Growing Bluegrass in the Desert !

Image635726485146934980Guest Article by: James Reams

They say that if you want to grow anything in the desert, just add water. For lots of music lovers out here in the southwest, their landscape can look pretty dry and dusty. Folks are thirsty for something that will quench their mercurial longings. And they want more than just to wet their whistle.

So why shouldn’t bluegrass music be that oasis in the desert? It’s got everything: traditional favorites as well as new “atomic” grass; family friendly yet edgy enough for hipsters; and it fits every pocketbook!! Diversity provides that hidden well of talent to draw from…it’s what makes this music come alive for all ages.

Not only is bluegrass music diverse in its delivery (old-time, folk, Americana, country, rockabilly, blues and jazz have all been represented); it’s cross-cultural. Bluegrass music knows no boundaries with regard to economic or social status, religious affiliation, educational background, race or gender. It goes with the flow so to speak and is spreading everywhere…even in the so-called music deserts like Arizona.

Sadly, the climate for bluegrass music in Arizona can be bone dry at times. It’s a darn shame because there are some really great bluegrass festivals here (bands too!), but not much in between. That’s why a buddy of mine and I decided to create an organization dedicated to bringing top-notch bluegrass music to our beloved desert.

Image635726496827443066R&R Productions launched into existence in 2014 by sponsoring the 1st Annual AZ Bluegrass Film Festival in conjunction with the Arizona Bluegrass Association. After making arrangements with a local venue based in Scottsdale, the Cattle Track Theater, we were able to start offering a watering hole for music-thirsty Arizonans (and a whole flock of snowbirds!). The first season saw sold out shows for performances from Grammy nominated Audie Blaylock & Redline, breakout sensation Nu-Blu, and the best bluegrass band in Canada, The Spinney Brothers. The word is out on the band circuit – “There’s an oasis for bluegrass in the desert!”

The 2015-16 season will kick off on October 10th with the 2nd Annual AZ Bluegrass Film Festival. Concerts usually run monthly and will start in November and run through Feb (maybe even March). We’ve already been contacted by several great bands about performing here as they head through on their way to or from shows in California.

It’s been great to see the turnouts and the smiles on the faces of concert goers when they find out that the musicians are approachable and willing to talk to just “ordinary” folks after the event. Not only are audiences impressed with the level of the performances but they’re talking to their friends about it and buying CDs. Yes, folks, the desert is greening up!

Get On Board v2I don’t plan to rest until bluegrass music is everywhere like a proverbial water fountain of sound. This wonderful music just seems to rehydrate our parched ole world. Folks everywhere are finding out what a difference a refreshing dip in the bluegrass pond can do for them and their families. So come on in, the water’s fine!

Contact James Reams at james@jamesreams.com to be notified of upcoming R&R Production events.

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