We are fortunate in San Diego area to have two bluegrass organizations to serve this large area. While very much alike, North County Bluegrass & Folk Club and San Diego Bluegrass Society have some differences. NCBGC is a 501c3 and all volunteer organization and an affiliate of Folk Routes, Inc. Because of this charter they offer folk and acoustic related music from time to time at their gatherings. But for the most part, bluegrass is the main genre represented at their First Tuesday gatherings. NCBGC is primarily located in the northern part of San Diego County and have members north of that in cities like Temecula, Fallbrook, and Hemet which are outside of the county. Their First Tuesday Music Nights is legendary and is a free gathering at the Round Table Pizza in Escondido. They offer jamming outside and a featured band that performs from 8 to 9 PM.
Their board of directors is uber-hardworking and offer a variety of bluegrass and acoustic activities for the San Diego area fans. They are also very supportive of children’s music education, whether it be bluegrass or other acoustic styles. Frequently, local youngsters are given an open mic at their First Tuesday jam where they can get some stage time and please the audience with their chops. They also sponsor two campouts each year and those are usually held in April and November. At the campout, NCBFC will host music workshops, a potluck dinner and an evening concert or band scramble during the campout. Many bluegrass fans look forward to these two campouts and have a great time relaxing, seeing old friends and meeting new ones. Of course, there is always lots of jamming and talks around the campfire. The KOA in Chula Vista has been the prime spring campout location and it is superb with grassy campsites, firepits, cabins for those not camping, swimming pool, recreation room, and lots of activities right in the heart of town. The other location for the fall campouts recently has been in Borrego Springs. It’s a bit of a drive but so beautiful in the desert there. Temps are mild and lots of scenic vistas to take in along with the jamming and potlucks, etc.
And producing festivals is also something NCBFC has some history doing. From 1999-2002, they produced the Julian Bluegrass Festival up in Julian, Ca. That festival started many years ago and has been through some various changes over the last few years. In any event, NCBGC gained valuable experience during the three years they produced the Julian Festival. In 2003, they joined with SDBS to create and produce a new bluegrass festival in Vista, CA – Summergrass San Diego. This festival is in its 12th year and is held each August. It has grown steadily over the years and is now a premier event in the Southwest. Other events that NCBGC co-partners with SDBS are the Bluegrass Day at the Carlsbad Flower Fields each April where four or five local bands perform for the throngs of folks that come out to see the blooming flower fields there. It’s a great day of music, jamming, flowers and lots of activities at the Flower Fields location like tractor rides and the sweet pea maze. They also co-host the Bluegrass Day at the Del Mar Fair with SDBS each June. This is a complete day of music concerts by pros and locals along with youngsters, a band scramble and lots of jamming at the fairgrounds. It’s always a lot of fun and a great way to do outreach into our Southern California communities.
Their club newsletter, The Broadcast, is published 12 times a year. Filled with lots of information and feature articles, their newsletter is emailed electronically to their members. NCBGC was the first bluegrass association to try the electronic newsletter here in Southern California and after some bumps in the road, it looks like it is working well for their members. The Broadcast keeps their members in the know of new bands, concerts and appearances, music supply dealers, music teachers and the like. To see a sample copy of The Broadcast just go to their website. They also have begun a “band membership” where a bluegrass band can sign up as a band member of NCBGC and be listed on their website, newsletter, etc.
Interestingly, like SDBS, NCBGC also offers Household Memberships as opposed to individual memberships. They feel it is an easier way to have folks join as a household and is less work for the membership chairperson. Membership is $20 annually – really reasonable for a family! In addition to household memberships, NCBGC also offers band memberships are a reasonable fee as well. The current price can be found at the website at www.northcountybluegrass.org.
Northern San Diego County is well-represented by North County Bluegrass & Folk Club. A host of dedicated members always attend their monthly venue, campouts and their many other activities. It’s great to attend their jams, etc. and be a part of this vibrant and active club. Thanks for your hard work, NCBGC and I look forward to working with you in the future!