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Western mountains and bluegrass music ... they go together like banjo and fiddle.

Western mountains and bluegrass music . . . they go together like banjo and fiddle

I'd rather be in some dark hollow,

Where the sun don't ever shine,

Than for you to be another man's darlin',

And to know that you'd never be mine.

It's sad, rollicking, lovely music--bluegrass.Hearing plaintive voices harmonize with banjo and guitar and a whispering breeze is one of the best ways we know of spending a summer weekend.

Bluegrass festivals occur throughout theWest this summer. The atmosphere is laid-back, but don't let that fool you; the furious pace and instrumental virtuosity demanded of participants in roisterous, solo-trading bluegrass "breakdowns' is sure to get your adrenaline pumping.

Larger festivals offer the opportunity tosee bluegrass legends--such as Jim & Jesse, the Osborne Brothers, Ralph Stanley, and bluegrass pioneer Bill Monroe-- playing right alongside talented local musicians. In casual workshops, musicians who garner top fees for session work in Nashville and Los Angeles share their expertise with fans for free. When the scheduled entertainment pauses, you can stroll the festival grounds. There, among the coolers and camp stoves, you'll hear parking lot picking sessions that seem to capture the heart of bluegrass: skillful but democratic, sorrowful but sweet.

Most of the festivals are held outdoors, atfairgrounds or parks, and feature 10 to 20 bands over two to four days. You can usually camp right on site, or you can stay nearby and come and go as you please. Many festivals include games, puppet shows, and other children's programs.

A mountain music comes West

The old-time sound of bluegrass belies itsrelatively recent origin. Although it traces its most direct roots to the 1930s country music of the rural Southeast, no one called it bluegrass until the early 1950s.

In 1939, the music's pioneer, Bill Monroe,first hit the Grand Ole Opry with his fast-picking Blue Grass Boys. The exciting mix of fiddle, mandolin, guitar, string bass, and the self-described "high and lonesome sound' of Monroe's singing made them popular in the Southeast, but Monroe kept refining the style. In 1945, he added Earl Scruggs and his five-string banjo. Scruggs' flying three-finger technique, little known before then, gave the banjo great importance in the musical mix--and thereby crystallized the classic bluegrass sound.

Kentuckian Monroe had named his bandfor his Blue Grass home state. But as other bands began imitating his characteristic sound, fans started calling the music itself "bluegrass.' From the mountains of Kentucky and Virginia, it's moved all over the nation, but nowhere has it found a warmer welcome than in the mountains of the West.

It also continues evolving, with groupssuch as Tony Trischka and Skyline crafting inventive variations on the music's traditional harmonies. But the tradition remains, too; bluegrass is still performed on stringed instruments played fast. The songs, new or old, still tell of sweethearts and scoundrels, lost loves, and back home.

This summer's lineup

Some of these festivals include only bluegrassbands; others also feature folk, country, or ethnic music. We give telephone numbers and addresses for tickets and information, and the cost of a festival ticket. Multi-day events generally offer single-day passes as well.

Formal seating is either quite scarce ornonexistent; most festivalgoers bring blankets and lawn chairs. Concession wagons sell county fair-style food and drinks, and merchants sell records, instruments, and souvenirs. Be sure to bring sun screen and a hat.

NORTHERN CALIFORNIA

Grass Valley. California BluegrassAssociation's Grass Valley Bluegrass Festival, June 19, 20, and 21. For tickets, write to California Bluegrass Association, 623 Harvard Court, Woodland 95695, or call (916) 662-5691.

At the Nevada County Fairgrounds, thisfestival hosts nationally known performers such as The Osborne Brothers and California bluegrass bands--The Sawtooth Mountain Boys, Sidesaddle, Weary Hearts.

Tickets cost $13 for members and seniors,$32 for nonmembers. Fairgrounds campsites are free, or try hotels, motels, and inns in Nevada City or Grass Valley.

California's Midsummer BluegrassFestival, July 31, August 1 and 2. Midsummer Bluegrass Festival, Inc., Box 19876, Sacramento 95819; (916) 456-3703 or 965-8089 or (415) 530-7486.

One of the state's largest festivals (also heldat the Nevada County Fairgrounds), this one will host Bill Monroe, Mac Wiseman, Jim & Jesse, Ralph Stanley, Doyle Lawson, Vern Williams, Bryan Bowers, Peter Rowan, David Grisman, Tony Trischka and Skyline, and Berline, Crary and Hickman. A festival ticket costs $40.

Roseville. Country Music Festival, June 26,27, and 28. Western States Country Music Association, 3333 S. Carson St., Carson City, Nev. 89701; (702) 882-3286.

Amateur musicians and songwriterscompete in bluegrass and other categories. Held at Placer County Fairgrounds. One-day tickets run $6 and $8.

Yosemite. Strawberry Spring MusicFestival, May 22 through 25. Box 3097, Sonora, Calif. 95370; (209) 586-1061.

Performers at Camp Mather include theNitty Gritty Dirt Band, Hot Rize, Tony Rice, and Nanci Griffith. Activities for families and children are planned.

Festival tickets (good from 6 A.M. Friday)are $55 apiece; 3,500 are available. Most people camp on site; two-day camping ticket (good from 6 A.M. Saturday) is $45.

Yosemite. Strawberry Bluegrass Festival '87,September 3 through 7. Box 3097, Sonora, Calif. 95370; (209) 586-1061.

Also at Camp Mather, this festival is purebluegrass: Bill Monroe, The Osborne Brothers, Doc Watson, New Grass Revival, Mike Cross, Sidesaddle, Fiddlestix, and other groups.

A festival ticket (good from 6 A.M.Thursday) costs $59; 4,500 are available. A three-day camping ticket is $52.

COLORADO

Fort Morgan. Bluegrass Festival, August 1and 2. Morgan County Arts Council, Box 1005, Fort Morgan 80701; (303) 867-6702.

Held at Riverside Park, the festival featuresColorado bands: Bluegrass Patriots, John McEuen and Southern Exposure, Rocky Mountain Cloggers. One-day tickets are $7, two-day tickets $10. Free first-come, first-served camping.

Henderson. Fifteenth Annual RockyMountain Bluegrass Music Festival, August 14, 15, and 16. Box 621, Brighton 80601; 659-5022.

Headliners include Hot Rize, NashvilleBluegrass Band, New Quicksilver, and Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys. Site is Adams County Fairgrounds.

In advance, weekend tickets cost $25; at gate, one-day tickets range from $10 to $15. Camping is $3 per night.

Montrose. Sixth Annual Montrose Old-TimeMusic Contest, August 8. For tickets or information, write to 1001 N. Second St., Montrose 81401; 249-8884.

At the Montrose County Fairgrounds, thisone-day contest attracts mostly local amateurs. Pay $3 at gate to watch or compete. Awards go to best performances on flat-pick guitar, five-string banjo, fiddle, and mandolin--and to best acoustic band.

Telluride. Fourteenth Annual TellurideBluegrass Festival, June 17 through 21. Box 7212, Boulder 80306; 449-6007.

Probably Colorado's most famous festival,this is held in Town Park. Workshops and contests are on the first two days; festival is thereafter. Performers: The Tony Rice Unit, Riders in the Sky, Chris Daniels, Leo Kottke, Nanci Griffith, Doc Watson, David Grisman Quartet, Nashville Bluegrass Band, Lyle Lovett, Mark O'Connor, Jerry Douglas, John Hartford, New Grass Revival, and Berline, Crary and Hickman.

If bought ahead, festival tickets cost $63;at gate, they're $73, one-day tickets $23 to $32.

Vail. Balloons, Bluegrass and Barbecue,August 22 and 23. Box 915, Beaver Creek 81620; 949-5750, ext. 4636.

Saturday finds hot-air balloons andbluegrass music at Nottingham Lake in Avon, 10 miles west of Vail via I-70. Sunday's concert is at Beaver Creek Resort in Avon. Performers include New Grass Revival, Tony Rice, Southern Exposure. Ticket prices not set at press time.

NEVADA

Washoe Valley. Bowers Mansion BluegrassFestival, September 19. Box 18256, Reno 89511; (702) 849-0276.

Concert held at Comstock-era BowersMansion spotlights northern Nevada bluegrass groups, also features spoon-playing contest. Tickets $5 per person, $10 per family.

Photo: Plastic feathered friend does have a purpose--in sea of concertgoers, these folks marked their place with their pink flamingo

Photo: Fans show pride with hats and T-shirts forthemselves, bumper sticker for their car

Photo: Risking her bare feet, she gives hopefulhoofer first lesson in a bluegrass two-step

Photo: C is for Cajun, D is for Dulcimer in racksof hard-to-find albums sold beneath awnings stretched between pines

Photo: Parkin' lot pickin'session turns camping area into a musical common ground for players from all over

Photo: Buckaroo-hatted members of 8th Avenue String Band pleased crowds at last year's Strawberry festival in Yosemite

Photo: What makes the bluegrass sound?

Five-string banjo adds fast, spicy twang

Fiddle sings with a passionate edge

Guitar is bluegrass's backbone

Mandolin: plucky, ringing solos

Dobro guitar: like a metal yodel
COPYRIGHT 1987 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1987 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:summer music festivals in California, Colorado, and Nevada
Publication:Sunset
Article Type:Directory
Date:Jun 1, 1987
Words:1366
Previous Article:Old ranches, new parks just north of Santa Cruz.
Next Article:Too late to book into Yosemite?
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