The Minnesota Bluegrass and Old Time Music Association (MBOTMA) sponsors numerous events around the state each year. We enjoy the Bluegrass Winter Festival held in Plymouth (suburb of Minneapolis) each March. Besides the hundreds of diverse acoustic musicians and bands, everywhere jams, dancing and general pleasantry there is a youth program, the Grass Seeds Academy, that offers kids a chance to learn jamming etiquette, ensemble playing, how to play back-up and take a lead break on their instrument, plus singing lead and harmony vocals. The kids have a lot of fun, but they work hard too. They learn from gifted musicians that dedicate their time to the kids – taking ocassional breaks to perform on stage themselves. And finally they perform with their self-created bands on Sunday afternoon.
This year’s faculty was The High 48’s, winners of the 2009 Rockygrass band competition. Anthony Ihrig on banjo and resophonic guitar, Rich Casey on bass, Chad Johnson on mandolin and Eric Christopher returned for a fourth year of teaching fiddle – and some mandolin. Mark Kreitzer joined them to teach guitar. The perennial favorite, Chuck Millar was back to teach fiddle and a little bit of everything else, too. New this year is Ryan Kimm, teaching guitar, resophonic guitar, and bass. He is an experienced teacher and the kids loved his youthful energy and enthusiasm. Catie Jo Pidel, a former GS student plays in Ruby Magpie with Ryan and was also along as an enthusiastic teacher this year. Sandi Pidel, the Grass Seeds Coordinator, can be reached at 763-784-5286 or email email@example.com.
The main goal of Grass Seeds is to get young people playing their instruments and loving traditional music.
GSII is a new off-shoot this year of extra talented youth from 14-18. This group will work on more difficult arrangements and advanced techniques like improvisation. They will really focus in on what it takes to be part of a performing group.
The High 24s playing their version of Shenandoah Valley Breakdown
The GSII playing Wagon Wheel. Bob would be proud.
A lovely time was had by all.