Author: Campbell, Bruce

Great Moments in Bakersfield History

1858 – Area settled, and named (modestly) by Colonel Thomas Baker, who allowed weary settlers to rest in his fields.

1873 – Bakersfield incorporated as a city.

1874 – JD Rhynes born on the future site of the Crystal Palace

1925 – Rose Maddox born – not in Bakersfield

1937 – Merle Haggard born in Oildale, which is practically Bakersfield

1943 – Texan Alvis Edgar Owens drives his truck through Bakersfield, and makes two momentous decisions. One, he changed his name to “Buck” because of the antlers affixed to the hood of his truck. Secondly, he decided to move there. Also, Craig Wilson is born in the boxcar next to Buck Owens’ house.

1945 – Craig Wilson’s first words: “Lloyd Loar” are uttered. No one knew at the time what this meant.

1953 – Nothing happened. Literally. You can look it up. Absolutely nothing happened in Bakersfield in 1953.

2004 – Supergrass Festival makes its debut. Bakersfield’s economy is invigorated by the influx of big-spending bluegrass fans from all over the country. The mayor (Bosephus Baker) declares the CBA to be honorary Rotarians and gives Carl Pagter and Jake

Quesenberry the keys to the city. Pandemonium erupts and over the next 16 months, fully 40% of male babies (and 24% of female babies) born in Bakersfield are named “Carl” or “Jake”. There is much kissing in the streets of Bakersfield.

2005 – Supergrass rides again. 500,000 fans pack into the Holiday Inn, and Wavy Gravy exclaims from the stage “What I have in mind, man, is breakfast for half a million, man!” Cars line highway 101 for miles and on day 3, the fences are torn down and it’s a free festival. Arlo Guthrie is a big hit, but CBA members complain that The Who were too loud and said “What’s up with them smashing their instruments?”

2006 – Supergrass one more time. Steve Jobs bankrolls the event and acts perform on 17 stages within the Holiday Inn. The promoters got a little too eclectic and double-bills such as Ricky Skaggs opening for Deep Purple, U2 with The Wilders and The Alhambra Valley Band sharing the stage with Pat Benatar drove many fans out to the parking lots to jam. Within the sweaty, crowded confines of the stages in the Holiday Inn, it is reported that two babies were born, dozens fainted from exhaustion and one man became convinced he was Pauly Shore (he wasn’t). The event, frankly had just grown too big. One happy note: Dave Gooding, who had gone missing during the 2007 Supergrass, was found by a member of the Holiday Inn’s housekeeping staff at the 2009 event.

2008 – The Great 48 Annual Jam Session is born. Many bluegrass pickers loved the Supergrass Festival’s locale and time of year, but preferred an informal jam to a full blown festival, and out of this demand, the yearly jam dubbed “the Great 48” was born. The Doubletree Hotel, seeing a way to boost occupancy at a time when travelers through The Town that Buck Built are few, jump at the chance to offer an attractive rate to bluegrass folks. Shortly thereafter, they discovered that the pickers intended to pick all night long, and this caused much turnover on their staff, but they quickly brought on people who could stand banjo music for 12+ hours at a stretch.

2012 – The Great 48 adds more entertaining facets. The nonstop jamming continues, of course, but workshops, a band scramble and pre-jam concert are added. Bakersfield residents, previously shell-shocked by the Supergrass Festivals, embrace the bluegrass fans as their own, and community organizations such as the Rotarians, Lions, Tiger and Bears donate time and money for the event. The Great 48 enters a general “era of good feeling”, and many chakras are positively affected by the interaction between bluegrass pickers and the locals.

2014 – The Great 48 continues – the Era of Good Feeling still persists – this year’s event is THIS weekend (January 9-12th) at the Double Tree (he Bakersfield DoubleTree hotel is conveniently located, at: 3100 Camino Del Rio Court, Bakersfield, CA 93308 (near the junction of SR-99 and SR-58). Just click on the link for more info!

Posted:  1/8/2014

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