Friday, February 5, 2010

Temecula Bluegrass Festival March 19-21 Offers Free Concerts, Jams, Workshops & More

Alan Munde Gazette will highlight the Old Town Temecula Bluegrass Festival March 20 and 21. Bandleader Munde’s long, rich history in the bluegrass community has solidified him as the one the world’s foremost five-string banjo players. He brings his Gazette band of Elliott Rogers-Guitar/Vocal, Bill Honker-Bass/Vocal, Steve Smith-Mandolin/Vocal, and Nate Lee-Fiddle/Vocal. Gazette will play twice Saturday and Sunday of the event.

This is the tenth year for the Festival and organizers have added two free concerts Friday evening plus a jam session at Embassy Suites in Temecula from 5-7 p.m. Highway 138 will perform from 7-9 at Sweet Lumpy’s and Old Haywire will perform at Palumbo’s from 6 to 8 p.m. Both restaurants are in Old Town and admission is free. The legendary Moonalice Band will perform in concert Friday, March 19 at the Old Town Temecula Community Theater at 8 p.m. Moonalice tickets are available at www.temeculatheater.org.

Munde and his band will headline Saturday and Sunday, playing once each day on the Town Square outdoor stage at Mercedes and Main Street. The band is also part of a three-act concert Saturday evening, 7 p.m., indoors at the Old Town Temecula Community Theater. On the same billing is Bluegrass Etc., and Silverado Bluegrass Festival. Tickets are $15 and $10 for balcony seats.

Munde made his mark in Bluegrass beginning in 1972 as a member of the Flying Burrito Brothers performing with Byron Berline. After a European tour, the Burritos split up and Munde joined Country Gazette, then consisting of Roger Bush on bass, Kenny Wertz on guitar, and fiddler Byron Berline. Later in 1977, Munde and mandolinist Sam Bush recorded "Together again for the first time" with Roland White, Curtis Burch and John Cowan (both members of legendary "Newgrass Revival" with Sam Bush).

Also performing outdoors are: Bluegrass Etc., Lonesome Otis, Even So, Sligo Rags, Hunt Family Bluegrass, Gone Tomorrow, the Silverado Bluegrass Band, Older than Dirt, Old Haywire, and Highway 76 Bluegrass Band. Bands perform on two stages from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. All outdoor concerts, workshops and jam sessions are free. Daytime concerts in the theater Saturday are also free.

Sunday features Bluegrass Brethren in a free gospel concert at the Old Town Temecula Community Theater, plus a 3 p.m. matinee featuring Alan Munde Gazette and Sligo Rags. This concert is $5 while concerts outdoors remain free.

Sligo Rags with entertaining and energetic fiddler Michael Kelly, Dublin percussionist Andy Reilly, and solid vocals are crowd favorites in Temecula with show-stopping renditions like “The Devil Went Down to Dublin.” An Irish band by nature, Sligo Rags injects their Irish overtones to create a unique brand of bluegrass, original tunes and unusual interpretations of popular rock, folk and bluegrass favorites.

Kelly, versatile fiddler and comedian, is well known in all musical circles where fiddle is played. His career spans decades, and includes forays into the country, newgrass, swing, and bebop realms.

Band leader David Burns plays guitar and banjo for a number of local Irish and bluegrass bands. Currently Burns is the banjo player in Heart Of 'Grass (headliners at the 2004 Topanga Bluegrass Festival), guitar player in acoustic jazz band Timbreline (recent nominees for Best Instrumental Band at the 2006 Southern California Music Awards), and also worked with The Mulligans, Ken O'Malley, Rob Williams of The Fenians, The Band of Rogues (Featuring Terry Casey, Rob Williams, and Chris Pierce of The Fenians) and many other local heavyweights in the Irish realm.

Reilly is one of the finest percussionists in all of California and spent eight years on the road with the original Dublin-based touring company of Riverdance. Now a Los Angeles resident, he plays all manner of percussion including the bodhrain giving the group a sound that sets them apart from all other bluegrass bands.

"Pickers" (Bluegrassers’ term for musicians) jam anywhere along the rustic streets of Old Town Temecula. Scheduled workshops on the mandolin, fiddle, guitar and banjo are held each day in the “Merc” at 42051 Main Street and are free.

“It’s the greatest part about a bluegrass festival. Fans are also musicians, some of them quite good and notable in the music world,” stated Melody Brunsting, organizer of the event. “We’ve had Sara Watkins of Nickel Creek show up on our stage just to jam with Bluegrass Etc. before.”

To visit the cultural district of Old Town Temecula take the 15 Freeway to Rancho California Road or Highway 79 south and follow the signs leading to Old Town Front Street. Public parking is free. RV parking is available in town for $30 for the weekend. Call (951) 678-0831 for RV reservations. For information call (951) 693-3952 or visit http://www.temeculacalifornia.com/