Lake photo by Lola Sherstobitoff
Dear Friends, The Blue Waters Bluegrass Festival Board of Directors regrets to say that we must postpone the 2021 festival. It is very disappointing to have this happen again. We were quite hopeful for this summer, and met the recent announcement about the opening of Washington State with excitement. However, due to logistical issues and time constraints, we realize that it is not possible to put on the quality of festival the community has come to enjoy and expect for 2021. We greatly appreciate the support from the community over the last year and the enthusiastic response to our survey. We look forward to meeting with you all by the blue waters of Medical Lake once again.
August 12-14, 2022 will be our 20th anniversary and we plan to make it one to remember! Please mark your calendars for the second weekend in August 2022.
Nestled in the pines on the shores of Medical Lake, Washington, the Blue Waters Bluegrass Festival is quite possibly the best summertime bluegrass experience in the Northwest. With it's pristine location, warm Eastern Washington summer weather, stellar lineup of world-class and regional bands, and bargain-basement price, it's no wonder folks all over the Northwest Bluegrass scene are buzzing about us.
Since its inception in 2002, Blue Waters has brought some of the biggest names in bluegrass music to the Inland Northwest, including The Seldom Scene, Dan Tyminski, the Steep Canyon Rangers, Della Mae, Laurie Lewis & Tom Rozum, Rob Ickes & Trey Hensley, Darrell Scott, The Lonely Heartstring Band, Kathy Kallick, Chatham County Line, Front Country, Jody Stecher & Kate Brislin, Mountain Heart, Crooked Still, The Infamous Stringdusters, Kenny & Amanda Smith, John Reischman & the Jaybirds, the Greencards, Martha Scanlan, Dirk Powell, the Josh Williams Band, and many, many others.
Blue Waters is a 501(c)-3 nonprofit organization run entirely by volunteers. Our budget is small and depends heavily on the contributions of sponsors and individuals. By becoming a "Friend of the Festival" you can help us keep the cost affordable for other festival-goers and the entertainment quality high for future festivals. Just click the button below to get started.
Like the powerful mandolinist and composer at its helm, John Reischman & the Jaybirds fashion a stylish take on bluegrass that seamlessly blends original songs and instrumentals with Appalachian old-time music for a truly unique band sound. Now in their 20th year, with seven acclaimed albums and two Juno nominations, the Jaybirds are simultaneously innovative and unadorned, sophisticated and stripped-down, happily old-fashioned and 21st-century contemporary.
Bluegrass Unlimited calls John Reischman “one of the world’s undisputed masters” of the mandolin, famed for outstanding tone and taste. Many of his dozens of original instrumentals have become popular favourites for sessions and covers, such as the jam standard Saltspring. He has three critically-acclaimed solo instrumental albums and has recorded on many other projects, including the Grammy-winning True Life Blues: The Songs of Bill Monroe. John also plays Latin-based jazz and choro music with highly regarded finger-style acoustic guitarist/composer John Miller; the duo has released three superb albums.
Saturday - 9:00pm, Sunday - 4:00pm
Friday - 9:00pm, Saturday - 3:30pm
The Lonesome Ace Stringband is a Canadian old-time band with bluegrass chops that play some righteous folk and country music. There's a depth of groove and sense of space not often heard in bluegrass today, a level of instrumental interplay and vocal blend uncommon in old-time, and an on-stage rapport that transcends all of this. Band members Chris Coole (banjo), John Showman (fiddle) and Max Heineman (bass) are each journeyman musicians and veterans of some of Canada's top roots music acts (New Country Rehab, The David Francey Band, The Foggy Hogtown Boys, Fiver).
Instrumentation alone instantly sets LAS's sound apart: consisting of just fiddle, clawhammer banjo, and upright bass, the band moves freely between having a sound so powerful that it doesn't seem like it should be coming from a trio, to a sparseness and fragility that draws the listener in and refreshes the ear. All three are compelling lead singers, each with his own character and range. This allows for the vocal texture to shift depending on how the song needs to feel - and what the song has to say. When those voices come together the power of the harmonies is unshakable. It's clear to anyone who's heard LAS that they just don't sound like any other band.
Ben Winship is a self-made musician who has carved out a niche for himself behind the potato curtain* and under the radar of commercial music. His routine is a constantly shifting mix of performing, recording, engineering and teaching. Mandolin is Ben’s primary ax, but he is also a well respected songwriter, singer and multi-instrumentalist. In 2019, Ben released not one but TWO critically-aclaimed new albums of roots music, "Acorns" and "Toolshed".
One of the most tasteful and innovative of young American musicians, Seattle-based Eli West has become a highly regarded figure in the Americana music scene over the past few years. Old and new, folk and jazz, vocal and instrumental, odd and accessible, subtle and virtuosic…. it takes great skill and care to make music that sounds this natural! With an interest in angular phrasing and non-traditional improvisation within the historic precedents of bluegrass and old-time music, his playing both grounds and pushes the ensembles he is involved with. He has released three records as half of the new/old-time duo Cahalen Morrison & Eli West, a solo album "The Both" that featured guest appearances by Bill Frisell and Dori Freeman (among others), and a duo album with Norwegian Hardanger Fiddle player Olav Mjelva.
Friday - 8:00pm, Saturday - 2:30pm
Saturday - 8:00pm, Sunday - 2:00pm
The Onlies began as a trio of lifelong friends and musical collaborators who realized early on that they shared a fascination with traditional fiddle music. Leo Shannon, Samantha Braman, and Riley Calcagno started making music together at age seven (2005), and quickly became immersed in fiddle music and tradition in their home of Seattle, down the West Coast, and across the world. In recent years, they have developed their sound with the addition of Vivian Leva, an acclaimed talent of old-time, country, and Americana.
Their albums have charted on radio stations around the country, and they have had the opportunity to perform and collaborate with Elvis Costello, Darol Anger, Bruce Molsky, Laurie Lewis, Altan, Tristan Clarridge, and John Herrmann. Their fiddle, banjo, and guitar playing have become a fixture in a wave of young people who are studying and engaging with the old time tradition with a deep respect for the history of the music and people who make it, as well as a curiosity about how old time music fits into contemporary sounds and culture.
The 5th installment of our "Blue Waters Tribute Series" will be a special tribute to a true American Original: John Hartford. Between the 1960s until his death in the early 2000s, Hartford was a regular guest and contributor on the Glen Campbell Good Time Hour and the Smothers Brothers Show, Ken Burns’ landmark Civil War series, and the hugely popular “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” soundtrack. He won Grammy awards in three different decades, recorded a catalog of more than 30 albums, and wrote one of the most popular songs of all time, Gentle On My Mind. But that hardly explains John Hartford.
John Hartford was a multi-talented old-time musician, a riverboat captain, a satirical songwriter, a one-man showman of exceptional talents, and one of the founders of both progressive country music and old-time string music revivalism. He was a prolific recording artist who's recordings ranged across old-timey fiddle music, bluegrass and newgrass, folk, blues, jazz, and country. He also invented his own shuffle tap dance move, and clogged on an amplified piece of plywood while he played and sang.
The Tribute Series has become one of the most popular and unique features of the Blue Waters Bluegrass Festival. Continuing the tradition we have established with our past tributes to Bill Monroe (2014), Hazel Dickens (2015), The Stanley Brothers (2017), and Doc Watson (2018) this set provides an opportunity to learn about the life of one of bluegrass music's most beloved and influential artists, with biographical narration and anecdotes provided between songs by Blue Waters Music Director Kevin Brown. The songs will be performed by artists and bands from across our lineup.
Saturday - 7:00pm
Saturday - 4:30pm, Sunday - 3:00pm
Chris Luquette and Nick Dumas both grew up as Washington boys — Dumas in Brier, Luquette in Renton — and even before they’d moved to New York and Tennessee, respectively, they credited their old home state with acquainting them both with an assortment of musical styles, from Brazilian jazz to bluegrass. Luquette went on to play guitar in the twice Grammy-nominated and IBMA "Instrumental Group of the Year"-winning band Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen. Dumas moved to Tennessee in 2015 to become the mandolin player for the band “The Special Consensus” before settling in Wisconsin.
Both artists released long-awaited, critically-acclaimed solo projects in the past year. We are fortunate to have a rare duo appearance from these Northwest natives on our 2022 Blue Waters lineup!
Northbound band members were drawn to the Inland Northwest from different places and different backgrounds. Together, they share a deep love of bluegrass music. Individually, the members are experienced musicians and have played bluegrass and country music in bands throughout the West and Southwest. As a band, Northbound took shape in 2018 after meeting and playing together at various festivals and jams. New friends with old souls deeply rooted in traditional bluegrass music. Noel Taggart on mandolin has gained a reputation as one of the finest lead vocalists around. Dennis Nowack is an award winning five-string banjo man. The rhythm section includes Jonathan Hawkins on bass, Kent & Karen Riggs on guitar and singing harmony. Jean Ballhorn on fiddle is a veteran of the Colorado bluegrass scene and has performed and recorded with Charles Sawtelle, Open Road, Camptown and many others. Northbound performs a finely honed blend of traditional, contemporary, original, and gospel bluegrass music. With tight vocal harmony and hard driving instrumentals, Northbound is sure to delight any audience!
Sunday - 12:00pm
Sunday - 1:00pm
The Riders of the Rockin’ B are the main attraction of each toe-tappin’, knee slappin’ evening of family entertainment at the Rockin’ B Ranch Cowboy Supper Show. Originally conceived as a Western Swing band, they have refined their style into a sophisticated blend of Western, Jazz, Texas fiddling, Classical, and humor. Their hallmark is their singular 5-part vocals, taking the tradition of the Sons of the Pioneers into a new level of polish unto itself.
The Riders consist of: Gordon Grove (Percussion, Vocals, Songwriter), Teague Starbuck (Guitar, Vocals), Taylor Dobrenski (Fiddle, Vocals), and Scott and Pamela Brownlee, host and hostess of the Rockin B. Scott and Pamela started the Rockin’ B Ranch Cowboy Supper Show in ‘94. Scott holds down the bottom on his 130 year old (it looks it) doghouse bass and bass vocals. He is also the arranger of the band’s five part vocals. Pamela is the vocal core of the band. She’s been performing since age 11. The Riders are the grateful benefactors of all that experience with her stage and vocal coaching.
"Buck 99" is a new Bluegrass group, from the North Idaho Panhandle. These four pickers have been enjoying music together since 2012. They are: Larry Easterly on bass, Steve Allen on banjo, guitar & vocals, Randy Engle on mandolin, guitar & vocals, and Dan Howard on guitar & vocals. Their craft in blending acoustic instruments and vocals to promote Bluegrass, Country, and Gospel music is impressive. Buck 99" made their debut in January 2019, at the monthly INBMA Showcase, in Spokane Valley, Washington. They play weekly at the Silver Lake Mall, in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, and at a variety of other events in the Inland Northwest.
Friday - 7:00pm
Saturday - 1:30pm
King Trouble and the Cherry Pickers are an up and coming young string band from Spokane. The band features Ethan Lotrario (15) on bass, Everett Skubinna (15) on mandolin and guitar, and Siena Lotrario (13) on fiddle and vocals. They have played together since almost forever, but have played music as a band for nearly six years now (almost half of Siena's age!).
KT&TCP have performed at numerous festivals and venues, such as The Fall Folk Festival, Spokane Public Library, and the INBMA showcase. During Blue Waters they can often be found helping at Blu Camp, jamming on their own in a hidden corner somewhere, or paddle-boarding on the lake. Their unique sound comes from a traditional and old-time background which is supported by their classical training. It all adds up to superior musicianship, a diverse repertoire and an infectiously fun sound!
The Eyer Family Band loves playing music together. They play kid tunes, folk songs, bluegrass numbers and American classics. Both girls started playing their instruments at four years old, taking lessons from amazing music Inland Northwest teachers. The band, won 1st place in the band competition at the 2019 Leavenworth International Accordion Celebration.
Friday - 6:00pm
All performances will take place rain or shine!
Sign up at the front gate on Friday after noon.
|6:00pm||The Eyer Family Band|
|8:00pm||Ben Winship & Eli West|
|9:00pm||Lonesome Ace Stringband|
|1:30pm||King Trouble & the Cherry Pickers|
|2:30pm||Ben Winship & Eli West|
|3:30pm||Lonesome Ace Stringband|
|4:30pm||Nick Dumas, Chris Luquette, West Coast Bluegrass Trio|
|7:00pm||A Tribute to John Hartford|
|9:00pm||John Reischman & The Jaybirds|
|1:00pm||Riders of the Rockin' B Ranch|
|3:00pm||Nick Dumas, Chris Luquette, West Coast Bluegrass Trio|
|4:00pm||John Reischman & The Jaybirds|
Workshops are held in the picnic shelter along the walkway west of the swimming area. Just follow the walkway past the bathrooms and you will find it near the 2nd ballfield.
The workshop schedule will be posted this summer.
Volunteers are an essential part of the Blue Waters Bluegrass Festival. We are so fortunate to have a large group of generous, enthusiastic, friendly, and hard working volunteers. The volunteers are the first to greet visitors when they arrive, and set the tone for a fun filled weekend.
If you are interested in being a part of our volunteer team, click the link below to download our volunteer form:
In addition to all the fine music during the weekend, folks can get some great eats and browse through our crafts vendor area. We limit the number of unique food vendors so each unit has a chance to do well for the weekend; craft vendors have prime space and all are welcome! All the vendors are outside the festival fence line, so anyone using the park has access which contributes to your success! Please download the form below or contact us for more information.
Washington State has closed the West Medical lake Resort and the area is fenced off; there is no camping or RV services anymore. Parking West Medical Lake will be limited to the main lot (which requires a Discover Pass permit) or along the roadside. We will continue to monitor and serve the area with golf cart transportation to/from the festival site.
Weekend camping passes are only $40, and are available online or at the festival gate. Please note that a weekend festival pass is required of all campers.
Blue Waters offers two camping areas:
NEW to the area is a beautiful new RV resort at Northern Quest Casino; pool, lounge, 1-2 bedroom cabins and easy access to all the restaurants and services at the casino. There is also a Movie & Dinner theater with 8 screens! Visit WWW.NQRVRESORT.COM for more information and to reserve an RV spot or cabin. . Norther Quest is only 10 minutes away from Waterfront Park and the festival.
For those out-of-town guests who are not interested in camping, there are several quality hotels within a short drive of the festival. We encourage you to check out the establishments below. Several of these hotels have become friends and sponsors of our festival and we can wholeheartedly recommend their establishments.
Other nearby hotels:
You are welcome to bring your own picnic food, although we also have plenty of food vendors. There are picnic tables available near the back of the viewing area. Bring your own blankets and/or chairs for festival seating, but please do not bring high-back chairs or umbrellas or anything that might restrict the viewing of folks behind you.
Children under 12 are free with their parents.
Medical Lake, WA is located just west of Spokane, WA. Waterfront Park is on State Highway 902 just south of Medical Lake, WA, about 15 minutes west of Spokane, and about 3 1/2 hours east of Seattle. The park is enclosed by a canopy of tall ponderosa pines, providing cool shade for those warm and sunny Eastern Washington days.
Note to Travelers: The Spokane-Medical Lake area is on the dry side of the Cascades. A national magazine rated Spokane's summer climate as second best in the nation. Days are normally dry with temperatures in the 80's or low 90's. Nights are cool and you might need a light sweater for late jamming.
Northbound and southbound travelers should get onto I-90 and head East or West as the case may be and take the appropriate exit indicated above.