Author: Alvira, Marco

Is the Hobbs Grove Festival Still Happening?

The answer is no…or yes. Well, both answers are technically correct. The festival still occupies the last weekend of September and is still at the same beautiful grove. The name has reverted, however, to its original nomenclature: The Kings River Bluegrass Festival.

This is my second year co-directing this festival with Kelly Broyles. There are fewer anxiety attacks so far this year. Much of the festival preparation already seems old hat. Behind this beguiling calm countenance lies a certain uneasiness. Last year’s festival, by all accounts, was a smashing success. Hot bands. Good food. Beautiful night setting under the sparkly white lights and trees. Moreover, an environment that felt more akin to a backyard party with close friends and relatives. I’ve learned that in life, one can’t go back and recreate magical moments. The “magic” is spontaneous. Kelly and I are, nonetheless, responsible for making sure that the alchemy happens.

The ingredients for all this magic are simple:

1) Beautiful setting with plenty of space for camping— check.
-The kings River bottom land with its gorgeous orchards and Sierra Nevada looming in the background are gorgeous. The site itself is surrounded by trees and rustic buildings. This place could be in Tennessee or the Ozarks somewhere. We also feature a broad grassy field with shade tress for tenters and RV’s alike. And don’t forget, we now offer electrical hook-ups.

2) Good music—check.
-Evie Ladin and the Evil Diane (old time with an attitude…and clogging!)
-The Central Valley Boys (Yosef Tucker and Dave Gooding with a hard driving traditional bluegrass band)
-The Anderson Family (Did you know Paige arranged a guitar piece for Flatpicking Magazine?)
-The Get Down Boys (the hottest new band from L.A. playing proto bluegrass with drive and verve)
-Red Dog Ash (the best bluegrass band out of the northern San Joaquin Valley with a new CD!)
-Bean Creek ( I’ll fight anyone who says that Billy Pitron isn’t the best bluegrass singer in California!)
-Rock Ridge Bluegrass Band (John Schaefer’s in a new band from Chico. This band will have Dancing John doing a two-step in double time!)
-The Grasskickers (Bob Garcia and the boys have been playing the Fresno area for some time now. No surprises her--rock solid bluegrass. That’s why they’re so popular with the locals)
-Grassfire (another band of Fresno notables. After you hear them, you’ll be calling the central San Joaquin the bluegrass capitol of California)
-Uncle Ephus—(A fun loving area band playing traditional American tunes and old time. Featuring a real wash board.)
-The Kings River Gospelaires (veteran Valley gospel singers come together a few times a year for some of that old time religion.)
Groundspeed (Sam and Mildred Criswell –everybody’s adopted grandparents-play bluegrass …well…simply the way it was meant to be played. It simply doesn’t get any purer than when the Criswells play)
- And all this sound is engineered to perfection by Paul Knight.

Twelve bands spanning the range of old time to contemporary bluegrass—with a huge dose of the traditional driving sound. I can hardly wait. Oh ya, the third ingredient for a magical festival experience?

3) Well, that’s YOU! Our guests are the real magic. Check out the photo in the new CBA calendar available at Grass Valley. You’ll see a night scene with plenty of folks enjoying themselves under twinkling lights in a rustic grove. The campground picking goes on until all hours. No one wants to go to bed for fear of missing the next best jam. Almost all the bands are out there in the night, enjoying the finest hospitality you can find in our golden state.

For more information go to . You’ll find every thing you need to know about the Kings River festival there. If you need more specific information, you’ll find our respective e-mail addresses on the web site. Our region is often called the Appalachia of the west. I don’t know how to take that comment sometimes. Considering the authentic bluegrass, old time, and gospel at the Kings River Bluegrass Festival, I guess that would have to be a compliment.

Posted:  5/1/2011

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