Bluegrass Corner

Lots of Bluegrass Happenings in October

There are great opportunities to hear bluegrass music coming up.

SIDELINE. On November 9th the San Diego Bluegrass Society (SDBS) will present Sideline in concert at the First Baptist Church of Pacific Beach, 4747 Soledad Mountain Road, in San Diego. There will be an opening local band (TBD) at 7pm. Sideline will go on at 7:30 pm. Admission is free and open to the public; donations are requested. There is also plenty of free parking.
Sideline is a pedigreed six-piece powerhouse, which has a style that has set the pace in bluegrass for over two decades. Founders Steve Dilling, Skip Cherryholmes, and Jason Moore can all claim their own historical significance to the genre as members of highly awarded groups, multiple Grand Ole Opry appearances, and years of national and international touring.

What started as a side project for the seasoned players soon moved to the front and center as the three were joined by the talents of Bailey Coe on guitar, Troy Boone on mandolin, and Daniel Greeson on fiddle, and began to record and release albums in earnest. To listen to Sideline reminds the fan of why so many people fall in love with Bluegrass in the first place; pulse-pounding drive, songs sung from the heart, perfected timing and dynamics as well as a visceral emotion in the rendering.
Ramona Bluegrass Festival. Held at a beautiful new venue in Ramona, the Ramona Bluegrass Festival will be in full swing on Saturday, October 27th from noon to 7pm at the Ramona Community Garden, 1010 12th Street, in Ramona. Seven great bands will be featured, including Blue Creek, Mohavi Soul, Chris Clarke and Plow, Philly and the Cheesesteaks, Shoreline Pickers, Shirthouse Band, and the Vulcan Mountain Boys. Whew! That’s a great lineup.

RAMONA BLUEGRASS FESTIVAL. Held at a beautiful new venue in Ramona, the Ramona Bluegrass Festival will be in full swing on Saturday, October 27th from noon to 7pm at the Ramona Community Garden, 1010 12th Street, in Ramona. Seven great bands will be featured, including Blue Creek, Mohavi Soul, Chris Clarke and Plow, Philly and the Cheesesteaks, Shoreline Pickers, Shirthouse Band, and the Vulcan Mountain Boys. Whew! That’s a great lineup.

OCTOBER BAND SCRAMBLE. SDBS is holding a band scramble at the Boll Weevil Restaurant, 9330 Clairemont Mesa Blvd. (corner of Ruffin Road) on Tuesday, October 23, from 7–9pm. All ages and abilities welcome, beginner to professional, 6 to 90. The public is welcome to come and listen and help in the judging by their applause. Admission is free to entrants and the public. Donations are requested for the non-profit SDBS. If you’ve never been to a band scramble, here’s how they work:
You write your name and the instrument you play on a piece of paper. Then, SDBS draws random slips to form bands. The instrument categories are: guitar, banjo, fiddle, bass, mandolin and ”specialty,” which includes Dobro, harmonica, etc. Vocalists are welcome, but they must also play an instrument—no singers only, since that’s not the “bluegrass way.” Each band is then given about 15 minutes to meet their band mates, select a name, and work up two to three songs to perform on stage. The bands are judged by audience applause and winners selected. It’s great fun for participants and listeners alike. No need to pre-register, you can sign up onsite—just bring your instrument.

LISTENING TO BLUEGRASS. For most genres of music the world has moved away from CDs to online listening with services like Pandora, Slacker, Spotify, and the many other similar services presenting millions of songs to listeners on their smart phones, home computers, and other devices. Typically, one can listen to a portion of the service’s stock of music for free if you are willing to put up with ads, and for a relatively small monthly charge one can listen to the full music stock ad-free and build custom radio station listening experiences of favored music.

In your car, or at home and on your devices, there is Sirius XM Radio available to subscribers, which has a hosted bluegrass channel. Here in San Diego one can tune in to Wayne Rice’s Bluegrass Special every Sunday night from 10pm to midnight on KSON radio, FM 103.7. Wayne does a great job presenting all the best in bluegrass music, traditional and contemporary.

All this listening is a good thing for bluegrass music fans. We can listen to what we want to when without purchasing CDs. This is often not so good for the musicians, however. In the bluegrass world most performing bands trying to earn a living still count on CD sales as a key part of their income.

Whether sold at their gigs, at festivals, online though CDBaby or other services, CD revenue is important, and many bluegrass fans still appreciate and buy CDs.

Performing bands with recordings also get royalties when their music is performed on digital radio (Sirius), and songwriters and record labels get royalty pay on digital and traditional FM/AM radio when their music is played. However, performers get nothing when their music is played on traditional radio. There is a long story explaining why that is the case, and perhaps this column will explore that issue in the future. For now, remember that every time you buy a bluegrass CD you are helping keep bluegrass alive. Every time you burn a copy of somebody else’s CD you are helping to starve bluegrass musicians.

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