Summertime is a great time for attending Bluegrass festivals or hanging out with your friends around the evening fire. This year there was no shortage of talented musicians at the Susanville Bluegrass Festival & Music Camp. For years the festival has been organized and promoted by a true “down to earth’ guy by the name of Gene Bach. I have to say that he has done a fantastic job of bringing great performances to the stage, as well as activities like quilting, food vendors, and of course the music camp. This year there were classes on guitar, fiddle, mandolin, banjo, & upright bass. It was my pleasure to provide instruction for the vocal and songwriting workshops. Gene’s pretty wife Cynthia graced the class with her sweet harmony voice and bass playing too.
There was much to convey on Tuesday through Thursday. The students were like sponges ready to soak in all the bluegrass goodness we could pour out for them. On Friday they were all invited on stage during the regular show schedule to showcase what they had learned. Kind of a Hillbilly Recital! They all did a wonderful job and the crowd seemed pleased with their performance.
The Music Camp instructors were called on to crank out a few numbers as well. This amounted to a sort of “Band Scramble”. We did have the opportunity to run through the songs a couple of times, but when you perform with other people (mostly strangers) for the first time, you only hope there is at least some element of mind reading going on up there on stage. We had Rick Sparks on banjo, George Ireton – rhythm guitar, Charlie Edsall – lead guitar, Nick Dumas – mandolin, Shane Kalbach – fiddle, and Brian Clark on bass. Seems it all worked out okay and we had a fun time together. Click song titles below to see the videos. Feel free to share with your friends!
- Sweet Thing, an old Stanley Brothers tune written in 1947 and sung by yours truly.
- Clinch Mountain Backstep, an instrumental written by Dr. Ralph Stanley.
- I’ll Remember You Love In My Prayers, covered by George Ireton
The Bachs are planning another great festival in Yreka, CA on August 25-31, 2014. This one is called Siskiyou Strings & Threads, and will combine quilting with bluegrass. There is a great line up of talent and the fairgrounds in Yreka is a cool place to camp that time of year. I encourage you to plan your trip right now and figure to head on up (or down) I-5 to this high mountain venue for some high mountain music!