Feb 25, 2019
by Robert Feuer
As the clock strikes March, it’s again time for the annual Sonoma County Bluegrass & Folk Festival. The pickin’ and grinnin’ occurs Saturday, March 9 at the Sebastopol Community Center from one to nine p.m.
Local Americana duos Nina Gerber/Chris Webster, and Pam Delgado/ Jeri Jones of Blame Sally, together calling themselves the Duo Quartet, will pair up, then come together for guitar jams and harmonies.
Cowboy singer and horseman Mike Beck, who has toured with Ramblin’ Jack Elliott and Ian Tyson, will perform onstage and will join Nina’s brother, Scott Gerber, in leading a workshop; swapping songs while discussing and showing a film about the lives of working cowboys.
Jerry Wicentowski & the Wiseman Institute will play the bluegrass of Mac Wiseman, Wicentowski’s way of expressing gratitude for the inspiration he received from him.
Plaid Stranger, a duo focusing on the old-time genre, will perform onstage and their fiddler, Karen Celia Heil, will lead an old-time fiddle workshop where attendees who bring instruments will be able to jam.
The Bloomfield Bluegrass Band will show why they won the 2018 NorBay award as Best Acoustic Band. Nu-Blu is a husband and wife duo from the small town of Silver City, North Carolina.
“I think we’ve covered the bases,” says event organizer Mark Hogan, President of the Sonoma County Folk Society. He’s organized all but one of these 19 annual presentations.
Hogan, who grew up in Concord and moved to this county in 1972 to attend Sonoma State, became involved with the California Bluegrass Association and the Sonoma County Folk Society in the 1970s, “to promote and perpetuate the music,” he said in our interview. According to their new website (https://socofoso.com/), the latter’s mission is “to revive and promote knowledge of, an awareness of, an enjoyment of, and the performance of, both traditional and contemporary folk music.”
Hogan first heard the genre in the late 1960s. “I was a convert, I loved the sound. Bluegrass wasn’t indigenous to California, but there was an emerging subculture. It was like nothing I’d ever heard, like the anti-rock ‘n’roll.” He describes having to cut his long hair to attend festivals like the Brown County Jamboree in Bean Blossom, Indiana, where he saw all the first-generation bluegrass bands, and then getting “crap” from friends back home for his new look.
Throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s, Hogan (who plays mandolin and banjo), performed with bands like Done Gone and the Two Rock Ramblers, making a living which “kept me from making any serious decisions about life,” he said. For a time, he played six or seven nights a week, “from San Diego to Port Townshend to Reno.” He currently lives in Sebastopol, and until three years ago worked as a “maintenance guy” for the West Sonoma Union High School District.
For more festival info, contact Hogan at 707-479-5529 or
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