year I made my first trip to the Summergrass
festival in San Diego. This year I decided to try another "new
to me" festival, the Good
Old Fashioned Bluegrass Festival near
Tres Pinos. The festival is not new to everyone - this was the
annual, so it's well-established. The location is Bolado Park,
which also serves as the San Benito County fairgrounds, eight miles
south of Hollister on California highway 25.
to the way things should be done, this festival made a very bad
first impression. First, there were no signs along the road or at
the gate to indicate that I was in the right place (I had to ask
someone who was already there). And, when I arrived on Thursday, there was no
one on duty to check people in and help them find a camping spot. I
finally took matters into my own hands and set up at one of the RV
hook-up sites, but I still had some concerns. I had paid for
electricity but not sewer or water, and my site had all three, so I
was wondering if I would be asked to move. After a day with no
problems, I ended that worry.
than the lack of help for new arrivals was the fact that the camping
area was covered with dried straw and horse poop (it's a
fairgrounds, remember?) The manure was dried and breaking up, and
there was no smell, but there were about a billion flies, one
million of which immediately moved into my motor home for the
weekend. So it's not surprising that I was a little grumpy that
the stage area was away from the barns, in a nice, shaded grassy
area, and there were very few flies there. Some of the performers
were chasing flies now and then, but I never had one near me during
the music. So it didn't take long on Friday for me to improve my
attitude and start enjoying the event.
official program started at 3 p.m. on Friday and went into the
evening without a break. One of the features of this festival is
that each group plays only one set, which translates into a lot of
groups. And since many of them were unknown to me, I'm having a bit
of trouble sorting them out after the fact.
I can give a big shout-out to Susie Glaze and the Hilonesome
group from Southern California that I had never heard of, and that
proved to be the amazing discovery of this festival. Susie has a
gentle but powerful voice, and a talented band, and I hope I can see them again.
One set was not enough for this band. Scroll down the page to check out
a sample song on
the web page.
the bands I had seen before, the ones I most looked forward to were OMGG, a group of four talented teens; and
& the Knock on Wood Players. I've seen them both about three times, and they are
getting better all the time. They both did great sets, and both
audience and performers seemed to wish they had more time to play.
group I've seen quite a few times is Sidesaddle
& Company; in fact, they were
at my very first ever festival. They are a group from the south SF
bay area, and have been together about 25 years, with mostly the
same line-up for at least the last 15. I enjoyed them that first
time back in the '90s, but they didn't strike me as being a top
level group. However, I've found myself liking them more and more
the last three or four times I've seen them. They are a tight-knit,
highly professional group, with a good collection of original songs
and old standards.
was the most electrified bluegrass festival I've ever attended. Two
groups used nearly all electrical instruments, as well as drums (and
keyboards in one case), and
both were too loud. I didn't care for the first one, the JEDD
Brothers, but Houston
Jones was quite interesting, with lyrics that made you sit up and
take notice. It wasn't bluegrass, but it was OK. Listen to the song
that's available when you go to the web site.
weather was as close to perfect as it gets - clear skies, a nice
breeze, and just a slight cool down in the evening. There was
some fog one morning, but it burned off by the time the music got
setting is a level valley about a mile across at the park, with
golden brown grass-covered hills on the east side, and
rugged hills with quite a bit of brush on the west. Just west of the
fairgrounds is the San Benito River, which parallels the road from
town. Festival rules have this to say about the river: "The
river may not be used for wading, drinking, washing, trash disposal,
or any other purpose." It would take a determined rule-violator
indeed to breach this clause - there is no view of the river and
access is blocked by trees and brush, including plenty of poison
oak, that would require a machete to get through.
was a nice weekend, despite the few negatives, and I will be very
tempted to return again next year.
Estel, August 2011