Revival of Temecula Bluegrass Music Festival brings help to Valley school music programs

The huge covered staging arena at Tucalota Creek Ranch is the scene of top bluegrass groups who played during the revived Temecula Bluegrass Festival April 28-30 in Temecula to benefit local high school bands and talented young musicians. Tony Ault photo
The huge covered staging arena at Tucalota Creek Ranch is the scene of top bluegrass groups who played during the revived Temecula Bluegrass Festival April 28-30 in Temecula to benefit local high school bands and talented young musicians. Tony Ault photo

The return of the annual Temecula Valley Bluegrass Festival this past weekend brought some of the top bluegrass bands in the nation to the rustic Tucalota Creek Ranch all to benefit local school music programs and music student scholarships.

“This was just what we expected,” Tim Moyer of Moyer Entertainment Group, said. “We saw nearly 1,000 visitors come and enjoy the intimate festival that was enjoyable in a very easy way at the ranch. And this time it was all for nonprofit causes.” Moyer Entertainment Group organized the comeback of the Temecula Bluegrass Festival which was dropped from the city of Temecula’s calendar last year.

The event made the sounds of bluegrass music, country gospel and traditional country music ring even truer to the tradition of early America to some visitors who camped right next to corrals housing some of the top world western cutting, dressage and running horses being trained by internationally known trainers.

Tucalota Creek Ranch owners Kay and Alan Needle and son Josh were pleased with the special event at their 22-acre, professional horse training ranch and their by-invitation only TCR Cellars winery at 39560 Benton Road outside of Temecula.

“We don’t have many events here,” Kay Needle said, sitting in the VIP section of the large arena where the bands played. “This is special.”

Alan Needle said they hope to work with Moyer on other special events at the ranch.

The whinnies of horses and the hoot of owls added to the nighttime jamming of many of the performers, the other bluegrass musicians from the Southwest Bluegrass Association and other bluegrass associations coming to the event Friday and Saturday. While the jamming continued, children, walking hand-in-hand with their parents, oohed and aahed at the groomed horses with their new foals in the well-maintained stables. It was some of the Old Wild West and Appalachia coming alive again.

Friday afternoon, April 28, the gates of Temecula Creek Ranch swung open to welcome festival-goers to full lineup of bluegrass and country western musicians on the Main Stage including the California time-appropriate opening group, “Drought Tolerant Bluegrass Band.” They were followed by some of the newer bands “Slingo Rags,” “The Bluegrass Ghosts,” “TBA” and “Wild Oats” and longtime bluegrass band “Damascus Road” with their gospel and rich mountain sounds closing the night.

Some of the Main Stage bands switched over the Single Mic Stage on the hay bale strewn lawn near the Frog Pond to play again with other performers including “Wilfax,” “Dulaney and Co,” “John Rankin” and rising music star Will Champlin who brought his own brand of original rock music.

Saturday opened with the country and bluegrass sounds of the highly recognized “Desperado” group followed by “Chris and Serna & Bluegrass Republic” who made two appearances, “Grasslands,” “Gone Tomorrow,” “Prairie Sky,” “Damascus Road” also in their second appearance, “MohaviSoul,” “Salty Suites” and the closing act, nationally acclaimed headliners “Jeff Scroggins and Colorado” taking the main stage.

Saturday once again saw main-stager bands cross over to the more intimate Single Mic Stage including “Keenwild,” “Isaiah Olsen,” “Joe Gillaspie,” Lady Rogo” and “Chi McClean.” The Single Mic Stage saw Champlin again present some of his original songs like “Borrowing Trouble,” and others he co-wrote with or sang with Santana, Billy Ray Cyrus, Glen Frey of the Eagles and especially with his songwriting work on Heather Handley’s 2010 “Audience of One.” He also played his piano rendition of Michael Jackson’s last record. Champlain is well-known for reaching the Top 3 of Season 5 of “THE VOICE.”

The festival toned down a bit Sunday with some rich gospel music from the “Sweet Tidings Gospel” band and the “Bluegrass Brethren Gospel Band,” who will be celebrating their 40th Reunion Concert July 9 at the Arbor Road Church in Lakewood.

Moyer said all the profits from this year’s Temecula Bluegrass Festival will be used to help provide much-needed funds to school music education programs and the Moyer Entertainment Group MRG Scholarship Fund that offers help to less fortunate students that show exceptional scholastic dedication and artistic ability. Many of the local middle and high schools have been forced to cut back their music education programs to meet the rising education budget costs and continuing cutbacks in state and federal educational entitlements. He noted the approximately $10,000 needed to produce the festival has been paid and “all” the remaining funds from admissions will go the MRG Scholarships and school music programs.

They held a charity raffle that gave away a donated Deering Goodtime Banjo, a Taylor A10e Guitar and a Fishman Music Box; the prizes went to three lucky $2 ticket winners.

Other sponsors to the special event were Temecula Valley RV, The Valley News, Valley Business Journal, Echo and Buzz, Southwest Bluegrass Association, San Diego Bluegrass Society, IBMA, San Diego Bluegrass and Folk Club, 8bit Brewing, Comfort Inns, Rancon Real Estate, DM Deadline, EAR Trumpet Lab, D’Addario Guitar Strings, BASC, MEG and HeyDay Music.

The “Chords and Vines” music program from Internet Radio was also at the Bluegrass Festival, highlighting the Needles TCR Cellars winery.

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