There will be plenty of foot stompin' and fiddlin' around this weekend at the firstLake Casitas Bluegrass Festival and Contest to be held Friday through Sunday in Ojai. The festival, which organizers hope to make an annual event, will raise money for the Ventura County Library book fund, which has been cut by 80% since 1991.
The three-day extravaganza is sponsored by Oxnard's Music Box Trading Co., the same folks who, for the last three years, have brought you those great bluegrass festivals at Kenney Grove Park near Fillmore. So you can bet there'll be something for every member of the family, including concerts, music workshops and contests, food, children's events, camping and more.
On Friday and Saturday from 6 to 10 p.m., four of Southern California's premier bluegrass groups will take the stage. The five-piece Witcher Brothers band from Granada Hills features the duo of mandolin player Dennis Witcher and his 16-year-old award-winning fiddler son, Gabe. David Dickey and the Slover Mountain Boys are known for their tight, traditional harmonies.
The third group, Copperline, also leans toward traditional bluegrass, but draws from gospel and old-time country music as well. And the Grateful Dudes is a Los Angeles-based trio featuring Bill Bryson on bass, flat-picking wizard Scott Micale and fiddler Dennis Fetchet.
There will be banjo, fiddle, guitar and mandolin contests on Saturday for all age levels. And on Sunday, amateurs can participate in open microphone performances.
For more toe-tapping rhythms, check out Ventura Harbor Village's free Country Music Fest and Western Stage Show from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
On Saturday, Buck Page and the Original Riders of the Purple Sage will treat you to lovely harmonies and humor from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. Since 1936 this popular country-Western band has been cutting a trail with cowboy hits including "Don't Fence Me In," "Ghost Riders in the Sky" and "Tumbling Tumbleweeds." The fun continues Sunday when two favorite local performers join Page: Frank Umbro, a retired member of the Original Riders of the Purple Sage, and the state and national fiddle champion, Marvin Johnson.
There will also be a stunt show and a caricature of a Western movie set and jail. The event benefits the Corriganville Preservation Committee, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving and promoting a unique part of Western film history. (Ventura Harbor Village, 1559 Spinnaker Drive, Ventura, 644-0169).
CLUB UPDATES: Starting tonight at 7:30, Lori McGee will kick off a new format for the Ban-Dar's Thunder Thursday dance lessons for November and December. McGee will teach the hottest new line dances, beginning with Barroom Romeo.