Anderson Family

Summergrass Bluegrass Festival 2010

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I've been aware of the Summergrass Bluegrass Festival in San Diego County for about five years, and have thought about attending before. However, I always had good reasons to pass it up - too far, too hot, too much traffic between Fresno and San Diego, and conflicts with family camping plans.

This year there were no conflicts, and although it's no closer than ever, I decided  I could handle the 380 mile trip at least once. Having talked to a couple of people involved with the festival and with traveling up and down California, I avoided the LA traffic by going through Mojave and Adelanto to I-15. First, as I have done four times previously this year, I headed south on California 99 and turned east at Bakersfield on CA 58. Unlike the other trips, I did not go all the way to Barstow, but instead turned south on US 395 at Kramer Junction.

This leads to Adelanto, and a few miles further, connects with I-15. Although I could have made it all the way in one trip, this would have meant driving through the Riverside and San Bernardino metro area late in the day, so I stopped a little after 2 p.m. at the RV park in Adelanto. I was able to get in my daily swim, something that I'll miss during the rest of the trip.

I got a lot of reading and TV watching accomplished, and got on the road about 9 a.m. the next day. The festival location is at the Antique Gas & Steam Engine Museum, a complex of a dozen or more buildings, with lots of antique cars and trucks, as well as engines large and small. There's also plenty of space for RV parking, and I paid the extra fee to have electricity, something that has proved well worth while with the warm weather here.

Not long after entering San Diego County on I-15, I turned west on CA 76, which joins I-5 at Oceanside. Just a few miles before that, a road south leads right to the museum, so I got there and got set up before noon.

Music the first day started at 3 p.m., with Chris Stuart and Backcountry. This is a San Diego area  band that I've seen a number of times in Parkfield, and one of the main attractions that convinced me to attend. Although their regular fiddler, Chris Ward, was absent, he was ably replaced by Megan Lynch, originally from California but now based in Nashville, where she plays with Pam Tillis and others.

All the groups the first day were ones I'd seen, and most were ones I was eager to see again, especially Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper. Chosen fiddle player of the year seven times, Michael is perhaps the hottest fiddler in bluegrass today, and always puts on a great show.

I also enjoyed another performance by Jonathan Reischman and the Jaybirds, who live in Canada and Northern California, and who I've now seen three times.

Several times in between sets there has been a band of teenage musicians playing as "the demo band," to show off several instruments that are being raffled off. Although they do only one song each time, this group could perform a full set on stage and would not be out of place. (This group eventually became Next Generation, and have performed at various festivals, including Parkfield.)

It's now Sunday afternoon, and another bluegrass festival has flown by quickly. Arriving around noon on Friday, only a few hours before the start of the show, made a difference; in the past, I have often arrived at festivals on Wednesday and had a free day before the music started.

The groups that are new to me, Bluegrass Brethren, Lonesome Otis, and the Tail Draggers, all played today. All are southern California bands, all competent but fairly average. Well above average were Special Consensus, Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper, and Chris Stuart and Backcountry, all of them groups that would make me think about attending any festival where they were playing.

A pleasant surprise is the continued progress of the kids in the Anderson Family. It's been close to four years since I first saw them, and they were not really ready for public performance back then. Now they are developing into above average singers and pickers, and I look forward to their next performance at the Hobbs Grove festival.

The location is very nice - it's about ten miles from the ocean, and we've had a good breeze most of the time. I sat in the sun most of the morning, and was not uncomfortable, although it was nice to move into the shade part of the time. The place is a lot like a fairgrounds, with various buildings containing exhibits, although the exhibits here are permanent, and the place is open all year. It was a long drive, but it was an excellent festival, and I'm glad I finally decided to check it out.

--Dick Estel, August 2010


(Photos open in a new window)

Chris Stuart & Backcountry Bluegrass Etc. John Reischman & the Jaybirds
Virtual Strangers Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper Faultline
Special Consensus Anderson Family Aimee & Paige
Bluegrass Brethren Lonesome Otis Tail Draggers
Kids on stage More kids Born Ready (the demo band)
Mike Tatar, festival chairman A look at the audience Equipment on display
More antique engines
Vintage oil well pump Not part of the museum, but property of a musician A true antique  - the Stanley Steamer
1928 Graham Brothers truck
was used on a local ranch
Summergrass T-Shirt Summergrass program cover

Related Links

Chris Stuart & Backcountry Bluegrass Etc. John Reischman and the Jaybirds
Virtual Strangers Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper Special Consensus
Anderson Family Bluegrass Brethren Lonesome Otis
Tail Draggers Antique Gas & Steam Engine Museum City of Vista
San Diego North County Bluegrass & Folk Club San Diego Bluegrass Society Summergrass Festival
US Highway 395 City of Adelanto    Next Generation

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