Bluegrass Corner

The Great 48 Jam Session

We had a wonderful time at the great 48 jam session! Every year, the California Bluegrass Association hosts concerts, workshops, showcases, and jam sessions in downtown Bakersfield. This year’s event just ended. Called “The Great 48,” folks from all of the western states come together for a weekend of full-time bluegrass. Our local San Diego Bluegrass Society (SDBS) and North County Bluegrass and Folk Club (NCBFC), with the Summergrass Festival they host every summer, have a major presence at the Great 48. These local groups host a suite, promoting our local events and showcasing various bands. In addition, one can see many San Diego bluegrassers in jam sessions throughout the event, as well as local bands presenting showcases in the concert hall and other suites.

The Great 48 started as an event anchored by major national touring band concerts, complemented by jamming. But, it was quickly modified to feature jamming as the primary event since that seemed to be what most folks wanted, and the event has been successful ever since. If you have never attended, consider attending next year. Admission is free, lodging options are affordable, it’s only about a four-hour drive, and it truly is great fun.

More info about the Great 48 is available on the CBA website:

Lorraine Jordan and Carolina Road Coming to San Diego. Based in North Carolina, Lorraine Jordan and her group are bringing their strong traditional bluegrass show to San Diego. Sponsored by the non-profit SDBS, this free concert (donations requested) will be held on Sunday afternoon Feb. 23rd at 4 pm, allowing folks to enjoy the concert and still get home for dinner! There will be an opening 30 minute set by local band Prairie Sky. The concert is at the First Baptist Church of Pacific Beach at 4747 Soledad Mountain Road, San Diego, CA. 92109. There is plenty of onsite free parking.

Hawktail Coming to Del Mar. The Del Mar Foundation, through its Bluegrass and Beyond Series, is presenting Hawktail out of Nashville in concert at the Del Mar Town Hall on Thursday, February 13 at 7pm. This is one fantastic band! Brittany Haas on fiddle is a young superstar, as are the other players including Jordan Tice on guitar and Paul Kowert of the Punch Brothers on bass, and Dominick Leslie on mandolin. Read more and get tickets here:


New Temecula Bluegrass Jam. Some local folks led by guitar virtuoso Billie Frisbie have started a new jam session in Temecula. Its open to the public and admission is free. Here are the vitals:

When: Every third Tuesday of the month, 6:30–9pm
Where: Burgers and Beer, 41577 Margarita Rd, Temecula
Ability: All levels
Cost: Free

No RSVP necessary, just show up. Text reminders are sent before each jam to those who want them, and the leaders will also give notice in case of cancellation. Read more on Facebook:

I’ll be checking it out and suggest you do too!

Duck Foot Brewery Jam. Speaking of jams, check out the new (since last summer) bluegrass jam at the Duck Foot Brewery in Kearny Mesa, at 8920 Kenamar Drive, Suite 210, every 2nd and 4th Sunday from 1-4 pm. It’s sponsored by SDBS, admission is free, all abilities welcome. Great beer too!

Why all the Jamming? A unique aspect of bluegrass music and of the glue that holds the bluegrass community together is how much it relies on jamming. Sure, we all go to concerts as listeners when we can. But, at the core of our commitment to bluegrass music is the participatory practice of informal jamming. Getting together in someone’s living room, at a brew pub, on a patio, at the Summergrass camp ground, wherever and whenever, jamming can and does occur.

There are several reasons for the importance of jamming. First, it’s hard to play bluegrass music by yourself. So, your options are to join a band if you’re playing level is high enough or to engage in jamming. Both have appeal, but jamming is more accessible to more people and doesn’t require the organizational aspects of joining a performing band. Second, jamming is a great way to meet people who share your passion. Jamming invariably includes lots of talking and get-to-know opportunities, allowing one to speak to strangers and make friends through music. Third, jamming is fun! It brings its own kind of challenge: as a musician can you improvise something on the fly? Can you contribute lead or harmony vocals on the fly? This is a very different experience from playing in a band involving rehearsals and advance preparation for performances.

If you are a player at any level there is a place for you in jam sessions. Try out some of the ones discussed above. You can also check out the SDBS website at for the regular jam sessions SDBS holds, the NCBFC website at for their jam sessions, or, if you are North County coastal, try the Thursday Night Pickers jam held every Thursday in Encinitas. Read more about it on the NCBFC website above.

Get out there are participate—you won’t regret it!

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