Tricounty News

Minnesota Bluegrass Festival Aug 12-15

Thursday through Sunday, Aug. 12-15, Richmond

The Bluegrass & Old-Time Music Festival will be at El Rancho Ma-ana Campground 27302B Ranch Road in Richmond. The four-day outdoor music and camping festival will have stage shows, dances, workshops, showcases, children's shows, demonstrations, crafts, and good food in five stage areas. Nominated 2005 & 2007 IBMA Event of the Year, Blue Highway, The Gibson Brothers, Dan Paisley & Southern Grass, Big Hoedown, Rarely Herd, The New Mules, Southern Reign, Mac & Jenny Traynham, and many more. Mainstage showtimes are 7 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. Thursday, 1 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

Tickets for adults are daily at the gate: $20 Thursday, $25 Friday, $30 Saturday, $20 Sunday, or $85 for all four days, including camping. Teens are only $10 and kids are free. Discounts in advance. For information or tickets, call (800) 635-3037, or visit This is presented by the Minnesota Bluegrass & Old-Time Music Association.

Bluegrass resonates at this Minnesota music festival

In 2007, when Merle Haggard wanted to make a new record called "The Bluegrass Sessions," he wanted the very best players of that genre of music. So he called Rob Ickes. A Northern California native, Ickes moved to Nashville in 1992 and helped found the band Blue Highway. More than fifteen years later, Blue Highway is still composed of Jason Burleson on banjo, Shawn Lane on mandolin, Tim Stafford on guitar, Wayne Taylor on bass, and Ickes on the resophonic guitar (often called the Dobro guitar after the original builders from Czechoslovakia, The Dopyera Brothers). Ickes is recognized as one of the most innovative Dobro players in any music scene today, contributing signature technique and greatly expanding the boundaries of the instrument's sonic and stylistic territory.

What is a Dobro guitar? "That is what we want to show people this year," says Jed Malischke, Executive Director of The Minnesota Bluegrass & Old-Time Music Festival, which is scheduled for Aug. 12 through 15 at El Rancho Ma-ana near Richmond. In addition to great resophonic players like Ickes, the festival will include a resophonic guitar master's showcase, numerous reso-guitar workshops, a reso-guitar gathering, and a number of resophonic related "tweeners" between bands on the main stage. "Our theme is 'Bluegrass Resonates In Minnesota,'" explains Malischke, "and we intend to focus on the resonator guitar while also showing that we can enjoy the very best bluegrass and old-time stringband music right here in Minnesota."

Blue Highway certainly reflects that level of quality musicianship. With nine highly-acclaimed albums to their credit, Blue Highway has garnered two Grammy nominations, a Dove Award, topped the Bluegrass Unlimited radio charts, and won numerous International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) awards. In 2009 they were nominated for both Vocal Group of the Year and Instrumental Group of the Year. Rob Ickes alone has won two Grammies and was named IBMA Dobro Player of the Year for a record-setting 11th time in 2009 (he is the most awarded instrumentalist in the history of those awards). Refusing to coast on past glories, Blue Highway continues to push its music to new levels of accomplishment. Artfully balanced between tradition and innovation, it remains in the forefront of contemporary bluegrass music. Blue Highway will be headlining the Minnesota Bluegrass & Old-Time Music Festival Saturday, Aug. 14, with shows in the afternoon and evening.

The Friday headliner, The Gibson Brothers, also reflect this commitment of bringing the nation's best to this Minnesota festival. About the same time Blue Highway was getting started, Eric and Leigh Gibson were being named Emerging Group of the Year (1999). They have since gone on to record five chart topping records, including the current #1 record, and #1 song, "Ring The Bell." Setting a new standard for classic brother style duet singing, Eric and Leigh are also both prolific writers. In 2009 they received a Song of the Year nomination for "Iron and Diamonds." "We're bluegrass lifers," says Leigh Gibson. They will demonstrate their life-long commitment in Minnesota with afternoon and evening shows on Friday Aug. 12.

Several other award-winning groups will be appearing at the Minnesota Bluegrass & Old-Time Music Festival. The Rarely Herd (Entertaining Band of the Year, Dove Award, Grand Master's Gold Award), Dan Paisley & The Southern Grass (2009 Song of the Year and Male Vocalist of the Year nominee), The High 48s (Rockygrass Champions), and SweetGrass (Race For A Place Champions), plus Mac & Jenny Traynham, The New Mules, Big Hoedown, Southern Reign, Pert' Near Sandstone, Lulu Gals, and many more.

The Minnesota Bluegrass & Old-Time Music Festival is the largest event of its kind in the Upper Midwest, attracting some 5,000 guests each year. It takes place annually on the second weekend of August at Minnesota's largest campground, El Rancho Ma-ana in Stearns County (20 mies west of

St. Cloud, I-94 exit #153 at Avon, 9 miles S on Cty 9, L on Ma-ana Rd). It is produced by the Minnesota Bluegrass & Old-Time Music Association (MBOTMA), a non-profit corporation. In addition to the more than 30 hours of main stage concerts, there are several other entertainment venues at the festival with nightly dances, instrument demonstrations and dancing exhibitions, family shows and activities for kids, workshops and jam sessions. The 2010 31st annual festival will be held Thursday through Sunday Aug. 12-15.

You can attend for a day, evening, afternoon, or camp on the grounds all four days and the week prior too. More information about the festival is available at, or by calling (800) 635-3037.