Pacific Ocean Bluegrass is the brainchild of Scott Gates, a 14 year old mandolin player from California’s High Desert region. He assembled a band composed entirely of other California teens, and they take their bluegrass seriously. They also take exposing the music to their contemporaries seriously, playing for school assemblies around the state.
Mimi Gates, who represents the band, tells us that the school assemblies are a big hit, and that seeing young folks their age playing bluegrass has an even more dramatic impact on the young audiences than even seeing a professional band perform.
There is no gimmick, no hyping CD sales. Just pure, simple exposure to this good music. The children go home, tell their parents about the assembly, and many have asked to be taken to bluegrass festivals.
She also shared a bit of background on the members of the group.
Scott Gates, age 14, began playing mandolin at 8 years old. Angelica Grim, age 17, from Modesto, was exposed to bluegrass music at a very early age by her father. She is now an excellent bluegrass singer. Scott asked Angelica to be the lead singer in his band at the first annual Supergrass Festival in Bakersfield, CA in 2006. She accepted, and with that they fleshed out the band with banjo player Victor Skidanenko, 16, from San Jose, Paul Davis, 17, on flatpick guitar from Santa Cruz, and Julian Conn Busch, 14, from Scotts Valley on bass.
Two more young up-and-coming musicians from California perform with Pacific Ocean Bluegrass when the occasion allows. They are Katie Nakamura, 11,fiddle, from Long Beach, and Aissa Lee, 8, from Tracy, who sings brilliantly. Keep a close eye on her. She also backs herself up with a baby Martin guitar, baby banjo, baby fiddle or baby bass or mandolin. She’s just GOT IT, but her vocals are AMAZING.
Pacific Ocean Bluegrass is currently running a fundraiser to benefit the California Bluegrass Association’s Music Camp Scholarship Fund. Any sales of their Festival Kids CD between September 1-15 will generate a donation of $3.00 so that a child who would otherwise be unable to attend Music Camp, can have the opportunity to do so.
Mimi mentioned that these young folks all have supportive families, and understand that being serious about music doesn’t mean they can neglect their education. Good grades are a requirement to remaining with the band, as is treating each other (and their respective families) with courtesy and respect.
You can find some audio and video clips of these exceptional young musicians on the Pacific Ocean Bluegrass web site.