After popping my cherry in 2016, I was fully prepared for all things Bluegrass this time around at Flagstaff’s 2018 Pickin’ in the Pines Festival. I quickly set up camp, sip some whiskey and ready myself for three days of great music, no showers, and a sweet time camping in the Flagstaff pines.

For me, the best part of this festival are the people in the campgrounds. From morning until late into the night, you can hear people playing around campfires and in their tents and RV’s. Most of the bluegrass acts are also camping, so you get a great mix of styles and talent.

In the mornings I’d go out to Mormon Lake to paddle board or fish, or maybe go hiking. I’d return just before lunch to catch some music, get a bite to eat, and let the afternoon pass by under the shade of pines while more bluegrass musicians played.

These bluegrass storytellers paint a deep and visual picture of the history of this type of music, both from a personal and a historical view point. It amazes me how it has been passed down through their family genealogy, going back to the start of Bluegrass music in Americana. I appreciate how deep rooted Bluegrass is and what it means to many people.

My favorite act though was Don Flemons. Affectionately known as the American Songster, his album “Black Cowboys” blew me away. His stories about negro men and women that helped settle the Wild West opened my eyes to a part of history I’d not recognized before.

The entire audience stopped what they were doing when he started singing “Home on the Range”, singing along with him like people at a Sunday service singing along with a preacher and his choir.

Give a listen to Don.

An amazing three days of Pickin’ that rejuvenated my spirit.

Camping, fresh air, good music.

Can one really ask for anything more?

Wench, bring my ale, what say you?

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