We saw many of you at the Big Horn Mountain Festival a few weeks ago having the time of your lives, and boy, it sure was one heck of a weekend, full of fantastic music and good friends. What may be news to you though, is that one of the headlining groups, Horseshoes and Handgrenades, spent the whole week at the Buffalo Fairgrounds with the community’s youth, imparting their bluegrass wisdom unto the next generation.
This was not the first year for the Big Horn Mountain Festival’s Bluegrass Camp, but it was likely the biggest and best. Karen Blaney, who set up and ran the operation, shared with us her feelings on this year’s extravaganza.
In the past, the festival has hired someone to organize the camp and bring in a band, but this year, Karen and other folks decided to arrange it all themselves to bring a more specific “Buffalo” feel to the camp. They chose a local favorite to come in and teach.
“Horseshoes and Hand Grenades was a great teaching band, and we had them as well as Prairie Wildfire. Those girls all grew up going to this camp, and to have them as additional teachers allowed us to have smaller, more focused classes, and we were able to offer more classes … I asked them for a lot of feedback at first, and they gave it to me. We were able to change things up and make it a ton of fun.”
Due to the diversity of talent and experience among the leaders of the camp, they were able to offer campers a wide array of classes to facilitate growth as musicians.
“We offered classes in the five main bluegrass string instruments: guitar, fiddle, mandolin, banjo, and bass. In addition, we offered songwriting, harmony, and spoons, which I was particularly excited about. Davie of Horseshoes and Hand Grenades taught the spoons as well as Harmonica, which we had never offered a class on before.”
Karen watched the kids and instructors alike have the time of their lives teaching and learning during the week leading up to the festival. The organizers learned a lot, and hope to lead another successful camp next year.
“We’re trying to get Horseshoes and Hand Grenades back next year, but they’re breaking out big time into the bluegrass scene, which we’re super excited for them about. But, we’d be more excited if they’d come back and teach again next year.”
Karen also shared with us that Prairie Wildfire and folks affiliated with the camp are hosting numerous musical events at the Historic Occidental Hotel and other areas around the community coming up this fall. We’ll keep you posted as to how you can continue support for these programs and the budding musicians (and those who have already bloomed) in and around Johnson County.