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February 2024
Vol. 23, No. 5
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Bluegrass Corner

Summergrass Report and Other Bluegrass News

by Dwight WordenSeptember 2023

Vicki Vaughn at Summergrass sets the mood. Photo by David Cupp.

Summergrass Report. San Diego’s outstanding bluegrass festival—Summergrass—took place over the weekend of August 18-20 at the Antique Gas and Steam Engine Museum in Vista. Friday and Saturday were filled with great music, camaraderie, and lots of camping and informal jamming. The Thursday Night Pickers were in their compound hosting jammers and friends of all stripes, kids were in classes at the Kids Camp, food and snacks were everywhere, and vendors chatted with visitors over guitars and other wares, while a series of antique tractors and steam engines were displayed and belching away. All in all, Summergrass 2023 was a great experience.

The main stage show by headliners John Moore and Friends was a standout performance featuring John Moore on mandolin, Rick Farris on guitar, Missy Raines on bass, Ron Block on banjo and Stuart Duncan on fiddle.  Stuart was recruited, taking time from his tour with Lyle Lovett; all these great players have more awards than an ant hill has red ants! The music they made was stellar.

Stuart Duncan, John Moore & Rick Farris on the Summergrass main stage. Photo by David Cupp.

As luck would have it, the first tropical storm warning in 80 something years fell smack on the middle of Summergrass. The Sunday shows and events had to be canceled as a result. There was major rain, high winds, and mud holes galore! Some campers struggled to get out with their motor homes, and tent campers who were wise got out early. The Summergrass team took down the festival tents and otherwise prepared for the storm. So, while it is too bad Sunday was canceled, we all felt fortunate that Friday and Saturday saw great weather and lots of excellent music.

Summergrass Kis Camp on stage. Photo by David Cupp.

Other great shows were put on by High Fidelity, Breaking Grass, and others. For those who like the real-deal traditional bluegrass, Danny Paisley and Southern Grass hit the spot. The local bands were in rare form as well, including Drought Tolerant, the Virtual Strangers, MohaviSoul, Chris Cerna, and more.

Summergrass is a great way to bring folks from the extended bluegrass community together for music, jamming, and socializing. John Moore, Stuart Duncan, and Ron Block all have San Diego roots ,so this festival is a chance for the legends of bluegrass to mix with the locals.

IBMA’s New Executive Director. The International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) is the trade association for bluegrass music and the bluegrass industry. Headquartered in Nashville, the IBMA represents not only the great bands and musicians, but agents, publicists, managers, graphic artists, recording companies, festival promoters, and everyone included in the bluegrass tribe.

Ken White takes over as IBMA executive director.

IBMA hosts the World of Bluegrass every fall in Raleigh, North Carolina. The event includes workshops, a trade show, and is capped by a major weekend festival. The IBMA Awards Show is also part of the festivities, as is the Bluegrass Ramble, which showcases bands throughout the clubs in town.

IBMA is governed by a 19-member Board of Directors and is managed by an Executive Director. The new Executive Director, just hired, is Ken White who is replacing Pat Morris who stepped down earlier in the year. Here’s a bit about Ken:

Ken has written for and performed with the Louisville Mandolin Orchestra, the Nashville Mandolin Ensemble, and the Wichita Symphony Orchestra. Over a lengthy musical career Ken’s multi-instrumental prowess can be heard on many recordings, most recently, a catalog of music he has co-written with his wife, Robin Macy, inspired by the bountiful patch of earth they have called home for 22 years: Bartlett Arboretum in Belle Plaine, Kansas.

World of Bluegrass 2023 is coming up soon. There’s still time to get tickets.

If you’ve never been, consider attending World of Bluegrass, if not this year then next. You won’t regret it! Visit the IBMA website for all the details: ibma.org.

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