Author: Varner, Mark

River City, Portland
Dear friends,

I havenít gotten the chance to welcome readers to our site for a couple of weeks. Hey everybody! Itís been a busy couple of weeks.

The first weekend of 2008 my son Marty and I went up to Portland for the 4th annual River City Bluegrass Festival. It was a really fun event and the feeling of just being at a festival again after months of waiting was a real joy. Itís kind of our natural habitat.

Chuck and Chris Palmer put this show on and they really do a fine job. The festival is held in the enormous Portland Convention Center. The festival itself does not have that large of a footprint in this huge facility (there are about forty five Starbucks located inside the Convention Center). Itís tucked at one end of the building. At first I thought we would get bored being in this relatively small area for three days. There were jamming rooms, a lobby stage, a luthier area, a general vendor area and the main stage area. But that never happened because we just had too much fun. The music was enough in itself, but we had fun catching up with festival friends from hither and yon and did some jamming as well.

The music was wonderful and I wonít try and cover the whole festivalís roster of talent. High points were the new Dan Tyminski Band (and yes, they sang Man of Constant Sorrow to big applause) and the Seldom Scene. Doyle was there with his new band and they rocked. Rhonda was there with new guitarist Darrell Webb who did a fantastic job. Hunter was back east after being in a car wreck (his back got hurt) and Ron Stewart sat in. The Rage was raging! We saw our family friends, Jackstraw and did some picking with them. The Jaybirds were awesome. So much talent packed into the festival!

The attendance was very good and they posted record numbers of attendees. Like Wintergrass, River City is not 100% bluegrass, but there was certainly enough to recharge my batteries. Iíd really recommend this festival to all Californianos. Weíll have a full festival review in the February issue of the Bluegrass Breakdown.

Coming up locally: the SFBOT in San Francisco. Check out the line up at
Posted:  1/15/2008

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