Music

Is it the pickin' or the grinnin' that gets you going?

Find out at the Southwest Pickers Bluegrass and Traditional Music Festival in Red River

By Tamra Testerman
tempo@taosnews.com
Posted 8/22/19

With the waning days left in the summer of 2019, the fresh mountain air of Red River beckons the spirit. For many, that spirit is stirred by the infectious energy of the annual …

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Music

Is it the pickin' or the grinnin' that gets you going?

Find out at the Southwest Pickers Bluegrass and Traditional Music Festival in Red River

Posted

With the waning days left in the summer of 2019, the fresh mountain air of Red River beckons the spirit. For many, that spirit is stirred by the infectious energy of the annual Southwest Pickers Bluegrass and Traditional Music Festival, kicking off a full weekend of fun today through Sunday (Aug. 22-25).

The event is organized by the Southwest Tradition and Bluegrass Association; and the stage is provided by Red River Visitors and Conference Center.

According to SWTBA President Tony Mora, the fans who bring their instruments "will be able to jam with other festival attendees, amateur and professional hosted jam leaders and the booked professional talent."

Mora, a player himself, said the music a big attraction but so is the ambiance of Red River and its people. "Mountains, rivers and streams, tall pine trees and colorful aspens, friendly folks, excellent dining, camping, outdoor activities, and vistas unparalleled." Quoting American country music singer-songwriter Gary Nunn, he said, "'Red River is culturally diverse and hosts 'the friendliest people and prettiest women you've ever seen.'"

We asked Mora a few questions about the association, and what music fans can look forward to this weekend. Here are the highlights.

Why should our readers make the trek to Red River for this festival?

Our festival remains one of the most affordable events of its kind. Beautiful Red River is a perfect host town for our family and pet-friendly event, the weather is perfect in Northern New Mexico in August [and] everyone deserves to experience wholesome family fun in a rural mountain setting, much like it was in the hill country of eastern Kentucky where bluegrass music was born. And, once you attend our festival, you'll never miss another.

What is the history of your organization, now in its 45th year?

The Southwest Pickers Bluegrass and Traditional Music Festival has a long and illustrious history, beginning in 1974 as the Santa Fe Banjo and Fiddle Contest, and originally run by the Santa Fe Friends of Old-Time Music. The group incorporated in 1989 as a nonprofit organization [and] is arguably the most enduring festival of its kind in the state of New Mexico and Southwest region. The group sustains itself primarily through the generosity of the public, grants, fundraisers and special events during the entire year.

Why does an organization exist specifically for guitar pickers?

Actually, our organizational moniker may be a bit of a misnomer - we are not specifically a "guitar picker" organization. In fact, we promote the picking of all acoustic instruments associated with bluegrass and other forms of traditional music: guitar, banjo, fiddle, bass fiddle, dobro, mandolin, washtub, washboard, fiddle-sticks and the list goes on. As for genre? Yes, we are interested in bluegrass music. But we do dabble in old time and other forms of traditional folk music.

Who will fans be able to jam with?

Fans can jam with other festival attendees, amateur and professional "hosted" jam leaders and the booked talent. What is unique about our festival is that we make sure the talent we book for our festival is accessible. It's not uncommon to see fans mingling, jamming, getting signatures and pictures, dining and relaxing with our talent acts.

Anything else you think is important for our readers to know if they plan to attend?

Bring your portable seating. Pickin', grinnin' and singin' can pop up just about anywhere, [and ] prepare for surprise summer showers. Red River is very pet-friendly, and bring your instrument.

Single day passes are $9. Multiple day pass are $27. Red River is located along State Road 38 east of Questa via State Road 522, north of Taos. For more information, schedules and performer lineup, visit southwestpickers-festival.org/schedule-2019.

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