Bobby & Sonny - the Osborne Brothers

Bobby & Sonny - the Osborne Brothers

 

Del McCoury

Del McCoury

Bill Monroe

My Bluegrass Odyssey
 
Photos          Travel Reports
 

My bluegrass odyssey goes back many years. Back in the good old days, bluegrass was just another aspect of country music – you’d hear it on The Grand Ole Opry and similar programs, and on country music stations. TV shows such as the Porter Wagoner Show and others would include bluegrass musicians along with the more mainstream country stars of the day.

I always enjoyed bluegrass, and considered it just a part of country music. One thing that really piqued my interest was a TV broadcast that I happened to see some time in the 60s. It featured Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs playing “Salty Dog Blues,” (AKA "Old Salty Dog Blues") and I was amazed and impressed at the performance. When each player took his solo, he stepped up to the mike and played his part with precision, looking as if it was the easiest thing in the world. This song has been my favorite bluegrass song ever since.

In the late 1990s, I discovered that there was a bluegrass festival in my home town of Mariposa CA. I decided to check it out, and took in the afternoon and evening shows, joined by my younger daughter and her husband, Jennifer & Rod.

The next year (May 1998) I again went on Saturday, joined this time by my older daughter and her family, Teri, Tim & grandson Mikie.

In 1999 I took Friday off from work, and attended my first full weekend festival. I didn’t take the trailer, but instead spent the night at my parents' house after the music ended Friday and Saturday nights.

Tim & Teri decided that the next year, they would go with me for the weekend, and for the first time I took my trailer. Both grandsons, Mikie and Johnny, came along, as well as Johnny's friend and hockey teammate Moses, and Tim’s parents, Marge & Rocky. This time I took off work so we could go on Thursday.

Everyone enjoyed the festival in their own way...the adults for the music and just getting away from the day to day routine...Mikie just because he enjoys life nearly all the time...JD and Moses hanging out together and doing whatever they could find to do. They went to town most of Saturday; and went out to dinner with Dad and Mother.

We immediately agreed that we would return next year (2001), but it was not to be. The Mariposa Arts Council decided not to hold the festivals any longer, so I started looking into a festival I had heard of that would be held in Parkfield, in the coast hills west of Fresno. Teri, Mikie and I went to it, and I have missed only one since then, the 2007 event.

The following year (2002) was the first festival after I retired, so for the first time I did not need to go home on Sunday night. We went on Wednesday as I recall, and came home Monday morning, and enjoyed everything about it. With the extra time available due to not having to go to work, I began to seek out and attend other festivals, and the rest is recorded in my endless series of travel reports.

By my informal count, I have attended 57 festivals, 8 of them for one day only, and the rest for the full three or four days. I’m looking forward to many more.

The official count
(Updated May 14, 2017)

Summergrass (Vista CA).............................................................................

1

Jake's Brown Barn Festival..........................................................................

3

Parkfield (formerly Camp Rude)..................................................................

16

Logandale NV...............................................................................................

2

Colorado River (Bullhead/Laughlin)............................................................

3

Bluegrass on the River (Parker AZ)............................................................

3

Bluegrass on the Beach (Lake Havasu AZ) (Replaced Parker)..............

1

Bluegrass in the Foothills (Plymouth CA)...................................................

6

Superstition Mountain (Apache Junction AZ)............................................

1

Supergrass (Bakersfield).............................................................................

2

Kings River (formerly Hobbs Grove; formerly Kings River).......................

9

Mariposa Festival..........................................................................................

4

Huck Finn Jubilee (Victorville CA)...............................................................

3

Mid-State Bluegrass Festival (Paso Robles).............................................

1

Good Old Fashioned Bluegrass Festival (Hollister)..................................

2


By the way, if your cable or satellite system offers RFD TV, you have access to some great bluegrass and country music (it’s channel 379 on my DirecTV service).

The best show is Reno’s Old Time Music. Don Reno & Red Smiley were among the first generation of bluegrass pioneers. Although lesser known, they were nearly as influential as Bill Monroe or Flatt & Scruggs. Don’s son Ronnie hosts the show. Every episode features one song by Ronnie and his band, followed by interviews and performances by some of the top names in bluegrass. Sometimes there is a clip from Reno & Smiley's TV show of the 1960s. As of April 2011, there are brand new shows every week, with several repeats that are three to five years old.

The other pure bluegrass offering is Cumberland Highlanders. Originating from Bill Monroe’s home town of Rosine, KY, these shows are current, or at least not more than a year old, and feature many regional groups from the southeast. Frankly the production work leaves a lot to be desired, but sometimes you can hear some outstanding music by groups you’ve never heard of. I’ve also seen the Cherryholmes Family, Ralph Stanley and a several other familiar groups and artists.

Stan Hitchcock’s Heart to Heart Classics focuses more on mainstream country, but it tends to be the more traditional artists rather than the current crop who are mostly rockers with big hats. The shows airing as of April 2011 are from 2005 or later. The format is very informal, with interviews interspersed with purely acoustic performances by the artist, accompanied by Stan on guitar.

From the late classic era comes The Porter Wagoner Show. Bluegrass artists are rare, but these shows go back to the 1960s, and you get a chance to see artists who are long gone. In recent weeks I saw a very young Waylon Jennings, an equally young Bobby Bare, and departed giants such as Hank Show and Marty Robbins. Many of the shows also feature Dolly Parton, by herself and harmonizing with Porter. Bluegrass purists may not care for the electric guitar, much less the electric banjo, but the fiddler, the late Mack Magaha, toured for many years with Reno & Smiley, so there is a bluegrass connection here.

9/30/09 update: The RFD Network is currently offering a brand new musical show with an old-style flavor - the Marty Stuart Show. Unless you have had no contact whatsoever with country music over the last 20 years, you know that Marty has been a big star for a long time. Before that, "Little Marty Stuart" played bluegrass with Lester Flatt's band at age 13, and later toured with Johnny Cash.

His show reminds me in some ways of Wagoner's, complete with the fancy western suits and a talented band, the Fabulous Superlatives, whose members sometimes step forward to do a lead vocal. Most shows feature a bluegrass or traditional country artist, and Marty's wife, country star Connie Smith, makes an appearance in each show. It's a nice mixture of electrified and acoustic country music. Although the show starts out electrified, by the mid-point acoustic instruments have nearly taken over in most episodes.

10/5/11 update: I recently discovered another bluegrass show. It's not my style, but many fans might enjoy America's Bluegrass Gospel Show, on Pursuit Channel. This is primarily an infomercial and hunting/fishing channel (608 on DirecTV).

5/24/16 update: Cumberland Highlanders is apparently still running; the others are either off the air or appear sporadically.

If you have any interest in bluegrass, country, or acoustic music in general, these shows are all worth checking out.

--Dick Estel, June 2006 (Updated May 2010, April 2011 and May 24, 2016)

Photos
(Photos open in a new window)

One way to enjoy a bluegrass festival Johnnie, Mikie & Moses Tim & Teri, Rockie & Margie, Mikie
Everyone enjoys the  festival in his own way Johnnie, Mikie & Moses Tim & Teri, Rocky & Margie, Mikie
 
Bill Monroe Ralph & Carter Stanley Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs
Bill Monroe Ralph & Carter Stanley Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs
 
Cherryholmes Family, Camp Rude, Parkfield, 2001 Don Reno & Red Smiley Ivan Rosenberg (Uncle Slosh), seated; promoter Pat Conway in cowboy hat, et al
Cherryholmes Family, Camp Rude, Parkfield, 2001 Don Reno & Red Smiley Ivan Rosenberg (Uncle Slosh), seated; promoter Pat Conway in cowboy hat, et al
     
Dick with Snap Jackson in Dunlap Janell with Snap Bill Bryson & Herb Pedersen, offstage at Parkfield
Dick with Snap Jackson in Dunlap Janell with Snap Bill Bryson & Herb Pedersen, offstage at Parkfield
 
 
The Promoters
Bill Bogan, Soggy Mountain Festival Randy Gray, Colorado River Festival Larry Baker, Parker & Plymouth Festivals
Bill Bogan, Soggy Mountain Festival Randy Gray, Colorado River Festival Larry Baker, Lake Havasu & Plymouth Festivals
 
Jerry Johnson, Kings River Festival Jerry Johnson, Doug Cornelius, Patrick Tenyenhuis Pat & Rosie Conway, Camp Rude (Parkfield)
Jerry Johnson, Kings River Festival Jerry Johnson, Doug Cornelius, Patrick Tenyenhuis, Kings River (at 2009 Hobbs Grove) Pat & Rosie Conway, Camp Rude (Parkfield)
 

Dick's Bluegrass Links

Dick's Bluegrass T-Shirt Photos

Jim & Jesse McReynolds

Jim & Jesse McReynolds

 

Flatt & Scruggs

Flatt & Scruggs

Doyle Lawson

 
Travel Reports
   
Before 2002     2002     2003     2004     2005     2006     2007     2008         2009

2010    2011    2012     2013     2014     2015     2016     2017     2018    Other

   
Before 2002
Early Trips Later Trips
Camping Trips Backpacking Trips
1961 Monterey Jazz Festival Bluegrass Odyssey
   
Multi-Year Compilations
Fresno Area Canal Walks Clovis Trail Walks
   
2002
Journey of 2002 (Ohio & Back) Logandale & Utah Parks 2002
   
2003
Arizona & Bluegrass on the River 2003 Grand Canyon & Logandale Bluegrass 2003
Parkfield & Huck Finn 2003 Early Frog Camps (2003-2005)
   
2004
Paso Robles & Parkfield 2004 Road Trip 2004 (Ohio & Back)
Bullhead City Bluegrass, Mesa, Superstition Bluegrass 2004 Bluegrass in the Foothills 2004
   
2005
Arizona-Southern California 2005 Huck Finn Bluegrass 2005
Morro Bay 2005 Stargazer Rock Camp 2005
Parkfield Bluegrass 2005    
   
2006
Huck Finn Bluegrass 2006 Las Vegas Commodore Expo 2006
Rock Creek Non-Camp Stargazer Rock Camp 2006
Parkfield Bluegrass 2006 Oregon 2006
Bluegrass in the Foothills 2006    
   
2007
Bullhead City, Bakersfield, Joshua Tree 2007 Frog Camp 2007
Eastern Sierra Journey 2007 Las Vegas Commodore Expo 2007
Stargazer Rock Camp 2007 Roundup #1
(Mother Lode; Kings Canyon, Yosemite)
Bluegrass in the Foothills 2007    
   
2008
Nevada-Arizona Hockey & Bluegrass 2008 Parkfield Bluegrass 2008
Frog Camp 2008 Las Vegas Commodore Expo 2008
Stargazer Rock Camp 2008 Bluegrass in the Foothills 2008
Hobbs Grove Festival 2008     
   
2009
Roundup 2009
Las Vegas, Mariposa, Table Mountain, Orange County
Frog Camp 2009 Southern Journey 2009
Parkfield Bluegrass 2009 Stargazer Rock Camp 2009
Bluegrass Tour 2009
Brown Barn, Plymouth, Hobbs Grove   
Hensley Lake Camp
   
2010
Mojave National Preserve & Havasu Bluegrass Roundup 2010
Hensley Reservoir, Mojave Preserve 2 & 3
Parkfield Bluegrass 2010 Lake Almanor & Mt. Lassen 2010
Las Vegas Expo Summergrass
    Brown Barn, Watsonville & Hobbs Grove
   
2011
Roundup 2011
Mariposa, Hensley, Table Mountain
Frog Camp 2011
Parkfield Bluegrass 2011 Frank, Pat, Dick & Ted's Excellent Adventure
Northern Coast Journey 2011 Las Vegas Commodore Expo 2011
Good Old Fashioned Bluegrass Festival Chilkoot & Stargazer Rock Camp
Kings River & Brown Barn Bluegrass Festivals Hensley Camp 2011
    
2012 
Parkfield Bluegrass 2012 Four Squaw Leap Hikes
Northern Coast Journey 2012 Las Vegas Commodore Expo 2012
Stargazer Rock Camp 2012 Bluegrass in the Foothills 2012
A 3-Event Weekend
Farmer's Market, Kings River Bluegrass, Antique Fair
2012 Las Vegas CAN AM Hockey Challenge
Fall Hikes
Finegold Trail; Bower Cave
Into Los Gatos Canyon
  
2013
Silver Stick Tournament - Canada Sierra Foothills - Winter 2013
Finegold Trailhead, Hensley Lake, San Joaquin Gorge
Death Valley - Alabama Hills - Whitney Portal Sierra Foothills - Spring 2013
San Joaquin Gorge Hike, Big Creek Drive
Parkfield Bluegrass 2013 Shaver Crossing Station & Big Creek
Lake Almanor & Caribou Crossroads Mono Hot Springs
Good Old Fashioned Bluegrass Festival A Wedding in Duluth
Sequoia Park Hiking Roundup 2013
Kings River Bluegrass, Buena Vista Peak Hike, Hensley Lake Camp, North Fork Mono Museum, White Rock Road, Hockey in Denver
     
2014
2014 Winter Hikes
Millerton South Bay Trail, Clovis Trail, Hite's Cove Trail
San Joaquin Gorge Campout
Colorado Springs Hockey Tournament Lake Havasu Bluegrass
2014 Spring Hikes
Stockton Creek Preserve, San Joaquin River Trail, San Joaquin Gorge, Millerton Lake, Sycamore Creek, Buena Vista Peak Again
NORCAL Hockey Playoffs and Santa Cruz Visit
Greeley Hill Road Trip Parkfield Bluegrass 2014
Journey of 2014 Journey of 2014 Photos
Nelder Grove Hikes 2014 Sentinel Dome Hike
2014 Fall & Winter Hikes
San Joaquin River Trail South & North, Red Rock Canyon Nevada, San Joaquin South Again
California Flat Campout
Snow Day with the  Upshaw's   
 
2015
Rambler Hikes 2015 Part 1 Rambler Hikes 2015 Part 2
Adventures of 2015 - February to May
(Goofy Smith Flat, Coast Redwoods & Big Sur, Pine Flat, Finegold Trail, Edison Point Trail, Nelder Grove)
Adventures of 2015 - June to December
(Lewis Creek Trail, Kaiser Pass, Kaiser Pass Again, Taft Point, Kings River Bluegrass, Shaver Logging Road, San Joaquin River Trail, Lewis S Eaton Trail, San Joaquin River Gorge, Thanksgiving at the Gorge)
Lake Tahoe & Virginia City Parkfield Bluegrass 2015
Colorado Springs Cousin Convention 2015 Las Vegas Commodore Expo 2015
Stargazer Rock Camp 2015 Grand Canyon & Arches National Parks
  
2016
Adventures of 2016 Part 1 Rambler Hikes 2016 Page 1
Adventures of 2016 Part 2 Rambler Hikes 2016 Page 2
Adventures of 2016 Part 3 Rambler Hikes 2016 Page 3
Adventures of 2016 Part 4 A Pennsylvania Adventure
Adventures of 2016 Part 5 Parkfield Bluegrass 2016
Adventures of 2016 Part 6 Las Vegas Commodore Expo 2016
Adventures of 2016 Part 7 Stargazer Rock Camp 2016
     
2017
Adventures of 2017 Part 1 Rambler Hikes 2017 Page 1
Adventures of 2017 Part 2 Rambler Hikes 2017 Page 2
Adventures of 2017 Part 3 Rambler Hikes 2017 Page 3
Adventures of 2017 Part 4 Hiking and Hockey
Adventures of 2017 Part 5 Lake Almanor
Adventures of 2017 Part 6 Northern California Redwood Hike
Parkfield Bluegrass 2017 Stargazer Rock Camp 2017
Travel Blog 2017 (an experiment) Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks
  
2108
Adventures of 2018 Part 1 Rambler Hikes 2018 Page 1
Adventures of 2018 Part 2 Rambler Hikes 2018 Page 2
Parkfield Bluegrass 2018    
Other
Fresno Area Canal Walks Clovis Trail Walks
Butch's Blog Walker Family Trips
Parkfield Earthquake Kim & Morgan Brown Trips & Photos
Travel Report Menu Estel Home Page
Photo Albums Slide Shows
Laurie Lewis' High Sierra Hikes Email
   
 

 

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Updated July 3, 2017