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Kathy Killick, Ventucky String Band and Others to Headline Old Time Fiddler’s Fest

The Old Time Fiddlers' Convention & Festival, a celebration of traditional American ​music, is held every year at Rancho La Patera & Stow House and features all day entertainment, one of the premier old-time music contests on the West Coast, free workshops taught by some of the best teachers in the industry, opportunities to jam with other musicians, entrance to the museums and much more.

This year’s lineup includes the old-time sound of Grammy-winner Kathy Kallick Band, the award-winning Bay Area group Front Country, Joe Sands Fontenot Creole Cajun Band, along with local bluegrass favorites Ventucky String Band and the Salt Martians.

The goal of the festival is both to share and preserve old-time American music, an important part of our country’s rich heritage, and to encourage a new generation of performers locally and beyond.

Musicians of all skill levels, including singers, are encouraged to participate in the competition, which is free to enter with admission.

Tickets are free for Goleta Valley Historical Society members, $20 for adults, $15 for seniors and $5 for students. Ticket sales end Sept. 30, 2015.

Individual and/or group competitors designate their entries as beginning, intermediate and advanced levels in the following categories:

» old-time fiddling

» traditional banjo (any pre-bluegrass style)

» traditional singing

» flat-pick guitar

» band performance (playing and singing in traditional styles)

» traditional mandolin

» other folk instrument (dulcimer, autoharp, jaw harp, etc.)

» best backup instrument

The festival is well-loved by the community of musicians who bond with impromptu jam sessions, instrument workshops and guests who enjoy the headliners on the stages.

Local vendors and crafts will be available and food for purchase such as delicious barbecue from Georgia’s Smokehouse, ice cream from Sugar & Salt Creamery, wine from​ Windrun and Stow Hard Lemonade. 

The evening before the festival, the Goodland Hotel, located at 5650 Camino Real in ​Goleta, will host a casual kick-off with bluegrass band “Ventucky” from 6–8 p.m.

The community is invited to begin the celebration of music with the no-host happy hour celebration.

The festival is now produced by Goleta Valley Historical Society, stewards of Rancho La Patera & Stow House, with support from the Rotary Club of Santa Barbara Sunrise.

About the Performers

The highly skilled, multi-instrumental quartet Ventucky String Band, which formed in 2010, features Matt Sayles, Dave White, Rick Clemens and Lauren Donahue blending three part harmonies and original songwriting into a sound that harkens back to the golden age of country music and the roots of the country and western sound of the 1930s, '40s and '50s.

Members of the Band have played professionally for over 30 years, with appearances on the Wheeling West Virginia Jamboree (WWVA), as well as performances with Bluegrass, Country, Western Swing & Cajun legends like Merle Haggard, Dwight Yoakam, Asleep at the Wheel, Larry Sparks, Doyle Lawson, the Bellamy Brothers, Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys and Hot Club of Cowtown.

Joe Sands Fontenot Cajun Creole Band extends from the experiences of many Louisiana Creoles who came to the west coast for work after the war and formed communities in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Band-leader Joe “Sands” Fontenot, on accordion, was born outside of Mamou and raised in L’Anse Grise, La., and moved to Los Angeles seeking work, and like many Creoles, brought his music with him. 

In the tradition of Danny Poullard in the Bay Area and Joe Simien in Los Angeles, Fontenot keeps culture alive by playing and extending the music to those that come and sit with him in the practice room at the back of the house.

Just like those before him it is all about the feel of the music and passing it on by ear. He will be the last to tell you but his relations are strong in the French Creole-music tradition as his cousins continue to play on stages and festivals back home.

Fiddler Guy Martin was born in New Orleans to a Creole mother who spoke French first. He spent time in his early years listening to his Avoyelles Parish-born Creole grandfather play the fiddle and learning Louisiana French from his family.

In college he was fortunate to have his ears seasoned on the live playing of Dewey Balfa as well as Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys while working at Mulatte’s cajun restaurant. He feels lucky to continue playing tunes under the guidance of Fontenot.

Carolyn Russel brings her depth of experience and feel of playing with Wilfred Latour and Joe Simien internationally. She was instrumental in bringing much of Cajun and Creole music to Southern California and lends an authentic feel to the sound.

There is a tendency to think of West Coast bluegrass as being softer, jazzier and somehow “other” than traditional, but there is also a school of bluegrass in Northern California, which has, from the beginning, been steeped in Monroe-based tradition.

This style was welcoming to women and original songs, and Kathy Kallick (guitar, vocals) has been leading bands in this traditional brand of West Coast bluegrass since co-founding the internationally-acclaimed band, Good Ol’ Persons, in 1975.

She continues to evolve as one of the music’s extraordinary composers and vocalists, now releasing her 20th album, recordings which include over 100 of her original songs.

Along the way, she has won a Grammy and two IBMA Awards for her part on True Life Blues: The Songs Of Bill Monroe, and she had five upper-echelon bluegrass tracks and albums including "Call Me A Taxi," "Walkin’ In My Shoes," "Warmer Kind Of Blue," "Between the Hollow & the High-Rise" and "Time,"

Kallick has performed and recorded with the Frank Wakefield Band and collaborated with the country’s top acoustic musicians, including her fabulous band, made up of Annie Staninec (fiddle, vocals), Tom Bekeny (mandolin, vocals), Greg Booth (dobro, banjo, vocals) and Cary Black (acoustic bass, vocals).

Front Country isn’t your usual bluegrass band. When the fiddle and distorted acoustic guitar come crashing into the song like roaring waves, rushing back and forth with swelling ferocity, you’ll know that this is bluegrass unleashed, American roots music that refuses to be constrained.

Each song on the album points to traditional influences, but it’s clear that Front Country views these traditions as a launching pad for grander explorations.

On their highly anticipated debut full-length album, Front Country blends everything from high-lonesome mountain music to new-wave power pop, newgrass picking, oldgrass harmonies and just plain glorious musicality.

This is Americana at its best: music with deep roots and wide-ranging vision.

Front Country formed in 2011 from a monthly gig with friends in San Francisco’s Mission District. They quickly found a musical rapport that was open to challenging arrangements, unique covers and original songwriting.

Front Country has pulled off an album that not only showcases each artist but also has something new to say about what American roots music can mean today. It’s no small feat, but they do it for the sake of the sound.

Melody Walker brought her award-winning songwriting to the table and her hall-shaking voice, which sounds like a mix between Bonnie Raitt and Natalie Maines.

Mandolinist Adam Roszkiewicz was nominated for a Grammy in 2013 for his work with the Modern Mandolin Quartet, and he is a composer of new acoustic instrumental music.

The offspring of a concert violinist and a geology professor, fiddler Leif Karlstrom is an explosive mix of talent and precision, erupting like a bluegrass volcano.

Starting out on electric bass in funk bands, Zach Sharpe plays upright bass on-stage and picks a mean banjo off-stage.

Jacob Groopman is the hardest working man in Front Country, acting as both lead guitarist and “head cat-wrangler,” while supplying sweet harmony vocals and spiritual guidance for a crew of six.

Festival History:

44th Year!

Fiddlers’ Festival Organization Changes Hands, Heart of the Festival Remains!

The festival was created following the Folk Revival by renowned musician Peter Feldmann in 1972 and was originally held at UCSB as a partnership with Arts & Lectures. 

In the late 1990s the Rotary Club of Santa Barbara Sunrise assumed management of the Festival and it continued to grow and attract fans from near and far.

The organizers remained dedicated to building the premier old-time music contests on the West Coast. 

The Rotary Club has worked closely with Goleta Valley Historical Society, stewards of Rancho La Patera & Stow House for many years and has recently transferred over the organization of the event to GVHS.

Amanda De Lucia, director of GVHS says, “We are thrilled to continue this tradition, beloved by so many in the musical community and beyond, and look forward to many successful festivals ahead. As an organization dedicated to history and education, we are excited to play a larger part inspiring the next generation to learn about old-time Music. We are also very grateful that many of the long-time volunteer organizers will remain an integral part of the festival’s future.”

— Dacia Harwood represents the Goleta Valley Historical Society.

 
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