Article FESTIVALS

February 2015
Tucson’s Desert Bluegrass Festival ending its 14-year run

It is with regret that the Tucson’s Desert Bluegrass Festival (TDBF) committee with approval from the Desert Bluegrass Association (DBA) Board of Directors has decided not to continue producing the fall festival.

For four years the DBA has been involved with the production of two festivals per year. A fall festival (TDBF) and a spring festival (The Marana Bluegrass Festival). The loss of the AVA Venue coupled with limited volunteer leadership resources available for the TDBF brought us to this decision.

We will move forward with the tradition of bluegrass festivals in Tucson at the Marana Bluegrass Festival.

We would like to thank the loyal Fall Festival fans that attended the festival over the past fourteen years. The TDBF was produced by the DBA from 2000 to 2013. During that time we had over 10,000 paid attendees who saw 84 bands grace the stage at three venues.

Mike Headrick longtime festival coordinator and DBA Board Member sums it up nicely:

“I am sad that this is the case.  I always hoped that all the work and effort would pay off with something bigger and better in the future.  However, life does not always, or even usually, work that way – things blossom, then fade.  Other things grow in their place.  Our fall festivals were something to be enjoyed in the moment and there are many things, which I enjoyed about them.  I enjoyed the teamwork which we shared as we planned and executed each festival.  Thanks to each of you for your part of that.

I enjoyed the friends from far and near who gathered for one weekend each year to celebrate the music, which we love.  For me, it was a real coming together of my old Colorado band mates, my Tucson friends and neighbors, my Phoenix friends, my Jam Pak friends, the Old Blue crew and kindred spirits from all over the Southwest.

I enjoyed bringing world-class bluegrass music to Tucson.  Just think of the artists who we brought here – the Gibson Brothers, Blue Highway, Cherryholmes, IIIrd Tyme Out, JD Crowe, Joe Mullins, Sierra Hull, Chris Jones, Special Consensus, Dale Ann Bradley, Blue Moon Rising, Kathy Kallick, Dry Branch Fire Squad, David Parmley, Karl Shifflet and many more.

In the Bluegrass world, these include male vocalists of the year, female vocalists of the year, emerging artists of the year, entertainers of the year and many instrumentalists of the year – all performing in our corner of the desert.  I loved bringing this quality of bluegrass to town and meeting these stars of bluegrass.  We also supported many local bands.  Some were experienced professionals, others just starting to showcase their talents.  I enjoyed seeing them share the same stage and same audience as our headliners.  And speaking of emerging talent, I enjoyed our band contests which gave opportunity to all to perform and generous rewards to those who won.  We even gave questionable talent the chance to shine in our drop of the hat band scramble.

I even enjoyed some but not all of the unplanned happenings – the rattlesnakes in the restrooms, the missing bands, getting cash for bands so they can gas up the bus, security enforcement of the nudity ban in the campground, etc.   All in all, Tucson’s Annual Desert Bluegrass Festival was a class act and I am proud to have been a part of it.
Now I guess it is time to move on.”

We invite you to share your memories of the TDBF on our Facebook page – Tucson’s Annual Desert Bluegrass Festival

The DBA is committed to promoting Bluegrass music in Southern Arizona and we will continue bringing you the best in bluegrass music at the Marana Bluegrass Festival.  The Town of Marana has opened their arms to the DBA and strongly supported our new festival. As a result, the festival started with local Arizona bands has flourished and grown.  Last year’s festival introduced a national headliner band – a tradition continued this year. This year’s festival will introduce a flatpicking contest on Friday night. Please join us this year April 10-12 in Marana. More information can be found athttp://www.maranafestival.com