With a fiddle, guitar or banjo, bluegrass sings to the country soul.
The town of Marana welcomes this year’s bluegrass festival next week, bringing musicians from all over Tucson and Phoenix. Bluegrass is a stem of country music in which jazz and blues are combined with guitars and banjos. With high pitch vocals to match the tunes, bluegrass music is enjoyed by all ages.
The Marana Bluegrass Festival is a three-day event at Gladden Farms Community Park, where attendees can camp-out and jam for the weekend with the community.
The Desert Bluegrass Association, led by president Dave Polston, wants to bring an eclectic group of bluegrass artists to share their music with local residents.
“Lots of people play music at home or play by themselves, but you never get the true timing and feel of playing music until you play with other people,” he said. “And that’s what our association and festival do.”
This will be the second year the Marana Bluegrass Festival is at Gladden Farms, but the seventh year total. This year, local bands such as Dusty River Band, Out of the Blue, and Jam Pak will be performing on the main stages throughout the weekend.
The festival will start on Friday, March 15, a day of free concerts starting at 3 p.m. Once the shows are over for the day, there are small jam sessions in the campgrounds into the evening and night. This is where fans and bluegrass music lovers can join in on the strumming or singing with their favorite artists.
“The everyday musician gets real excited during the day watching the professionals up on the stage and it motivates them to go out and head to one of the jams and stand around the fire and kick a little bit,” Polston said.
Bluegrass music attracts a much older crowd, but according to Polston, there are younger crowds and children who take an interest in learning the bluegrass instruments who have recently started to come to enjoy the festival activities and music. The festival will include an “instrument petting zoo” where anyone can learn how to play any of the instruments used in bluegrass, and even jam out on them.
Desert Bluegrass Association Co-chair Jeff Collins said the most exciting thing to see is the community, including bluegrass music lovers of all ages coming out to hear and even play the music.
“Marana loves it because they very rarely get a big music festival like this,” Collins said. “It gets a lot of people who aren’t from Marana in there, and Marana gets to show off how they’ve expanded.”
The 2019 Marana Bluegrass Festival takes place Friday through Sunday, March 15, 16, and 17 at Gladden Farms Community Park, 12205 N. Tangerine Farms Road. More information online at desertbluegrass.org/events.
Briannon Wilfong is a University of Arizona journalism student and Tucson Local Media intern.