Happy New Year to All! Bluegrass fans are, by nature, optimists. Great music, authentically performed, will do that to you. In that vein we look forward to 2022 even as we hunker down to deal with yet another Covid wave, this time fueled by Omicron. Here’s what I see for the first few months of 2022:
- The Great 48. The California Bluegrass Association’s Great 48 jam in Bakersfield held over the second weekend in January is a success. Proof of vaccination was required of all, and the Friday concerts were cancelled for safety, but the jamming, comaraderie, and good cheer continued.
- Bluegrass on the Beach, scheduled at Lake Havasu for March 4, 5, and 6, 2022 will see Omicron not gone, but in manageable decline. There will be lots of great outdoor music and jamming.
- SDBS and NCBFC will return to their normal 2nd and 1st Tuesday sessions, respectively.
- Thursday Night Pickers will meet regularly enjoying their Thursday night sessions at Round Table Pizza in Encinitas.
- Concerts and live performances will return to local stages.
Summergrass. The wheels are in motion to transition the wildly successful Summergrass Festival (annual in August in Vista) to a new nonprofit sponsor. Both the San Diego Bluegrass Society (SDBS) and the North County Bluegrass and Folk Club (NCBFC) have been the all-volunteer nonprofits sponsoring the festival since its inception in 2003. But, now both agree it is time to transition to a new nonprofit sponsor this year that can take the festival to even better years ahead. Stay tuned for updates.
In the near term we are seeing some cancellations due to covid and Omicron. The Del Mar Foundations’ Nefesh Mountain concert scheduled for January 7 has been cancelled as has the SDBS 2nd Tuesday in January due to covid. But, with luck, things will ramp back up in February.
HIGHLIGHTS OF 2021
All-star Performance in San Diego on December 16, 2021. Some of the greatest musicians to ever play bluegrass put on a stellar concert at the Balboa Theater in downtown San Diego on December 16, 2021. Bela Fleck, 15 time Grammy winner, led the My Bluegrass Heart concert on banjo. His bandmates featured mandolinist Sam Bush, fiddler Stuart Duncan, Dobro player Jerry Douglas, bassist Edgar Meyer, and guitarist Bryan Sutton. Wow—that’s a line up! This was bluegrass as good as it gets from these stars, most of whom have played together for decades.
Tim Flannery and Friends at Star of India. Tim Flannery, along with a number of his standout musician friends, put on their annual concert aboard the Star of India on December 18, 2021. As with the Bela Fleck concert, proof of vaccination was required. A poignant scene in the Flannery concert was the empty chair and tribute honoring long-time band member Dennis Caplinger who passed away last year.
Troubadour Fundraiser and Party a Success. The Troubadour held its annual fundraiser and party at the Tango Del Rey in Pacific Beach on December 12, 2021. A virtual list of who’s who in local acoustic music was there. Entertainment was provided by
- Shawn Rohlf Band
- Sue Palmer and her Motel Swing Orchestra
- Chuck Schiele’s Quatro (all the way from Syracuse, NY)
- Charlie Arbelaez Quartet
- Whitney Shay Band with Laura Chavez!
Proof of vaccination and masks indoors were the order of the evening, with lots of great food and a warm fire pit outside. It was great to see so many friends and musicians in person, doing what we all love.