Drive-In grass: John Jorgenson Bluegrass Band in Ventura County

When the COVID-19 shutdowns were announced, we made the decision not to announce every festival and concert cancellation, as there were just too many. It would have been simpler to say, all of them, in fact.

But it is much more encouraging these days to point out shows that will be going on as scheduled, even if they are accompanied with imaginative precautions to ease attendee concerns about safety.

Just such is a concert set for next Thursday in Ventura County, California for a socially-distanced, drive-in show at the Ventura County Fairgrounds with the John Jorgenson Bluegrass Band. This west coast supergroup features Jorgenson on mandolin and vocals, supported by the legendary Herb Pedersen on banjo, Patrick Sauber on guitar, and Mark Fain on bass.

Billed as Ventura Music Festival at the Drive In, concert-goers will park in rows and enjoy the music in their vehicles. Sight lines to the stage will be preserved, and the music will be broadcast over low-power FM radio, so each attendee can listen with their own car radio. That sure beats the tinny old speakers from the old drive in days!

The gates for this 8:00 p.m. event will open 90 minutes before show time so that people can enjoy a picnic supper or drinks on the grass, but no concessions will be provided. Bring your own is the rule, and plan to sit apart from other attendees. Porta-potties will be provided, but organizers request that everyone remain in their cars if possible once the music begins.

The Ventura Music Festival, which usually runs in July each year, was forced to postpone most concerts until 2021, but have managed to offer a few using the drive in concept. It seems a clever solution where close mingling is still prevented by local or state government fiat, or where music lovers feel uncertain about attending large public gatherings.

Tickets for the John Jorgenson Bluegrass Band show are available for online-only purchase through EventBrite. No drive-up tickets will be offered so that the number of cars can be controlled in advance.

More details about VMF at the Drive In can be found online.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.