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500 turn out for first ever Bluegrass at the Lake

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Posted: Saturday, August 24, 2013 9:44 pm | Updated: 6:45 am, Mon Aug 26, 2013.

Music fans filled up the expansive lawn behind Lodi Lake for the first music festival in Lodi on Saturday afternoon. 

Bluegrass at the Lake featured Bean Creek, Harmony Grits, the David Thom Band, and Snap Jackson and the Knock On Wood Players, plus father and daughter pair Hattie and Joe Craven. More than 500 concert goers toted out lawn chairs, blankets, Frisbees and hula hoops for five hours of banjo picking, mandolin strumming and dobro playing. 

The event was put on by the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department under the careful organization of Jennifer Winn, recreation manager for the City of Lodi. Green Home Solutions by Grupe sponsored the first ever Lodi music festival. 

Michael Hall, president of the Northern California Bluegrass Society, manned a booth to promote more upcoming shows. But he said the Lodi lineup was a real treat. 

Out of the five bands, two were named Best of Bluegrass for 2013. That was Bean Creek and Snap Jackson and the Knock On Wood Players.

One band was already making plans to return next year. 

“There was a wonderful crowd for this being the first year,” said Pamella Craven, wife of performer Joe Craven. “If it goes another year, we’d love to return.”

A solid group braved the August sunshine to sit right in front of the stage, but more people were clustered under the willow trees growing along the edge of the Mokelumne. Throughout the day, the music was punctuated by the occasional jet ski zooming by, while a few kayakers and paddle boarders slowed their pace to take in a tune. A few technical hiccups slowed the transition from one band to the next, but the audience was happy to take their time. Beer was sold, HG Vineyards poured wines, and B.O.B.S. sold hot dogs, hamburgers and tri-tip sandwiches as a fundraiser. 

A cool breeze made the willow trees sway over the temporary stage. The twang of banjo picking filled the air as shadows stretched across the lawn. The rollicking rhythms pulled listeners out of their seats and got their toes tapping. But no one was more into the music than the man who gave his name as Dancin’ John. 

He set up camp to the right of the stage with a small red folding chair and water bottle, neither of which he seemed to touch. He was too busy dancing. With braces on both knees, shoes with no laces and a towel laid across his shoulders, Dancin’ John was prepared to go for hours. He is the self proclaimed title holder of most music festivals attended in a year, which he won in 2012 with 162 events. Dancin’ Joe dances at all of these. It’s a quickstep shuffle combined with a shoulder shimmy, and it doesn’t stop for anything. 

“I’ve danced to all of these bands all over the place. These are my favorite bands,” he said. “What more could you ask for?” 

Contact reporter Sara Jane Pohlman at sarap@lodinews.com

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