Bluegrass Corner

Julian Family Fiddle Camp and Front Country

There are so many great ways to enjoy and participate in bluegrass music in San Diego that we are truly blessed. These opportunities include everything from great festivals (Summergrass), to slow jams, to Tuesday bluegrass nights, to special concerts, workshops, campouts and more. One way to participate is to take lessons by attending a music camp.

Every April the Julian Family Fiddle Camp takes place at Camp Cedar Glen in the mountains outside the quaint mountain town of Julian east of San Diego. This year’s camp runs from Wednesday April 11 through Sunday April 15. The Camp features bluegrass, old time, Texas style, and Celtic music. There is instruction on all the key instruments with outstanding teachers:

Tashina Clarridge, Celtic style fiddle
Henry Barnes, Appalachian old-time style fiddle
Jesse Maw, ear training, jazz, and music theory on the fiddle
Mathew Hartz, Texas style fiddle and backup guitar
Luke Price, Texas style fiddle and backup guitar
Jennifer Albrent, beginner-intermediate fiddle
Corrie Bunnel, beginner-intermediate fiddle
Jordan Ramsey, intermediate-advanced mandolin
Nina Weisman, beginner-intermediate mandolin
John Herrmann, Appalachian style old time banjo
Ben Krakauer, bluegrass banjo
Tristan Clarridge, intermediate-advanced cello
Simon Crissman, upright bass
Tyler Grant, advanced flatpick guitar
Esther Haynes, rhythm guitar and vocals

If you are looking for a great time in a beautiful location, and for a chance to hone your chops with great teachers, consider attending this year. Visit to learn more. Oh, and there are great concerts in the evenings as well. I’ll write more about those as the Camp dates approach.

Front Country is coming to San Diego this month.

A great band out of the Bay Area is coming to AMSD Concerts this month and they are not to be missed.

Front Country is an acoustic band born in the Bay Area’s land of tech innovation. The group cut its teeth in progressive bluegrass jams in San Francisco’s Mission District and while rehearsing across the bay in Oakland. Front Country fashioned its own take on roots music and bluegrass with a group that features a mandolinist with a degree in composition and classical guitar, a guitarist trained in rock and world music, a bassist equally versed in jazz and bluegrass, a violinist with technique that could seamlessly hop between honky-tonk and electro-pop, and a female lead singer with grit and soul who is a multi-instrumentalist and songwriter. This band is different, exciting, and worth experiencing.

This West Coast outfit was just a group of friends playing a monthly gig until 2012 and 2013, when they entered and won first prize in the Telluride and RockyGrass band competitions. These are the same prestigious band contests that once launched the careers of the Dixie Chicks, Greensky Bluegrass, and the Steep Canyon Rangers. The contest wins bolstered the band’s confidence in its unique mix of original songwriting, vocal harmonies and instrumental virtuosity, steeling their resolve to take a leap of faith and become a full time touring.

With the release of their debut full-length album Sake of the Sound in 2014, Front Country began the nose-grinding work of making their name as a national touring act. Still based in the San Francisco Bay Area, the band trekked a 6,000+ mile circle around the U.S. introducing themselves for the first time to every room that would have them. Thanks to the glow of their contest wins, festivals around the U.S. caught wind and invited them to play, giving Front Country a crucial break. Old Settlers in Austin, MerleFest in North Carolina, Wintergrass in Seattle, Strawberry in California, and Grey Fox in New York all took a chance on the promising new band and solidified Front Country’s hold on the imagination of progressive-leaning acoustic music fans.

Here’s what KSON DJ Wayne Rice of the Sunday night Bluegrass Special radio show had to say about the band: “They are fantastic. Just saw them. I play their stuff on my radio show frequently.”

Here’s what Fretboard Journal said about them: “They somehow strike that perfect blend of soaring vocals, impressive playing and interesting song choices.”

Do yourself a favor and check this intriguing band out.

Friday, February 9, AMSD Concerts @ Sweetwater Union High School, 2900 Highland Ave., National City, at 7:30pm. Reserved seats are available at $20 and $30. Visit for tickets, info, and all the details.

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