2nd Annual Bluegrass & Old West Fest builds on Ramona’s growing reputation as a music town
Continuing Ramona’s growing reputation as a music town, the 2nd Annual Ramona Bluegrass & Old West Fest is slated for April 30 and May 1, and co-chairs Chris Anderson and Rob Lewallen promise “one heck of a show.”
Groups such as Lighthouse, Lonesome Otis, Virtual Strangers and Chris Clarke will entertain, and day and night jams, fireside storytelling and impromptu break-out jams in the camping area also will be featured.
Event sponsors and vendors continue to be accepted, with details available from Martha Luce at 760-532-7196, or Sally Westbrook at 760-525-4888 or Susan Jaggi at 760-789-6173.
Ramona Bluegrass and Old West Fest will be at the Ramona Rodeo Grounds at 421 Aqua Lane April 30 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and May 1 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Overnight camping will be available.
It will be non-stop music, with bands playing for 50 minutes each hour and short “tween” sets on another stage. Cowboy poetry, storytelling, The Leatherman, and a variety of other acts will be on the “tween” stage.
In addition to attracting music lovers from Ramona, the region, and beyond, the two-day festival will generate a buzz about the 2011 Ramona Rodeo scheduled for May 19-21.
Lewallen and Anderson started sharing their ideas about a bluegrass festival about three years ago. Anderson had also been talking to Joani Georgeson with the Ramona Outdoor Community Center, and six weeks before last year’s festival, they said it was a go, Lewallen said.
“And there it was, six weeks later, a new Ramona tradition up and running and off the ground,” he said.
The bluegrass movement has been gaining momentum nationwide—maybe globally—the past few years, commented Lewallen.
Unbeknown to each other, Lewallen and Anderson, both Ramona residents, had been attending the annual Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.
“It probably didn’t hurt that both Chris and I have roots in Tennessee, both of us having attended the University of Tennessee, although several years apart,” said Lewallen.
The concept of the Ramona Bluegrass & Old West Fest is becoming known in the area, and people have told the organizers “Oh, I missed it last year but heard it was really great.”
With a lot more time than six weeks to get ready for this year’s festival, committee members are fine tuning specifics of the performance schedule and adding events, vendors and sponsors.
“We’ll be having a much larger focus on jamming, both spontaneous and organized,” said Lewallen. “For instance, this year we’ll have an interactive Jamming Stage where folks can play along with someone on stage who leads them in songs.”
The vision for a few years from now? Increase attendance each year, make Ramona a destination, and have enough seed money for a down payment on a national act, and, later, national acts, attracting even more people—and become the largest bluegrass festival in the county. Vista’s Summergrass festival in July now has the largest bluegrass gathering in the county, Lewallen said.
“We are somewhat unique in that we have the ‘Old West’ part, which is different than that of most all the other festivals,” he said. “We have the space at the ROCC to eventually think about having two concurrent live stages going at the same time. Art Thomsen (of the ROCC) is working on the old amphitheater area, which is a natural acoustically, so we could expand to doubling the musicians without extending the days,” although extending the festival to include Friday night is a possibility.
Free vendor space is available at the festival for registered nonprofit organizations.
“Join the fun times with your community, family, and friends,” said Martha Luce, in charge of event sponsors. “Enjoy bluegrass music, jam sessions—bring your instrument. There’ll be vendor booths, food, lemonade, beer and more.
See ramonabluegrass.com or ramonarodeo.com for additional information.
“See you there,” said Luce.
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