On the Air: No Father’s Day Festival, but plenty of live bluegrass on KVMR this weekend | TheUnion.com
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On the Air: No Father’s Day Festival, but plenty of live bluegrass on KVMR this weekend

Steve Baker
Special to The Union
KVMR live broadcast producer Eric Rice emcees the main stage at a recent Father's Day Weekend Bluegrass Festival. While there is no festival this summer, KVMR will still be broadcasting plenty of live bluegrass fstival highlights this Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., plus a virtual live performances by Tim O' Brien, Laurie Lewis, Molly Tuttle and others on "Turn Your Radio Online: The Really Big Show" Saturday from 4 p.m. to 9.
PHOTO BY JOHN TABER

KNOW & HEAR

WHO: KVMR 89.5 Community Radio

WHAT: “Best Of The Father’s Day Bluegrass Festival” featuring favorite and classic live performances, and CBA’s “Turn Your Radio On: The Really Big Show,” a virtual festival with live performances by Tim O’Brien, Molly Tuttle, The Lonesome River Band and other national and California acts

WHEN: “Best Of Festival” Friday and Saturday, June 19-20, 10 a.m to 4 p.m.; “Turn Your Radio On” Saturday 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.

WHERE: 89.5 FM, Truckee 105.1 FM, kvmr.org streaming

When it’s Father’s Day Weekend, that’s always meant live bluegrass on KVMR 89.5 FM for some 35 consecutive years.

And don’t worry, it still does, even if the 45th annual California Bluegrass Association’s music festival has gone the way of almost every pandemic music event: postponed until 2021.

You see, volunteer KVMR broadcaster Eric Rice, longtime host of Saturday morning’s “County Line Bluegrass,” has only been one place on Father’s Day weekend all those years, and that’s producing the Nevada City community radio station’s yearly live remote broadcast of the CBA festival at the Nevada County Fairgrounds.

So Rice and fellow broadcasters John Adams and Dennis Brunnenmeyer are putting together a bluegrass blowout special this Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (89.5 FM, 105.1 FM Truckee, kvmr.org streaming) featuring favorite and classic live Father’s Day festival performances. Heck, they’ve only got, yup, 35 years of broadcasts from which to choose.

Not only that, but KVMR will simulcast a special CBA virtual festival of live bluegrass this Saturday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. called “Turn Your Radio Online: The Really Big Show,” featuring Tim O’Brien, Molly Tuttle, Laurie Lewis, The Lonesome River Band, AJ Lee and Blue Summit, The Bucking Mules and other national and California artists. It’s the last in a series of online shows, only KVMR will air it over-the-air at 89.5 FM in honor of the Father’s Day Festival anniversary.

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STRANGE SUMMER

That’s the good news in the strangest of summers for Rice and other live music fans.

“It’s so weird without any festivals,” says Rice. “I’m still missing and wanting Strawberry,” where Rice is head electrician as well as a live broadcast producer.

That’s the Strawberry Spring Music Festival, now held at the local Fairgrounds as well, except the Memorial Day weekend event was among the first to be postponed. Then bluegrass, Kate Wolf, High Sierra, Worldfest, and later the KVMR Celtic Festival at the end of the festival season in late September.

“My whole summer has all these festivals setting my timing,” Rice explains. “This year, it all goes bang, bang, bang and each festival is gone.”

“I don’t know when we’ll be able to do festivals again.”

But he does know how he got the gumption to undertake the station’s first live remote Father’s Day bluegrass festival broadcast in 1985.

He was a new KVMR bluegrass program host at the 1984 festival, and the headliners were the Seldom Scene. In the audience was Herb Pedersen, already a veteran roots singer/songwriter, and author of “Wait A Minute,” a Seldom Scene favorite.

They invited Herb onstage to do a five-part harmony of the song.

“When I heard that harmony and song, I just said that this (festival) has got to be broadcast live on KVMR period,” recalls Rice. “It drew me to spend all the energy I could to make a remote broadcast happen.”

And he and others raised the money and got the equipment to do exactly that.

DISCOVERS BLUEGRASS

But don’t think that Rice was always a bluegrass fan. That came in the early ‘70s.

“I was more of a (Grateful) Dead head in the day,” he remembers. “I went to see ‘Old And In The Way’ at the Boarding House in San Francisco because Jerry Garcia was in the band and I discovered bluegrass musicians like David Grisman and Peter Rowan.”

Later, he ran into New Grass Revival, a progressive bluegrass band founded in 1971 that included now-Rice favorite Sam Bush among others and, well, “that was it,” according to Rice.

Bring on the bluegrass, it’s Father’s Day Weekend on KVMR.

On The Air is a regular Prospector feature detailing the life and times of Nevada City community radio station KVMR 89.5 FM and its various other incarnations at 105.7 FM, streaming kvmrx.org and its website kvmr.org with most of the200 volunteer broadcasters currently providing pre-produced homemade programming, mixed with classic shows from the station’s archives. While the station offices have been closed during the pandemic, local music programming, news and public affairs continues 24/7.


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