Dad, and the rest of the family, can enjoy this weekend’s bluegrass festival |

Dad, and the rest of the family, can enjoy this weekend’s bluegrass festival

Some of the best bluegrass music on the planet will be wafting through the pines of the Nevada County Fairgrounds this weekend as the California Bluegrass Association presents its 31st Annual Father’s Day Weekend Bluegrass Festival today through Sunday.

The legendary Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver; 2005 International Bluegrass Music Association male vocalist of the year Larry Sparks; and James King, often called the most soulful singer in bluegrass, are among the headliners. In addition, the hot young Virginia band King Wilkie, the Larry Stephenson Band, the Lonesome River Band and Audie Blaylock and Redline will grace the Grass Valley stage.

Fans of old-time string band music will enjoy three groups playing music of the pre-bluegrass era: the all-female Uncle Earl, plus the Biscuit Burners and the Stringdusters. Five regional bands will appear as a part of the CBA’s California Showcase. They are the Alhambra Valley Band, Homespun Rowdy, Mountain Laurel, the Stairwell Sisters and the David Thom Band.

The festival is a family-friendly event. Children who play bluegrass instruments (even those who are just learning) are invited to join the Kids on Bluegrass, a large group that performs on stage Friday and Saturday afternoons. All children will enjoy a daily kids program including crafts, games, songs and performances by bands that specialize in entertaining youngsters 12 and under.

The fairgrounds becomes a small, music-centered city during the festival, with scores of motor homes, camper trucks and a large tent-camping area. When the main stage shuts down at 11 p.m., these “neighborhoods” sprout impromptu bands that play until the wee hours of the morning.

Many kinds of food, from funnel cakes to Asian to Polish dogs to gourmet coffee are offered near the main stage area, along with booths selling musical supplies, crafts, clothing and hats. No alcohol is sold on-site. One large fairgrounds’ building is full of master instrument makers, selling and repairing guitars, banjos, mandolins and fiddles.

The music on stage runs from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m., Thursday through Saturday, and from 8 a.m. to 6:40 p.m. on Sunday.


Retired San Francisco journalist and editor George Martin is a banjo player with the Prairie Rose Band in the Bay Area and served on the CBA board of directors, 1999-2001.

Band Performance Schedule


10 a.m. The David Thom Band

10:55 Teton Divide

11:50 Uncle Earl

12:35 p.m. Lunch and Workshops

2:05 The Biscuit Burners

3:00 King Wilkie

3:55 Music Camp All Stars

4:50 Homespun Rowdy

5:35 Dinner and Workshops

7:30 The Biscuit Burners

8:25 Larry Sparks and the Lonesome Ramblers

9:20 Uncle Earl

10:15 King Wilkie


10 a.m. The Stairwell Sisters

10:55 Audie Blaylock & Redline

11:50 Larry Sparks and the Lonesome Ramblers

12:35 p.m. Lunch and Workshops

2:25 The Biscuit Burners

3:20 Kids on Bluegrass

4:15 Uncle Earl

5:10 The Barbary Coast Cloggers

5:40 Dinner and Workshops

7:30 Larry Sparks and the Lonesome Ramblers

8:25 King Wilkie

9:20 Audie Blaylock & Redline

10:15 The Larry Stephenson Band


10 a.m. The Stringdusters

10:55 The Larry Stephenson Band

11:40 Lonesome River Band

12:35 p.m. Lunch and Workshops

1:40 Alhambra Valley Band

2:35 Audie Blaylock & Redline

3:30 Kids on Bluegrass

4:25 Board Introductions

4:45 The Barbary Coast Cloggers

5:25 The Stringdusters

6:10 Dinner and Workshops

7:10 The Larry Stephenson Band

8:05 Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver

9:00 Award Presentations

9:20 The James King Band

10:15 Lonesome River Band


8 a.m. Chapel on the Children’s Stage

Hosted by Jan and LeRoy McNees

Gospel Show

10:00 The James King Band

11:00 Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver

Noon Lunch and Workshops

1:15 Mountain Laurel

2:10 Lonesome River Band

3:05 The Stringdusters

4:00 Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver

4:55 The James King Band

WHAT: 31st annual Fathers Day Weekend Bluegrass Festival

WHEN: Today through Sunday

WHERE: Nevada County Fairgrounds, 11228 McCourtney Road, Grass Valley.

ADMISSION: Four-day festival tickets (including camping) are $105 for adults, $53 for teens 13-18, and free for children 12 and under. Daily tickets are $25 today, $30 Friday, $35 Saturday and $25 Sunday. Look for single-day discount coupons printed in The Union.

INFORMATION: 272-7553 or

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