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Bluegrass at the Lake is back

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Posted: Thursday, August 28, 2014 1:00 pm

Bluegrass at the Lake is back, and festival organizers don’t expect a carbon copy of the first year. This year’s show, Sept. 6 at Lodi Lake Park, will be even better, with the emphasis on more:

  • More music
  • More food options
  • More shade
  • More volume!

Five bands, with San Francisco-based Blame Sally the headliner, perform starting at noon (gates open at 11 a.m.) in the Ron Williamson Youth Area, a spectacularly scenic peninsula along the Mokelumne River at the park’s northwest corner. With the success of last year’s performance, which attracted about 500 spectators, it’s a wonder Lodi hasn’t done something like this before. Lodi’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department, which is putting on the show, expects attendance to double.

Mark Hamilton, a volunteer with the Lodi-Tokay Rotary Club , longtime bluegrass fan and the festival’s master of ceremonies, was instrumental in organizing last year’s event as well as this year’s. has been instrumental in building this year’s event. Hamilton organized five local Rotary clubs to assist with this year’s festival, as well as a youth art and music show from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Lodi Lake. Musicians are invited to jam Friday evening at the lake.

“I heard from people who thought they didn’t like bluegrass, saying they loved the show,” Hamilton said. “And some people who grumbled beforehand that it wasn’t going to be traditional enough thought it turned out great.”

The Lodi News-Sentinel wrote last year:

“The Bluegrass at the Lake event showcased the wisdom of combining the city’s arts and culture efforts with parks and recreation. The event worked because the music appeals to Lodi’s American roots, and Lodi Lake Park is a municipal wonderment.”

Tickets are $20 in advance ($10 for ages 6-17), and $25/$15 on the day of the show, available in advance through the festival website,, or at the Hutchins Street Square box office (209) 333-5550.

The five bands will perform on a stage beneath the shade of willow trees at Lodi Lake. Headliner Blame Sally is an all-women quartet known for their blend of folk and rock, adding four-part harmonies. The band has released five studio albums and has toured Europe on several occasions. As the Bristol (England) Post wrote, “If Sally is to blame for getting this lot together, well then, thank you Sally.”

Bluegrass at the Lake begins with Cliff Compton and Mountain Top, a bluegrass gospel group from the Sacramento area; followed by the father-daughter duo of Joe and Hattie Craven from Dixon. Craven, who has played with musical giants ranging from cellist Yo Yo Ma to the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia, appeared in last year’s Bluegrass at the Lake festival and will provide a free musical workshop at the Parson’s Point picnic area from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Stockton’s Snap Jackson and the Knock on Wood Players is the other returning band. This band is one of California’s emerging bluegrass bands for their high-energy and unique versions of other genre classics.

The fourth act is Evie Ladin/Evil Diane with Keith Terry and Erik Pearson from the Bay Area. Ladin is a banjo wizard who has been playing since she was 8 years old, and a stunning vocalist. Ladin will offer a free workshop on old-time harmony singing from 11 a.m. to noon at Parson’s Point, following Craven’s session and before the festival begins.

“We think this is on the verge of becoming a signature event for the Lodi,” said Jeff Hood, director of Lodi’s Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department. “We have an amazing venue, committed volunteers and incredible musicians. Our hope is Bluegrass at the Lake will grow into the community’s must-see event.”

Amenities include a water taxi from the Boat House on the south side across the lake and a shade structure measuring 20 feet by 120 feet. The gate opens at 11 a.m. Festival T-shirts are $15.

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