Author: Little, Cameron

Two Scoops of Bluegrass with Extra Toppings

In the world of ice cream flavors, where Wintergrass is a ”Psychedelic Rainbow Buzz”, and Father’s Day Festival a “Vanilla Vern’s and Cherries Jubilee”, and Bower’s Mansion a “Monroe Marmelade Mudslide”, I’d have to say that Susanville Bluegrass Festival has got to be a “Red, White, and Jamberry Swirl“.

Promoters Gene and Cynthia Bach scoop up a ton of good music, good food, and good times. It’s a small town atmosphere here and they make you feel right at home. And a top-notch lineup is just the beginning. That’s like adding cherries to your ice cream.

Whether you sit on a picnic blanket, in your folding chair, or on the designated dog area benches (which are popular with lots of non-dog people, too), there’s plenty of shade and cool grass, the green kind AND the blue kind. Every seat is a great seat and John Senior Sound keeps the music true blue (grass). This would be the crumbled walnuts addition to the cone.

Dogs are welcome at this festival, and talk about bluegrass ambassadors! The main lane is car-free during the festival and is the perfect place for a stroll with your pooch. Germany takes the prize for most dogs represented, with herds of Dachshunds, Schnauzers, and a couple of shepherds to fill out the ranks. There are Scottish Terriers, and some good old American mutts. Yorkies from England, Labradors from, well, Labrador, I guess. No, really they’re actually from Canada pretty much. Chihuahuas from Mexico, Border Collies from Great Britain. And I’ll let you figure out where Australian Shepherds are from. And it’s not Australia either. But Australian Cattle Dogs are. My dog Charlotte is a Great Pyrenees so I guess she could represent France and Spain. Maybe she’d win the prize after all, because pound for pound she outweighs a couple herds of Dachshunds any day. Dogs are like adding shredded coconut to your cone.

Saturday night, when the temperatures tilt toward the chilly, especially if all you brought was your tent, guitar, and a pair of flip flops, you can find Gene opening side buildings so we all have a warm place to jam. Imagine: every late night and early morning jam has a cozy place to be. That’s like heating up a molten lava brownie to have on the side. Thanks Gene.

Then we have the late, late night jam, spearheaded by Yoseff Tucker (Central Valley Boys) in the ladies bathroom. I am not kidding. It’s because the acoustics are really fantastic in there. Honest. Of course, this is the first instance where mankind has been admitted to the “Holy of Holies”, and we look around in drop-jawed wonder at the gleaming porcelain, the sparkling chrome, and the...CLEAN FLOORS. No wonder the women spend so much time in here. The jam is crazy good, of course, with the Windy Hill guys joining us later on. It seems that word gets around quick when you’re jamming in a ladies bathroom. This event would be the Gummy Bears topping. Either that or those little chocolate covered teddy bear graham thingys. Those are good, too.

As I crawl to my cot and drift into an early morning coma, I can still hear the raucous partying far down the main lane, which somehow blends nicely into the old standards being played in the jam room nearby. Them are some pretty good confetti sprinkles right there.

All kinds of creative types are drawn to festivals, and somewhere or other it was wisely decided to make some room for quilters. They’ve got their very own “Gal Cave” environment here: Walk into the coolness and you know straight up that you’re in a rarefied atmosphere, with high-end machines purring along like Ferraris, creative juices saturating the air, with a relaxed companionable chatting or even some quietude on the side. It reminds me of a pit stop without the burning brake pad fumes. Sort of like chocolate dipping your cone.

Late on Sunday while packing up, between the hugs and sit-down chats and last ditch jamming, one of our camp neighbors, who is a first time attendee, effused, “I just LOVE this festival! It’s just like a Bluegrass Mayberry!!” And that’s real true. It’s easy to imagine Andy Griffith pulling up a spare lawn chair, and sparking the jam with a Dillards version of “Old Joe Clark”. Yep, this would be the “Vanilla and Apple Pie RFD” flavor scoop.

So folks, find yourself a festival, grab your guitar and go. Or just take your spunky self. And a pal. And maybe your dog. And don’t be shy about adding those toppings.

(Cameron Little is sixteen year-old bluegrass musician who lives on a remote homestead in the Sierra near Grass Valley, CA. He has just discovered the Ben and Jerry’s “Willie Nelson’s Country Peach Cobbler” ice cream flavor.)

Posted:  7/21/2012

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