The only thing that brings people together more than—if not as much as—food, is music. It might be more common for me to share an album or a song I connect with than it is to share a meal. And I make a point to share many meals with those I’m close to. Few things make me more content than putting on a record and cooking at home with a friend.
And every once in awhile, you encounter folks who share your ethos. Those behind The Bluegrass Situation—Ed Helms, Amy Reitnouer and Cameron Matthews, specifically—want to keep the tradition of folk, Americana and bluegrass alive by providing a platform online and in festival-form by featuring newer artists who honor these genres.
The community has hosted the Bluegrass Situation Festival for the past several years. After hosting the festival at Ace Hotel’s theater in Downtown Los Angeles, they graduated to the Greek Theatre in Los Feliz this year. And they faced a new challenge: they wanted to honor food in the way they honor music. The solution: barbecue and beer.
However, The Bluegrass Situation couldn’t have just anyone serving food. They had to choose vendors who mirrored their philosophy. Someone who honors tradition, but has a new twist on it, like an homage. So they included companies such as the famed Lobos Truck, Cassell’s and Status Kuo, where you could order watermelon with chili powder (their own concoction) and rotisserie porchetta on a Portuguese bun. It’s a fusion concept, much like the festival’s lineup (which included Dawes, The Lone Bellow, Gregory Alan Isakov, Punch Brothers and more), and you could eat while others played guitar and cornhole on a nearby sunny knoll like a backyard barbecue.
The festival also decided to feature Lagunitas Brewing Company, with whom they recently partnered for a Jamestown Revival show at their brewery in Northern California. By allying themselves with brands that understand their vision, The Bluegrass Situation is able to maintain authenticity.
So much about executing a festival when working with a large promoter means curating who your partners are; these partners will help you realize your vision. And The Bluegrass Situation’s brand of celebrating tradition is one that’s admirable. They’re fighting the good fight and doing so without forgetting where they came from.