Frankly Bluegrass Music Festival launches in Plymouth, CA

Bluegrass music is set to return to Plymouth in northern California this fall with the debut of the Frankly Bluegrass Music Festival in October.

For many years the Plymouth Bluegrass festival had been operated by Larry and Sondra Baker, and it was very popular with grassers in the state capitol region, as it was located roughly 50 miles from Sacramento. But the Bakers retired and moved to Oregon, and the last festival in Plymouth was ten years ago.

Enter J&J promotions, made up of well-known bluegrass personalities Joe and Jokey Michel, whose presence at California festivals has been a given for some time. The husband and wife pair purchased the food vending business that the Bakers had also operated, and you see them selling hot dogs each year at Grass Valley. They have also promoted some smaller bluegrass concerts in the northern part of the state.

October 11-13 of 2024 they will promote their first full-scale festival, the Frankly Bluegrass Music Festival, at the Amador County Fairgrounds in Plymouth, CA. The festival name was chosen in honor of Frank Solivan, Sr, and their poster for this first event uses his iconic mustache as a tribute.

Jokey (aka Teresa) tells us that she and her husband, Joe, have been close with the Solivans for many years.

I always called him Uncle Frank Solivan, my uncle not by blood, but I thought of him that way. His mom, Bonnie Ventura, was a musician, and my dad was a fiddler. He met Frank’s mom, Granma Bonnie, back in the early ’50s, because they lived near each other in Thornton. My dad played music with Bonnie and her family at square dances, and we all grew up playing together.

Heck, I changed Frank II’s diapers when he was a baby!”

Uncle Frank was a banjo player, and an extremely influential member of the California Bluegrass Association during his lifetime. He is credited for launching their highly successful Kids on Bluegrass Program more than three decades ago, based on seeing how getting stage time affected his son, Frank II, as he was a developing teen bluegrass musician. The program has since nurtured and developed a great many young artists on the way to professional careers, including major success stories like Molly Tuttle, AJ Lee, Crying Uncle, Broken Compass Bluegrass, and many others.

Jokey also suggested that local pickers will be familiar with the Amador Fair grounds, as it has hosted the Bluegrass in the Foothills jamming festival, as well as the old Plymouth fest.

For 2024, Frankly Bluegrass has booked Special Consensus, Dave Adkins, Wayne Taylor & Appaloosa, as well as a number of California artists like Crying Uncle and Broken Compass. Frank Solivan II will also appear with Chris Luquette, and they will offer a Kids on Bluegrass reunion program.

Tickets go on sale online May 3, and campers will be welcomed in on October 9. RV hookups and rough camping spots will be available as well.

J&J want everyone to know that they plan to keep the same vibe as the Bakers provided when they ran the Plymouth Bluegrass festival in years past. Jokey says that Larry Baker has been very helpful in getting things set up for Frankly Bluegrass.

Full details 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.