Bluegrass rings out at Bowers

At 9 a.m. Saturday as the morning sun began drying the grass at Bowers Mansion, Rick and Ron James of Carson City mounted a temporary stage and in the still morning air began playing perhaps America's most loved folk song, "Amazing Grace," on their bagpipes.

It was a memorable beginning to a day of a whole lot of guitar and banjo picking, bass plucking, violin bowing and close harmony singing as the Northern Nevada Bluegrass Association hosted its 16th annual festival.

A crowd of more than 300 bluegrass and traditional Bowers Mansion "Back Porch Music" lovers gathered on the mansion lawn on folding chairs, blankets or the grass to enjoy a parade of music from the past as modern as today.

There was more than just music in the air. There was a yodeling workshop, a gathering on learning to play the musical saw and, for the kids, a Dino Surf tent that kept young ones tumbling about in delight. There was food from Red's Old 395 Grill in Carson City, T-shirts from all over, wood carvings and soft drinks.

But it was chiefly a day devoted to bluegrass and its kin. And it was easy to hear touches of Irish and Scottish in the traditional music of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

It was a long list of devoted musicians on stage, from the rousing Bluegrass Association band to Gael Force, with haunting laments and lively jigs. All were introduced by R.T. Carlyle of the Virginia City Gunslingers. In full Western garb, he was joined by Marti Green (Miss Kitty), Steve Gallagher (Scrap Iron) and Kelly Jeffers (Miss Ivy) from the Gunslingers.

Following Gael Force was Too Tall for Our Hair, a comedy group, leading to Girls & Boys Club offering traditional music. Probably the best known group on stage was the Comstock Cowboys taking listeners back to the open range.

Leland Smith and Charlie Black presented fun yodeling and musical saw playing, a unique musical instrument largely out of fashion today.

Stone Creek, up from Sacramento, offered lusty vocals and brought on Old Time Confusion, which obviously offered old time rhythm and style.

The Grasshoppers hit the bluegrass trail with a dynamic red-haired singer pounding a red bass fiddle.

The concert closed with the Doodoo Wah offering wry looks at life in a musical context.

The Bluegrass Association is a nonprofit organization that stages benefits for many local and national charities. For information call Vicki Hass, 775-882-6013.


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