankful that we live in paradise—we get year-round bluegrass music and festivals!
I haven’t even mentioned the indoor opportunities: Rob Ickes and Trey Hensley at Brick 15 on February 8th (www.brick15.com), the Infamous Stringdusters at the Belly Up Tavern on February 19 (www.bellyup.com), Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn at the Center for the Arts in Escondido on March 15 (arrtcenter.org), and Leftover Salmon at the Belly Up on April 1 (www.bellyup.com).