RAPID CITY, S.D. — South Dakota is a long way from the heart of bluegrass country, but the Black Hills Bluegrass Festival has persisted and is thriving under the direction of the Black Hills Bluegrass Association.
Lynn Greff, Bluegrass Association Board Member, says, “Our heartfelt mission is to bring bluegrass music to the Black Hills area and keep that style that genre of music alive. It’s been described as real music for real people and that is what bluegrass is, it’s very inter-generational, there are young players that will sit right beside an old veteran and they will have a great time making great music together.”
The Festival celebrates 40 years and is a three-day event that boasts national touring groups as well as local talent. There’s also a Sunday Morning Gospel Music Show, Workshops, Arts and Crafts show, and demonstrations throughout the weekend, as well as kids workshops.
Greff says, “Saturday morning is filled with workshops, so these players that are coming from all areas of the country tell us, this is what I do and how I do it and they teach us and so they are free workshops to attend and learn your instrument a little bit better.”
It is a great way to renew friendships and jams are encouraged after the shows.
“Bluegrass players either use tablature or play by ear or have an old veteran show them, this is how I play this song and those songs are handed down generation upon generation,” adds Greff.
The festival presents more than just bluegrass. There is Celtic, Folk, Old Time, as well as Contemporary and Traditional Bluegrass.
The Bluegrass Association also is staffed entirely by volunteers who love the music. They are looking for new members. The festival is June 25th through 27th at the Rush No More Campground near Sturgis.
Greff says, “The main reason I would encourage someone to attend out festival, well a couple, first off, it’s just fun and second it’s a chance to learn an instrument better and thirdly it just helps keep bluegrass music alive in our area and we want that to stay so the young kids and there are a lot of young players that are 12 years old, learning how to play a fiddle now and so they need to be exposed to that and have a venue to express their musical abilities too.”
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