North Country Blue to play Wild Eye Pub Sunday |

North Country Blue to play Wild Eye Pub Sunday

Submitted to Prospector


WHO: North Country Blue

WHAT: Young bluegrass band

WHEN: Sunday, Oct. 27 at 6 p.m.

WHERE: Wild Eye Pub, at 535 Mill Street in Grass Valley


North Country Blue, an exciting young bluegrass band that emerged from the Nevada County Fairgrounds’ annual Father’s Day Festivals, will make its first concert appearance in the region on Sunday, Oct. 27, at the Wild Eye Pub, at 535 Mill Street in Grass Valley. NCB’s performance at the Pub will begin at 6 p.m., and is part of the pub’s “Last Sunday” music series. Tickets are $8, and advance purchase is highly recommended.

The band (, which formed in 2017 as a group of four young women (just 13 and 14 years old at the time), quickly captured the attention of bluegrass fans throughout the state, with sold-out shows in venues as far afield as Southern California, Sacramento and Berkeley. The band has traveled out of state as well, performing in Nevada and, most recently, North Carolina, at the International Bluegrass Music Association’s annual convention.

All five of North Country Blue’s current members came up through the ranks of the California Bluegrass Association’s youth programs, which have helped hundreds of youngsters get their start in bluegrass at the annual Father’s Day Festival at the fairgrounds. Two of the band’s members, guitarist John Gooding, of Vacaville, and fiddler Tessa Schwartz, of Berkeley, first came to the festival with their families when they were infants and have not missed a single festival since. “John and I were in the tiny tots program back then, making tie-dyed shirts and stuff like that,” said Tessa. “Now we play together on the festival stages in this band, which is very cool.”

The other band members – mandolinist Ida Winfree, of Turlock, bassist Megan January, of Roseville, and banjoist Christine Wilhoyte, of Chico – also starting attending the festival at a young age with their families and make the pilgrimage to the tall pines every June. “We would never miss it,” said Ida about the festival. “It’s one of my favorite weeks of the whole year.”

Four of North Country Blue’s members are still in high school, with Christine Wilhoyte, a senior at Chico State, the lone adult in the group. She and John Gooding joined the band this past summer and bring to the unit exemplary traditional bluegrass guitar and banjo skills.

While “NCB,” as the band sometimes calls itself, can certainly play traditional bluegrass – and their sets always include a number of such tunes – the band also features some surprisingly sophisticated original songs as well as covers of more “out-of-the-box” songs, such as Anais Mitchell’s “Any Way the Wind Blows,” which is on their outstanding full-length CD.

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