Pickin’ some fine tunes: Bluegrass Festival a spectacle for Father’s Day weekend in Nevada County | TheUnion.com

Pickin’ some fine tunes: Bluegrass Festival a spectacle for Father’s Day weekend in Nevada County

Hollie Grimaldi Flores
Special to The Prospector
The California Bluegrass Association has put much effort into programs for young musicians.
Submitted photo


WHAT: 44th Annual Fathers Day Bluegrass Festival

WHEN: June 13-16, 2019

WHERE: Nevada County Fairgrounds

HOW: http://fathersdayfestival.com

For nearly as long as there has been a Father’s Day Bluegrass Festival, Dale Ann Bradley has been playing bluegrass music.

The five-time International Bluegrass Music Association Female Vocalist of the Year will be one of the headlining acts this year, as part of her collaborative Grammy nominated band, Sister Sadie.

But Bradley has been to Grass Valley before.

“I love everything about it,” she said. “There are so many choices in music and the fans are so attentive and knowledgeable and it is such a beautiful place. That is what makes me want to come back.”

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She said playing with Sister Sadie has been a dream and a great deal of fun.

“We had known each other for about 25 years but a woman who used to book The Station Inn in Nashville thought these five women need to play together and booked a show with all of us and within a week we were getting calls for bookings,” Bradley said. “It has worked well for us, so we decided to record a few songs.”

The Grammy nominated band is made up of Bradley, Tina Adair, Deanie Richardson and Gena Britt. They play a variety of bluegrass and country while Dale Ann has also just released a solo album, “The Hard Way,” which features a variety of original music as well as cover tunes including Journey’s “Wheel in the Sky.”

Her soothing, melodic voice is not to be missed.

In addition to Sister Sadie, the line up at the California Bluegrass Association’s 44th Father’s Day Bluegrass Festival includes a wide variety of music, being old time, bluegrass, and gospel music.

Director of Operations and Webmaster for the California Bluegrass Association Rick Cornish missed the very first jubilee, but for 43 years has been involved in bringing the festival to life as organizer, board member or some other capacity. Though officially retired from the board, Cornish continues to represent the organization and promote the phenomenal festival that is now one of the most well known and popular Bluegrass Festivals in the West.

Cornish said the first time he heard bluegrass, he was completely blown away and has been drawn to it ever since.

“There is something about the music that fills a hole in certain people,” Cornish said. “It has gotten a following of people who have for whatever reason, I believe it is neurological — there is a hole in their brain that needs this kind of music. The first time I heard bluegrass, it was like a brick hit the side of my head. It was a visceral, physical reaction. I assure you that most people who love the music, feel the same way.”

For bluegrass fans, the festival offers many well-known leaders of the genre making it a challenge in choosing who to see. Luckily, many of the bands are scheduled to perform multiple dates.

Long established bands as well as some newcomers play on several stages over three days. This year, headliners include Joe Mullens and the Radio Ramblers, Po’ Ramblin’ Boys, Lonely Heartstrings Band, and the aforementioned Sister Sadie among others. A complete line up and schedule is available at http://www.fathersdayfestival.com.

Cornish said the association works to preserve, protect, and promote bluegrass, old time, and gospel music, but they also encourage and educate young performers. To that end, the 2019 California Bluegrass Association Emerging Artist, Carolina Blue, will also be taking the stage.

The association also offers a Music Camp, which runs prior to the opening of the actual festival, and a Youth Academy (sold out) which runs through the duration of the event. Throughout the weekend, there are pickers circles and square dance performances.

The addition of Vern’s Stage and performances on the Pioneer Stage have acts playing when the Main Stage is dark for meal breaks and set changes. Vern’s stage is named after WWII Veteran Vern Williams, who Cornish assures is the undisputed Father of California Bluegrass.

The two stages feature music nearly nonstop. Many of the main stage performers will take a turn on the smaller stage for a much more intimate experience, but it also gives people the opportunity to hear different kinds of music they would not normally have a chance to hear.

The smaller stages are filled with local and regional bands who bring their own following. These bands benefit from being able to add an appearance at the Father’s Day Festival to their resume.

“It’s the largest bluegrass festival on the West Coast,” Cornish said. “We have about 6,000 people who will attend. It is certainly the best known in the world of bluegrass. Every bluegrass player in the country knows about the Father’s Day Festival.”

Camping is encouraged and welcome and Cornish says about 75% of attendees will camp and well over half of them are pickers or singers as well so even after the organized music stops for the day, groups get together informally to make music of their own.

Dale Ann Bradley concluded ““Grass Valley’s Father’s Day Festival is the festival to attend if you have never been to bluegrass before you are going to get different expressions of bluegrass and if you love bluegrass, you will hear all kinds. This is the one to attend.”

Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire. She can be reached at holliesallwrite@gmail.com.

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