The Kids on Bluegrass Program began in approximately 1990 with the vision of one very gifted musician, Frank Solivan, II, who believed there should be a place on stage where kids could perform the Bluegrass, Old Time and Gospel music that they had grown up playing with their families. He approached his dad with this idea, then the California Bluegrass Association and finally the first Kids on Bluegrass show (also referred to as Kids on Stage) had its place on the main stage at the Fathers Day Festival in Grass Valley, Calif.
Now, 18 years later, Kids on Bluegrass continues to be a wonderful opportunity and learning experience for kids, and always a very entertaining part of the Fathers Day Festival line-up. The Kids on Bluegrass Program became the catalyst for many more activities and resources related to promoting our bluegrass kids.
Frank Solivan Sr. still leads the Kids on Bluegrass Program today, and I know I speak on behalf of the bluegrass community when I say thank you Frank for all you have done for our kids, the CBA, and the future of bluegrass. I would also like to give special thanks to Sharon and Steve Elliot and all the other volunteers that work behind the scenes for Kids on Bluegrass. And Sharon, the write ups you do about the kids are priceless, and keepsakes.
One of the activities that has recently emerged related to promoting our bluegrass kids
is to hear their bluegrass story. These stories are written by the kids, in their own words.
I would like to share a few stories with you today; The Anderson Family, and Aissa (A.J.) Lee.
The Anderson Family Anderson Family is a very talented Grass Valley California-based six-member family band and has been delighting audiences with traditional bluegrass music since early 2005.
The members include:
Paige Anderson – lead vocals, guitar,
Aimee Anderson – harmony vocals, fiddle,
Ethan Anderson – harmony vocals, mandolin,
Daisy Anderson – fiddle, vocals,
Christy Anderson (Mom) – Bass,
Mark Anderson (Dad) – Banjo.
The Anderson Family Band is rapidly gaining popularity and you will be hearing a lot more about them in the future. They are one of the great successes to emerge from Kids on Bluegrass.
Paige has already created a wonderful “Hooked on Bluegrass” story which you can view @ Paige Hooked on Bluegrass
Following are stories from Aimee, Ethan, and Daisy.
I got started playing bluegrass music when my Dad and sister Paige were learning to play banjo and guitar together, which looked like a lot of fun! So I wanted to play an instrument. At the 2003 Fathers Day Bluegrass Festival I saw someone playing “Orange Blossom Special” on fiddle, and I really liked that instrument a lot so I decided to play the fiddle. Mostly my Dad and sister Paige inspired me to play music, but my Uncle Lloyd plays fiddle and bag pipes, so he was a big influence on me playing music. A couple months after the 2003 CBA’s Fathers Day Festival I told mom and dad that I really wanted to play fiddle. So they got my first fiddle from the local luthier, Luke Wilson. After that, Mom and Dad signed me up for lessons with Rick Toles, and I was having a blast! My main instrument is the fiddle, but recently I have been learning the banjo from my dad, and mandolin from my brother, Ethan. I have always played bluegrass. It is my favorite type of music. I would like to accomplish being a really good fiddle player, and I would love to compete in some fiddle competitions. My dream would be to play at the Grand Ole Opry someday with my family band!!! That would be a lot of fun!
My family was all playing music together and I really wanted to play with them, so I told Mom and Dad, “Can I play Aimee’s old little fiddle?” And they said yes. So I brought the little fiddle to Aimee’s fiddle teacher, Rick Toles, and he showed me how to hold the bow and play scales. My sister Aimee inspired me to play fiddle. She helps me out with all the songs I learn and she shows me a lot of cool things to play. I decided that I wanted to play music when I was 5 years old. My main instrument is the fiddle, but lately I have been learning the Dobro from Kathy Barwick. Dobro is a really fun instrument. I really like bluegrass music a lot because it’s really fun. Bluegrass and fiddle is all I have played so far. I would like to be a really good fiddle player like my sister Aimee. My dream would to be playing at The IBMA awards show. That would be so cool!
I got started playing bluegrass from watching my sisters practice. I thought to myself, “I want to play an instrument!” So I started listening to old Bill Monroe CD’s. I really like Bills mandolin playing, so I told mom and dad, “Hey Mom, Dad, can I play mandolin?” They said yes. So they got me a Kentucky Mandolin. Paige’s guitar teacher, Barry Angel played mandolin. So they signed me up for lessons with him. I was having a lot of fun! What really inspired me was when I saw a show with the Del McCoury Band, and I saw Ronnie McCoury. He is one of my favorite mandolin players and a really big inspiration to me. I decided I wanted to play bluegrass music when I was six years old.
My mandolin is my main instrument, but I’m starting to learn how to play banjo and guitar. Bluegrass is the best music ever!! I would like to be a really good mandolin player like Bill Monroe and Ronnie McCoury. My dream would be to play at the Grand Old Opry with my family, and we can open for the Del McCoury Band!!!
Aissa (AJ) Lee plays a soulful mandolin and has a beautiful voice. She is a “Kids on Bluegrass” favorite, and another one we can expect to hear much more about in the
First, I should say that I like the way Bluegrass music sounds. It kind of has an upbeat and I really like that. It makes you want to dance and clap your hands sometimes. I really want to be a mandolin player because it has a lot of fancy notes.
My Mom hoped I would sing and play an instrument so she started me on a ukulele when I was 4. Then I moved onto a mandolin from there. She tuned the uke to a mandolin tuning and I learned a couple of chords. When my fingers were strong enough to handle the steel strings of the other instruments, I had fun learning more things. When you’re little, you don’t really know about acoustic instruments because there is so much more rock and electric playing going on. That’s what you see on TV a lot.
Actually, I’m finding out that each time I go somewhere, I am enjoying the Bluegrass music more. For instance, I like the teamwork involved and how a set can come together with a bunch of young players like myself. I hadn’t been playing with Molly and her brothers, Victor, Angelica, the Varners and Scott (to name a few) for many months. But when we do get together, I enjoy talking and being with everyone.
In Frank’s camp, Kids on Bluegrass, it involves a lot of working together. So if one person messes up, we have to do the whole thing over again. What I have learned from this is that if someone is counting on you, you should try to do your best. When I practice with my friends, it’s not the same as being on stage. I feel like I’m at home playing with them. When I’m all alone, I try to practice riffs repeatedly. Sometimes I play a song and I hear a part that seems simple, and I want to change it to something more interesting. Right now I don’t know my scales that well in different keys, but I’ve been getting more used to them.
One of my goals is to meet people that are better than I am and maybe get some tips from them. Another one of my goals is to at least sing or give a talk on the Grand Old Opry Stage. I like traveling to different places because so<