Bluegrass Corner

Bluegrass Day at the Fair

Saturday, July 5 brings us Bluegrass Day at the Fair at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. Sponsored by the San Diego Bluegrass Society and the North San Diego County Bluegrass and Folk Club, both local non-profits, the event will be underway from 11am to 8pm on the Plaza Stage. Let’s take a look at what you can expect.

The activities will start at 11am with a youth performance of 50-plus youngsters ages 6-16 performing on violins, cellos, and violas under the guidance of their teacher Jane Frey. Expect some great old-time fiddle tunes as part of the performance. What follows will be a brief interlude for a pie eating contest, sponsored by the fair from noon to 1pm. Then at 1pm the action resumes with a performance by the California State Old Time Fiddlers Association, District 7 (San Diego) who will demonstrate the various styles of old-time fiddling.

At 2pm the Band Scramble starts, which is always great fun for participants and spectators. Here’s how it works: musicians of all ages and abilities write their name and the instrument they play on a slip of paper, drop those in a hat, and then names are pulled at random to form bands. Each band is given about 15 minutes to meet and work up two or three tunes, which are then performed on the stage before judges. Awards will be given for the best performer on each instrument, best male and female vocalist, and best youth performer. The fun part is that any given band might find itself with a kid or two, a performing professional, and a few amateurs, or who knows what – it’s all luck of the draw.

After the band scramble, concerts by top bluegrass bands get underway. Here’s the schedule:

4-4:40           Chris Stuart and Janet Beazley
4:50-5:30     The Swept-Winged Chicken Thieves
5:40-6:20     Old Town Road
6:30-7:10     Box Canyon
7:20-8           Gone Tomorrow

July 5 is the last day of the fair, so come on by, enjoy some great bluegrass activities, and stick around for the closing fireworks. The bluegrass action will take place at the Plaza Stage – not the Paddock Stage – as it has been in prior years.

Every August the Summergrass Bluegrass Festival comes to the Antique Gas and Steam Engine Museum in Vista. A production of the San Diego Bluegrass Society and the North San Diego County Bluegrass and Folk Club, Summergrass has become one of the premier festivals on the West Coast, with three days of camping, top bands in concert, workshops, a kids music camp, vendors, and lots to do and see at the Museum, which features a working blacksmith shop, an old school house, and other artifacts from days gone by. And, oh yeah, more belching, puffing, old tractors, and steam engines than you can imagine, many of which are fired up at the festival.

Top national bands appearing this year at Summergrass include Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper, Della Mae, Special Consensus, Bluegrass Etc., John Mailander and Molly Tuttle, and Front Country from the San Francisco Bay area. Rounding out the stage concerts will be top local bands the Virtual Strangers, Prairie Sky, Sweet Tidings Gospel, Sonoran Dogs, Rusty Gait, and the Shirthouse Bluegrass Band.

Beyond the great stage performances, there will be free workshops, jamming sessions (including free sessions on introduction to jamming), a kids music camp culminating in a youth performance on the main stage on Sunday, an adult boot camp where adults can learn bluegrass from the greats, a parade of the antique steam engines, great food, vendors with all kinds of wares, and great camping.

Summergrass has something for everyone to enjoy at this family friendly event. Check it all out and get your tickets at the Summergrass website:

The Huck Finn Jubilee was held in Cucamonga over the Father’s Day weekend in June. This event has been among the top national bluegrass festivals for many years, having won the coveted IBMA Event of the Year Award a few years back. Two years ago, Don Tucker, the founder and man behind the event, passed away.

This year was the first year that the event was put on by the Greater Ontario Convention and Visitors Bureau. They did a great job, and let’s hope there are many more years to come. The weather was beautiful, and the line-up was outstanding. Del McCoury, Sam Bush, the Boxcars, and lots more. Many San Diego bluegrassers made the short one-hour trek and report that they had a great time.

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