Barcelona Bluegrass Camp 2022 report

Thanks to the organizers of the Barcelona Bluegrass Camp for sharing this report (with photos) of their 2022 event, held earlier this month in the Catalan region of Spain. It should be encouraging to bluegrass lovers everywhere to see the continued growth of the music outside of the land where it was born. The report was written by Michael Luchtan and Xavier Cardus.

Hello bluegrass family and friends,

We are happy to send an update on the successful return of the Barcelona Bluegrass Camp: on March 4th and 5th, we celebrated the 7th Barcelona Bluegrass Camp. The camp provided the meeting place for more than 80 people coming from different countries (Spain, France, Belgium, Switzerland, Holland, and the UK). This event is the most important Bluegrass Camp done in Spain.

The Camp took place at the La Sedeta Building, an old textile factory located in the Eixample district of Barcelona with a concert hall and several classrooms to do the musical teaching.

Two years ago, at the fifth Barcelona Bluegrass Camp, held the first weekend of March 2020, we had no idea of the massive changes that would come crashing into our community just a few days later. The sudden and extended succession of activities was hard on ourselves and our community. Luckily we didn’t lose any of our musical community to COVID, although we lost parents, grandparents, sisters, brothers, and friends.

It’s a testament to the power of music, and the enduring bonds that it fosters to create community, that we were able to persevere, without the driving impulse and energy that comes from playing music together. Yes, there were internal struggles, hopelessness, lethargy, pessimism, but we have made it through to the other end, still dedicated to preserving the culture of bluegrass, the knowledge, expertise, exposure, connections, and community that we have fostered for over twenty years.

We made it back to our home base of La Sedeta, thanks to Esperanza Álvarez (Director of La Sedeta), and her willingness to put up with our group of musicians playing music together in every possible crevice), but things were different. We still had the big opening night jam on Friday in the bar, but the bar hasn’t been open in two years! It was definately the most sober Barcelona Bluegrass Camp we have ever had, as there was not a readily available supply of beers just downstairs.

The Camp started on Friday, March 4, with more than 30 people playing together in the opening Big Jam.

After the jam we had the teacher’s concert. Usually, we like to bring in an instructor from outside our community to share their expertise, for example Tony Trischka at the last camp before the pandemic. But with the uncertainty of planning we faced, we were only able to get two outside instructors to join our ranks, and our local experts came forward to be Camp instructors. The instructors took the stage and played classic bluegrass tunes. The auditorium was full and everyone really enjoyed listening to bluegrass and old-time music.

Our instructors were:

  • Eugene O’Brien and Lluis Gómez – Bluegrass Banjo
  • Paul Van Vlodroop – Mandolin
  • Oriol Saña – Bluegrass Fiddle
  • Mich Depew – Old-Time Fiddle
  • David Prat – Old-Time Banjo
  • Gnaposs – Flatpicking Guitar
  • Joan Pau Cumellas – Harmonica
  • Maribel Rivero – Kids Bluegrass Ensemble

Campers are familiar with what to expect at this point. We have the opening jam and teachers conference on Friday night, instrument classes on Saturday morning, take an extended break for a family lunch, camp photo, and to jam, followed by rehearsing with combos, and finally the student concert on Saturday, when we announce the winner of our raffle for a year’s membership to ArtistWorks.

The student concert was a big success. We had more than eight combos of varying levels, coached by the instructors and Al Ras organizers. The Kids Bluegrass Ensemble, composed of guitars, banjos, and fiddle played by kids from 9-14 years old, headed by all-star instructor Maribel Rivero was a great success.

After the Kids, everyone got a chance to be on stage as the combos, one after another, presented the songs they had prepared together.

At the end of the concert, all the participants got up on stage to play the Camp Song. It was impressive: a lot of banjos, guitars, mandolins, fiddles, harmonicas, etc. all playing together.

The raffle (a year of free learning from ArtistWorks) went to two slow-jammers, so we look forward to seeing how they progress over the next year!

The 7th Barcelona Bluegrass Camp was a big bluegrass party, and everyone who attended took home a great memory. Thanks to everyone who came and participated, and we hope to see you again next year! The 8th Barcelona Bluegrass Camp will be March 3 and 4, 2023, and we have already confirmed some amazing instructors.

The list is too long, but we want to thank the teachers, the organizers, the photographers, our sound engineer, the sponsors, and everyone at La Sedeta:

Organizers: Lluís Gómez, Jorge Rodríguez, Joan Manel Hernández, Michael Luchtan, Xavier Cardús and Ignasi Cardús

Photographers: Josep Cequiel and Josep Ponsá

Sound engineer: Albert Guitart

Sponsors: Ajuntament de Barcelona, Al Ras Associació, Shubb capos, ArtistWorks, Northfield, and Cuerdas Gato Negro