San Diego is blessed to have one of the premier bluegrass festivals on the West Coast right here in our back yard. The Summergrass Festival, held this year over the weekend of August 15-17, is produced by the non-profit San Diego Bluegrass Society and the North San Diego County Bluegrass and Folk Club. Let’s take a look at this year’s festival.
Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper Led by multi-time IBMA Fiddle Player of the Year Michael Cleveland, and winner of many band awards and accolades, will be there. This great band will get your juices going.
Special Consensus will also be there, led by one of the true greats of banjo artistry, Greg Cahill, and featuring music from their brand new CD release of bluegrass versions of John Denver hits.
The all-female band, Della Mae, has virtually taken the world by storm, having traveled on a U.S. State Department tour of the “Stans”: Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, etc. will be performing. Della Mae is as good as it gets. These women will stun you with their instrumentation and vocal harmonies.
Rounding out the entertainers are perennial favorites Bluegrass Etc. and a host of local and regional bands. Visit www.summergrass.net to see the schedules and to get your tickets.
If you have a kid, or a grandkid, or if you know someone who does, check out the Summergrass Kids Camp. Youngsters aged 6-16 can sign up for instruction on the bluegrass instruments, with classes taught by the performing band Front Country. There are instructional sessions each day culminated by a main stage performance on Sunday. Read all about it at www.summergrass.net/kids-camp. There is also an adult boot camp for those over 16 who want intensive training with top performers.
Summergrass provides plenty to do for the whole family, including workshops, jamming, vendors, great food, and interesting displays to see and touch at the Antique Gas and Steam Engine Museum where the festival is hosted. Be sure to visit Summergrass this year. You won’t regret it!
BLUEGRASS DAY AT THE FAIR REPORT. July 5 brought the annual Bluegrass Day at the Fair to the Plaza Stage at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, and a great day it was! There was a wonderful presentation by Jane Frey and her students aged two to 16 — 30+ on stage at once, playing old time fiddle tunes while mom, dad, and the grandparents snapped away on their cameras. There was also an impressive demonstration by the California State Old Time Fiddlers Association, District 7 (San Diego), featuring Bruce Barnes, John Michael Brooks and other association members on fiddle.
The traditional band scramble was also held, with more than 50 participants comprising over six bands, including professional band members, kids under eight, and adults over 80, and a range of abilities from beginner to advanced. Stirred up and placed randomly in bands and then given 15 minutes to work up two songs to perform on stage for judges, the band scramble is always a highlight. This year’s winning band was the Blue Whales comprised of Phil Levy on banjo, Dwight Worden on bass, Eli on fiddle, Charlie on mandolin, James Rust on mandolin, Rose Scibelli on guitar, Gerry Rahill on ukulele, Michele Barke on guitar, John Michael Brooks on fiddle, and Lewis Meyer on guitar.
Completing the day were excellent performances by five top local bands: Box Canyon, Chris Stuart and Janet Beazley, Gone Tomorrow, Old Town Road, and the Swept Wing Chicken Thieves. If you missed Bluegrass Day at the fair this year, keep an eye out for next year’s event.