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Pluckin' on the six string 

Hillside Gardens hosts first annual Bluegrass Festival

click to enlarge The Bertye Maddux Band, The Bluegrass Patriots, Live - Five and Palmer Divide.
  • The Bertye Maddux Band, The Bluegrass Patriots, Live Five and Palmer Divide.

Did you know that Colorado boasts some of the best national touring bluegrass bands in the country? Have you walked through the gorgeous Hillside Gardens lately? Do you have a free Sunday afternoon?

If you haven't attended the regular jam circles on Bluegrass Night at Poor Richard's or caught one of the shows sponsored by the Black Rose Acoustic Society, then you've probably never heard much live bluegrass in the Springs.

"Colorado Springs has never had a bluegrass festival," said Walter Chase, organizer of Hillside Gardens' first annual Bluegrass Festival, to be held Sunday, Aug. 1.

"Why, I don't know," added Chase. "The scene has its ups an downs; it'll get hot and then cool down again, but it never goes away. We're aiming to expose more people with this show, and there's no place like this venue."

The lineup is packed with talent, and all but one performer hails from Colorado, a testament to the state's contribution to the craft. Local acts Palmer Divide, The Mitguards, and The Bertye Maddux Band will perform in that order to kick off the event Sunday at noon, followed by Jalan Crossland from Wyoming.

The first headliner is Pete Wernick's Live Five -- a group that combines bluegrass with traditional jazz modalities, creating a sound known as "flexigrass." A nationally recognized and acclaimed banjo artist, Wernick is a member of the band Hot Rize. With Live Five, expect banjo, bass, clarinet, vibraphone and some brushed drums, an "eccentric Dixieland-style bluegrass," according to Chase.

Following Live Five will be The Bluegrass Patriots, hailing from Ft. Collins.

There'll be plenty of shade in Hillside Gardens and ample cover in case of afternoon showers, as well as diverse vending.

Only 500 tickets are available for this year's event, so don't get caught singin' the blues outside the gate on Sunday.

-- Matthew Schniper

capsule First annual Bluegrass Festival at Hillside Gardens

Presented by Walter Chase/ERA Shields and Hillside Gardens

1006 S. Institute St. (just south of Fountain)

Sunday, Aug. 1, noon to 8 p.m.; gates open at 11 a.m.

Tickets $20, available at The Folklore Center, 330 N. Tejon, 634-2228; The Music Exchange 305 E. Pikes Peak Ave., 578-0883; and Hillside Gardens, 1006 S. Institute, 520-9463

  • Hillside Gardens hosts first annual Bluegrass Festival

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