Utah bluegrass festival offers jamming fun

PROVO, Utah-The raw acoustic power and driving rhythms of bluegrass had listeners on their feet this weekend as musicians of all levels jammed late into the night.

The 18th annual Founders Title Company Folk and Bluegrass Festival was held at the Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort Friday through Sunday and included a number of performances by professional and semi-professional groups, jam sessions and contests.

Every evening of the festival, jam sessions began after the last artist performed and ended at midnight. The sessions were a spontaneous mixture of old-time music and performers of all types.

Everyone was welcome to participate or listen.

Ezra Bussmann, who performs in the Salt Lake City bluegrass band Hammer Down, said the Founders Festival is Utah’s main bluegrass and folk festival. It promotes the local groups and brings in national performers, he said.

“It is a weekend of bluegrass music and fun,” Bussmann said.

He described the festival as a mix of folk and old-time music, arts and crafts, vendors and instruments.

The festival was also host to the official Utah guitar, mandolin, banjo and fiddle championships.

James Cavan, a BYU senior majoring in music education, said,

“You don’t get a lot of bluegrass around here; it is just good, clean fun,” said Cavan, who performs in one of the BYU folk music ensembles.

True to the bluegrass image, the festival was a laid-back affair and completely run by volunteers, said festival coordinator and KRCL DJ The Old Man.

“People let themselves go-they don’t care what they look like and have a good time,” he said.

Many people follow the bluegrass festivals around the country, said Mark Jenkins, the lead vocalist and guitarist in Hammer Down. Bluegrass listeners generally enjoy all genres of music and are drawn to the power of acoustic music, he said.

“Bluegrass makes you want to get up and dance,” Jenkins said. “People need to get out and listen to it, and enjoy it for what it is.”


Donica Allen

The Daily Universe