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Hello Idaho Bluegrass Lovers!

Did we just live through a summer without “in person” bluegrass festivals? Almost no live music of any kind? Are you missing it as much as I am? I promise never to take it for granted again. Assuming this pandemic will someday be behind us, I will even cherish and cheer for the out-of-tune, off-key, beginner open mic performances that I might have grumbled about in the past. Oh wait, that was me I was grumbling about!

How have you been surviving this crazy and upside down reality? Perhaps you’ve joined an outdoor jam group? --but with wearing a mask and sitting so far apart, the only person you can hear is you (and the banjo, of course). Or maybe you have been attending the new version of a house concert? --only three guests and you each pay $200 per ticket. Or possibly you and your quarantine pod band set up and busk on the greenbelt? --but if anyone actually stops to listen or talk to you, you have to threaten to stop playing and leave!

As musicians and music lovers, we all have been doing our best to adapt to this (hopefully) temporary reality. But let’s face it, this has been hard. Anxieties and fear are at unprecedented levels. It might seem too cliché, but it is our sincere hope that this thing we call bluegrass can help bring us together. Can we reach beyond our fears and differences to tolerate, appreciate, and even help each other through these challenging times?

We envision a beautiful world in 2021 P.C.--- Yeah, Post COVID:

The weekly jams, monthly showcase, and monthly open mic will restart as soon as it is safe.

We are excited to announce that we are combining the
4-day Music and Banjo Camps into one all-inclusive camp, which will be held in Weiser, Idaho, May 20-23, 2021. More information and updates are available at the website.

Hold on to your hats! Here comes another Memorial Day Bluegrass Fest!



How do we survive, and keep the music alive, between now and 2021 P.C.?  Most music instructors have begun or expanded their video conference teaching. Many performers are creating from-home, livestream events. Some have moved to virtual band performances. Some of us are sitting at home with metronome and strum machine :(

But there's more we can do!
Check out these online possibilities:

Jason’s Weekly YouTube Jam-Along
Thank you, Jason!

--the online alternative to Wintergrass for 2021.
Monthly shows started a week ago. 

Livestream concerts!

October 1, 2020,  8 pm Eastern Standard Time (6 pm here)

Sierra Hull, Joe Newberry, Tim O’Brien, and Rhonda Vincent will host and present this year’s virtual event. The two-hour event is free, but donations will help support IBMA.

Show will feature performances from all six “Entertainer of the Year” nominees, tributes to Doc Watson and J.D. Crowe, celebrations of women in bluegrass, the 20th anniversary of O Brother, Where Art Thou?, the 75th anniversary of the birth of bluegrass…and much more.

The show will air on SiriusXM’s Bluegrass Junction channel, and livestream two ways: IBMA’s Facebook Live, and via Swapcard, the official event platform for IBMA Virtual World of Bluegrass event this year.

Expect to see taped and virtual performances and presentations from 2019 “Entertainer of the Year” Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers, Brooke Aldridge, Balsam Range, Kristin Scott Benson, Blue Highway, Dale Ann Bradley, Gena Britt, Alison Brown, Mike Bub, Becky Buller, Sam Bush, Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper, Katy Daley, Jerry Douglas, Stuart Duncan, Gina Furtado, David Grier, Trey Hensley, Rob Ickes, Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver, Ned Luberecki, Del McCoury Band, Missy Raines, Sister Sadie, Amanda Smith, Special Consensus, Billy Strings, Bryan Sutton, The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys, Taj Mahal, The Travelin’ McCourys, Molly Tuttle, Scott Vestal, and Jake Workman, with additional performances to be announced.

“This show has been a pleasure to produce,” said Joanne Gardner Lowell, producer of this year’s Awards show. “When I started talking with the IBMA earlier this year, we were Raleigh bound. I’ve been so impressed by how eager all of the IBMA team and the performers have been to pivot and create an entirely new program with virtual aspects. It’s a testament to how the people in the bluegrass community are focused on pulling together to make lemonade out of the large crate of lemons we’ve all been handed this year.”

Click on this link to watch a promo:


October 2-4.
Infamous String Dusters.

Sierra Hull home concert and mandolin lesson

Virtualgrass, Reinvigorated--on our own Idaho Bluegrass Association webpage.
Check our 
recent submissions and send us one of your own.

We would like to hear from you about your activities in the bluegrass world in the last six months. We will post all livestream, virtual events, and online teaching workshops on our calendar as we hear from you.




By Charlie Simmons

Before there was an Idaho bluegrass association, some of us would get together and jam at various locations. We would play with the Idaho Old Time Fiddlers at their playouts and jams. I think that is where I first met Mike and Donna Bond. They were new from California and had bluegrass experience playing banjo, guitar, and bass. For years, we called Mike the Father of Idaho Bluegrass. Among the places we played was the Eagle Fire Station. It was here I first played with Chris Work. I had met him earlier when my band was playing at the Big Pine Tavern (now The Dutch Goose). We also played at Marion and Mary Moore’s home and at another couple’s home at Shady Acres. I don’t recall their names, but the lady found us a place to play at the Liberty Grange Hall on the highway towards Emmett. It had a stage with a kitchen behind. We had a small P. A. with two mikes furnished by Don Brown. We had a pretty good following by then of family and friends. It was a lot of fun and the rent for the hall was twenty-five dollars. We would pass the hat and always got more than enough. The participants including the Moore’s – Marion, Mary, Gary, and Steve. Others were Mike and Donna Bond, Stan Coleman, Don Brown and family, Mark Thomas, Charlie Burry, Pat Gibson, Bob Hickish, Pat Markham, Shorty Bassett, and others I don’t remember.

We started meeting at the Newman Center on the BSU campus. By this time, we were joined by Joe Smith, Paul Morgan, Glen Garrett, Howard Wright, Adele Thompson, Randy Glenn, and others. Joe Smith was from West Virginia and worked for Boise Cascade. He had the perfect high tenor bluegrass voice. He could part your hair at fifty paces. He pushed us hard to start an organization. Under his guidance and Joyce Marker’s efforts, the Idaho Bluegrass Association was born as an incorporated non-profit association.

Our first performance was at Julia Davis Park for a breakfast. I think it was Fourth of July 1979, with Joe Smith, Mike Bond, Paul Morgan, Glen Garrett, Randy Glenn and myself. KBOI interviewed us and filmed us playing at the Newman Center. I probably have a copy of the video somewhere.

I think I first met Glen Garrett and Randy Glenn at the Fairgrounds. Spectra Productions put on their idea of a bluegrass festival and had several bands. One band was Rocky Mountain Ozone, Bruce Alkire’s band. I especially remember Jeannie Powell. She was a gorgeous young lady who wore a white jump suit and played terrific fiddle. Other bands included the Boise bluegrass band Ragged but Right and an electric band. I was asked to put together a band, which would include Stan Coleman, John Sankey, Paul Morgan, Charlie Burry, Randy Glenn, and whoever else was there with an instrument and in another band. The headliner was an amazing swing fiddler who played a couple of sets. His name was Cecil Johnson, the brother of Herman Johnson, the multiple time winner of the National Old Time Fiddler’s Contest. Jamming behind the stage, I met Glen Garrett and Randy Glenn. Randy was stationed at Mountain Home Air Force Base and was playing an old plectrum banjo, for which he’d made a five-string neck. I didn’t know until later what a great guitar player he was.

Then we moved our meeting and jam location to the Boise Senior Center. First officers of the Idaho Bluegrass Association were Glen Garrett(president), Adele Thompson(Vice President), Mike Bond(Editor), Joyce Marker(Treasurer). Other early officers were President(Randy Glenn, Dee Smith, Charley Simmons, Bill Bernard, Ron Outen, and Keith Friedman) and Editor(Howard Wright). We later combined the Editor and Treasurer positions.

I don’t think the Idaho Bluegrass Association would have happened without Joe Smith. I remember when he was playing at the South Fork Lodge in Lowman. Mark Thomas changed the spelling of his name on the marquee to Ejos Mithe. We called him Joe Ejos for a while. Joyce Marker wrote up our bylaws. She made her own banjo and did beautiful inlays from an abalone shell. Other early members were Tianna Glenn, Gary Mitchell, Charlie Kinder, Les Taylor, Bob Calahan, Dewayne and Cora Bingham, and Michael Baines. My apologies go to the many people I didn’t mention or misspelled their names.

I’ve planned on writing this article for years and should have when my memory was better. I’m happy the Association is alive and well with wonderful and talented members. Joe Gobel and Petra Schwarthoff now are doing a great job. My thanks go to Bruce George for keeping the group together.

We used to organize concerts with various national-level artists including the Bluegrass Cardinals, Ralph Stanley, Laurie Lewis, Robin and Linda Williams, and others. More will follow later on this topic. Also, I will write an article about early bluegrass bands in Idaho.




Boyd Robinson died Friday 9/4/2020. He was 99.
"Didn’t quite make it to 100 like he said he was going to. We will miss him."
(Bruce George)

 Here a video of Boyd's son Rob spreading Boyd's ashes in the mountains while singing his farewell to his father.



From Monte Thomas:
I live in Boise and am looking to go into the studio to record a few songs.  I have one in particular that is at my roots. 
I started out playing Bluegrass with my brothers when I was 13 as The Idaho Bluegrass Special in the late 70's. I am looking for some players and singers to help bring this song to life.  It's called "Here Comes a Storm."  I need the full meal.  A banjo player and a flatpicker that can do a call and answer as the lead part.  An upright bass, a fiddle and some great harmonies.

Thanks for keeping the tradition alive!!

Take care and hope to see you soon.

Our annual members meeting will be December 2, 2020, 5:30 pm, via Zoom call. We will be voting on board members and directors at that time. Please contact us if you would like to get involved or if you are a voting member and would like to cast a vote.

Cheers, Joe Gobel

President, Idaho Bluegrass Association

Copyright © 2020 Idaho Bluegrass Association, All rights reserved.

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