By: Johanna Lack
What do you do on a bright, sunny Saturday and you have two kids and a teenage Spanish exchange student to entertain? You go to the Temecula Bluegrass Festival. Because if Bluegrass isn’t true, blue American music then I don’t know what is. And if someone is visiting from another country, it’s always fun to introduce them to America’s roots.
The last time I went to the festival was four or five years ago, and though the music was fine, Old Town was almost a ghost town. I don’t know where everyone was back then, but they missed a lot of fun. However, my first clue that things had changed this year was that it took us a while to find parking. Old Town was packed! As we got out of the car, the sounds of music drifted our way. It was easy to find the source, which was the main stage at the new Temecula Town Square on Main and Mercedes Streets. The band Gone Tomorrow was in fine form playing their hard-driving Bluegrass, with a sampling of Texas Swing thrown in. We joined the nice sized crowd enjoying the show. After a while, we browsed the booths of merchants nearby, who were selling items that ranged from cowboy hats to marshmallow guns. We then headed to Front Street where various Bluegrass bands drew their own gatherings of admirers. Fortunately, one great band was right in front of The Country Store. We bought our root beer floats there and took them to the upper porch. Up on that vantage point we could relax in the shade, sip our tasty treats, and still listen to the music below. After that little break, a short walk took us to a Bluegrass duo in front of The Painted Garden. We then crossed the street and made our way over to The Edge, where a band of young boys were really jamming. Their youth caught our eye, but their talented musicianship made them stand out.
By then, our younger two kids had enough and were ready to go home. Us older folk weren’t happy about leaving so soon. Next year we’ll come back without the under-age set. That way, we can find a seat at a wine tasting room close to a jamming spot, order up a glass or two, and listen to Bluegrass to our heart’s content.
By: Crispin Courtenay
I threw my kids in the car to go to Old Town Temecula, and see just what the Blue Grass Festival was all about, I figured it must be something involving Kentucky, and probably country-music.
We strolled Front Street and checked out the numerous burlesque acts that were gathered on the sidewalks, and to be honest, they were a lot more fun for the kids, as the performers were free to interact.
Old Town was busier than usual for the weekend, which compared to a few years ago is like night and day. Street parking was hard to find, but those of us in the know parked in the brand new City Parking Garage, which is free, monitored and hassle-free. Work-shops and special sessions were abound, and it was clear that this weekend was as much for the musicians as the patrons.
Free shows were shown at the new City Hall Rotunda, and ran Friday to Sunday. Most of the acts were great, including a lot of R-Rated jokes that made me want to distract my brood. Funny as hell for Dad, not so cool for my young-ins.
The best part of the show was the Violins (Fiddles) for the kids to try their hand at…all of them had a blast, the noise, well I asked, and was told it takes about six months of screeching before the Fiddle starts to sound anything like music.
Strangely there was a stark lack of street vendors, and a great deal of empty spots. That was a missed opportunity for our local merchants, as most shows over the weekend were packed, and people had to walk for blocks—or forgo–the most basic staples. Also absent, especially for a community of wine growers, brewers and a distiller was any sort of tent or pavilion to imbibe a beverage and enjoy the show.
It was a great weekend overall, but there is definitely room for improvement and more community involvement next year.