What is SeMi Bluegrass? It's a meeting place where live music fans in Southeast Michigan gather to exchange information about the live music scene: show reviews, cool venues, band profiles, product reviews and more.
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If you're looking for the South East Michigan Bluegrass Music Association (A fine group of Bluegrass fans in South East Michigan) you can find them at http://smbluegrass.org/

Monday, June 29, 2015

The Art of Parking Lot Picking

Great Michigan Grass from Out of the Blue
The 2015 SeMiBluegrass Summer Tour got off to a great start at the Charlotte Bluegrass Festival.  This year's lineup was fantastic with stellar performances from Billy Strings & Don Julin, Donna Ullisse, Audie Baylock and the Lonesome River Band.  Local bands the Blankenships, Harbourtown and Out of the Blue did a bang-up job as well, putting out music and performances every bit as good as the headliners.  The food vendors were absolutely amazing.  With options like hillbilly nachos, gourmet hot dogs and ice cream in fresh made waffle cones to choose from, we ended up bringing most of the food we brought back home with us when we left!  As usual Wes, Kellie and the whole crew pulled off a well run and very enjoyable event.  Even a major breakdown by Doyle Lawson's bus, on and off rain, and Woodstockesque mud in the campground didn't slow them down.

Billy Strings jamming in the campground
Besides being the oldest bluegrass festival in Michigan, it also prides itself in being an excellent place to indulge in parkin' lot pickin' (some might argue that the music heard in the campground late into the evening is as good--or even better--that what you hear on stage).  This year certainly did not disappoint with dozens of formal and informal jams taking place throughout the day and evenings (and long into the night).  Some jam around their campers, some set up in the pavilions and barns, some bring dedicated canopies and tents to jam under, but they all share one thing in common--a love for playing bluegrass music together with friend and strangers alike.  It is what makes the parkin' lot pickin' tradition so special.

A Little Bass Workshop at SeMiBluegrass
If you take the time to walk around, you'll see everything from kids "slow jamming" with their parents to headliners from the stage picking with their friends in the campground.  Harbourtown was there--as usual--with their well known, hard-driving and free-spirited take on traditional bluegrass.  Met an incredible band of young grassers from the west side of the state--Full Cord--who spent most of the festival as the "house band" for one of the "master" level jams in the campground before dropping by the SeMiBluegrass jam to show off some rollicking bluegrass covers of pop tunes.  Various pickers from the Michigan Bluegrass Music Association we spotted at various jams.  These are ALWAYS worth stopping by for a helping of classic bluegrass and "deep cuts" from first and second-generation bluegrass artists that you don't usually hear.  The Southeast Michigan Bluegrass Music Association held a  well attended Wednesday night open jam in the backstage barn.  A lot of fun was had by all, and a pair of YOUNG fiddlers stole the show!  The guys from the Ol' Hippie Bluegrass Show do their jam up right, complete with authentic plains teepee and pump-handle washtub bass.  The SeMiBluegrass jam featured our usual mix of bluegrass and "bluegrass-related" tunes.  My favorite jam?  Slow jamming "Katy Daly" with my 12-year old daughter the first time she'd ever tried to play mandolin along with anyone.  Like all great festival jams, when other pickers walked by and heard us, they joined right in.  We'd soon added an experienced dobro, bass and banjo player to our little beginners' jam--and so the torch was passed to another generation.

Pictures follow.  Please use, share and link freely with credit to SeMiBluegrass.com.

Coming Soon to a Festival Near You.  Drop by and Pick a Few!

All Shapes and Sizes Welcome

Always Bonus Points for Decorating the Jam

The Blankenships.  Really Soulful Bluegrass Here.

Billy Strings and Don Julin.  Not Your Typical Bluegrass, but AWESOME!

A Quick Jam Sprung Up...And Lasted All Night!

Killing Time Between Shows!

High Quality Bluegrass

The Coolest Camp There

The Next Generation

Jamming Into the Wee Hours.