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March 2024
Vol. 23, No. 6

Bluegrass Corner

Bluegrass Day at the Fair

by Dwight WordenJuly 2011

BLUEGRASS DAY AT THE FAIR. Sunday, June 12 was “Bluegrass Day at the Fair” at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. The festivities took place on the beautiful Paddock Stage and ran from 11am until 8pm. Six outstanding local bands performed: Box Canyon and the Hilltop Ramblers from North County, with the Full Deck, Driftwood, Gone Tomorrow, and Prairie Sky rounding out the local band performances. The closing concert was presented by Murrieta-based Silverado, featuring super talent Dennis Caplinger sitting in on fiddle.

A traditional band scramble was also held, which attracted 40 plus participants. Names were drawn randomly to form six bands for the competition. Each band was given 15 minutes to work up two to three songs to be performed on stage for evaluation by judges Dan and Pat Harrison. When the dust settled, the band Two Songs and Gone, comprised of Russ Little on mandolin, Dwight Worden on bass, Gerry Rahill on ukulele, Phil Levy on banjo, John Mailander on fiddle, and Kit Birkett on guitar, was crowned the overall winner. The other winners were:

Best female vocalist: Rene Barke. Best male vocalist: Phil Levy. Best guitar: Kit Birkett. Best banjo: Corky Shelton. Best fiddle: John Mailander. Best mandolin: Richard Burkett. Best bass: Dwight Worden. Best specialty instrument: John Deckard (jaw harp). Best young player: Ada Ellisman (fiddle).

There was also a great performance by youngsters from the Carlsbad Strings Program along with students of acclaimed teacher Jane Frey. These elementary school-age kids performed a number of classic bluegrass fiddle tunes backed up by Phil Levy and his bluegrass band assembled for that purpose. The day’s activities also featured an outstanding clog dancing demonstration led by top clog dancer Melinda Leatherman.

KEEPING ON TOP OF BLUEGRASS IN SAN DIEGO. Have you ever wondered what the best way is to keep informed about bluegrass activities happening in the San Diego area (aside from reading this column, of course)? Here are some options and resources to consider:

Join the San Diego Bluegrass Society for $20 per year for the whole family and you’ll receive e-mail alerts and fliers about all things bluegrass in San Diego. You can learn more about the SDBS, and you can join online with your credit card, at, where there is also a calendar of events.

Check out KSON’s Bluegrass Bulletin Board posted on line by radio DJ Wayne Rice of KSON’s Bluegrass Special radio show. You can sign up to receive e-mails to receive the Bluegrass Bulletin Board, or you can check it out online at: Wayne does a good job of keeping the list up to date.

SUMMERGRASS IS COMING!! Summergrass, San Diego’s biggest bluegrass event of the year, returns to the Antique Gas and Steam Engine Museum in Vista over the weekend of August 19-21. Headlined by the world famous Grascals, the lineup is deep and impressive for 2011. There will be the usual Kids camp, Adult Boot Camp, vendors, camping, workshops, and other activities. Visit the Summergrass website at for all the details or to buy tickets. Look for more details in next month’s Troubadour.

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