Author: Evans, Bill

February Brings An Abundance of Bluegrass to California

Weíve got it so lucky here in northern California this time of year! In other parts of the country, live bluegrass becomes scarcer in the winter months but here in California, bluegrass music is as abundant and alive as the thick, deep green winter grasses on the February hills of Marin County. Between the San Francisco Old-Time and Bluegrass Festival, the CBA Winter Music Camp and regional tours in February by national acts Dry Branch Fire Squad and Grasstowne, among others, thereís no excuse to not get a full dose of the music over the next several weeks.

The 12th Annual San Francisco Bluegrass and Old-Time Festival starts its engines on February 11, with shows scheduled in San Francisco and Berkeley through February 20 in various San Francisco and East Bay clubs and concert venues (info at There is an emphasis on younger bands at this event, which features a wildly diverse palette of acoustic styles that stretch the boundaries of bluegrass and old-time music (and, to set the record straight, thereís also a great deal of dyed-in-the-wool real old-time and bluegrass as well!). Youíll get the chance to hear not only some of the best northern California groups but you can experience bands which hail from all over the United States, including the Bee Eaters (Boston area), Jackstraw (Portland, OR), and Dry Branch Fire Squad (Colorado and Ohio).

Dry Branch Fire Squad has several additional dates scheduled on their annual California trip, so if you canít catch their SFBOTMF appearance at the Freight on Wednesday, February 16, you can also find them in Willits (Friday, 2/11), Redding (Saturday, 2/12), Winters (Sunday, 2/13) and Felton (2/15). You can find complete tour info at

Iím very fortunate to be involved in two SFBOTMF shows this year: catch me with Waybacks guitarist James Nash and special guests in the world debut of our new band the NashVillians at St. Cyprianís Episcopal Church on a bill with Nell Robinson and John Reischman and the Jaybirds on Friday, February 11. Iím also part of another great, once-in-a-lifetime musical event: a Flatt and Scruggs Tribute Concert featuring Kathy Kallick, Del Williams, Tom Rozum, David Thom and ten other northern California bluegrass greats on Tuesday, February 15th at the Freight and Salvage (info at

This show is a lifelong dream come true for me, bringing together an incredible group of musicians to honor the musical legacy of Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys. You can also catch this Tribute concert on Saturday, February 12th in Mountain View for the Redwood Bluegrass Associates (info at

The 2nd Annual CBA Winter Music Camp is the crown jewel of events ending the month of February. The Marin County venue of Walker Creek Ranch provides the perfect backdrop for a music camp and the food is among the best of any camp in the nation. Classes are almost full but there are still a few openings left. Visit the Music Camp page at for more info. Iíll be teaching an advanced banjo class at this yearís event - a first of its kind, hopefully opening the doors for more advanced classes in camps to come. Last year, two of our three days were sunny with temperatures in the mid-60ís. Iím keeping my fingers crossed for equally good weather this year.

Finally, you can blow your way into March at the end of February by catching mandolin virtuoso Alan Bibey, Steve Gulley and the rest of the band Grasstowne in Orangevale (2/25), Morgan Hill (2/26) and Felton (2/27). These guys are some of the best in the business and are not to be missed under any circumstances!

Finally, one more plug: Iím staring a new ďBangers & GrassĒ invitational jam at the Kensington Circus Pub this month in Kensington (between El Cerrito and Berkeley in the East Bay). I invite those of you in the neighborhood to join me, Jim Nunally, Chad Manning, Tom Bekeny and Steve Pottier as we play some of our favorite tunes in a relaxed, jam-like setting on Thursday, February 17th from 8 to 10 p.m. Admission is free and the beer and English pub fare canít be matched. More info at

Thanks for your continued support of the music and I hope to see you at one of these shows in February!

All the best,

Bill Evans

Posted:  1/28/2011

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