Nofugrass 2019 report

This report from the 3rd annual Nofugrass in Spain comes from Lluis Gomez, noted Spanish banjo player and teacher.

Bluegrass and old time music is growing in Spain, with more musicians, festivals, and fans every year. Case in point is Nofugrass Fest, an annual festival now in it’s third year that takes place in Nofuentes, a small village in Burgos with only 144 residents, although the population usually increases on weekends and in the summertime.

Let me explain a little bit of history about this three year old festival. Once upon a time… hehe!!

Josemari Pulido and his wife, Estibaliz Corcuera, had a house in Nofuentes and spent their weekends and summers there. Josemari is a banjo player who played with several different bands in the Basque Country. Several years ago, I started to visit Josemari and Estibaliz at their house in Nofuentes with our good friend, Agus Zubiaga, a banjo player and luthier. Since we were all good friends, of course we took our instruments with us. It was a big surprise to see the reaction of the people of the village listening to the bluegrass music we played: they loved it!

The summer of 2016 was the first spark of inspiration for the festival, specifically with the visit of Chris Luquette, the guitar player of Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen. Chris came to Spain for a visit, and we had been playing in Barcelona and around Burgos before we spent a few days off in Nofuentes. In just a few seconds, the people of the village were in love with Chris and his music — it was great!

As you can see, we made a fake poster for a festival while Chris was there. But it was the spark of inspiration, and then during the year, and thanks to Tesla Viva (an association that organizes activities and takes care of the beautiful mountains), Josemari and Estibaliz started to talk about making an actual festival. Time flies, and Nofugrass Fest has now had three successful annual events with local and international bands like La West, Howdy, Barcelona Bluegrass Band, Fuel Grass, Jean Marie Redon, Henrich Novak, and The Peregrines just to mention a few.

This year was jam-packed with many events on and off the stage, including a conference about the music, a display of vintage vinyls, a banjo workshop with Jean Marie Redon, a really funny video call, great food and drinks, and jam sessions till 4:00 in the morning with the whole town dancing and enjoying the music — and many townspeople expressed an interest in learning the style and instruments!

Today the festival is a reality. It continues to grow each year and is quickly become the summer festival to go to in Spain.

I am happy to say that Nofugrass is here to stay — thanks to Tesla Viva and all the townspeople of Nofuentes who continue to work hard for the festival!