Report from the 2023 Barcelona Bluegrass Camp

This report from the 2023 Barcelona Bluegrass Camp, held in Spain, is a contribution from Michael Luchtan, and American living in the region.

Hello Bluegrass friends!

We celebrated our 8th annual Barcelona Bluegrass Camp (BBC) this year, March 3-4. It was a great success, with our biggest attendance ever, including musicians from around Spain, the USA, Holland, Switzerland, Israel, Portugal, Germany, and many more.

Over the years, the BBC has become a place where connections are made and friendships are deepened.  This happens not only with members of the community, and the folks who make bonds during the jams, but also between the teachers, and the musicians who formed a band to perform several shows over the course of a week, enough so that they got a good feeling for each other.

Let me tell you, by the show on Sunday afternoon, after the camp had ended, and the John Reischman Catalan Quartet had performed together in multiple rehearsals, casual jams, and stage performance (with several shared meals in between), they were tight as could be, with the confident Lluís Gómez laying in easy  in the background on banjo. Talented bassist Maribel Rivero did the same – except when he stepped towards the mic to take a killer solo that crossed the well-known version of a song with his inner artistry – in order to give the visiting artists front and center stage. And Grammy award winner John Reischman on mandolin, IBMA Momentum Award winner (and Grammy nominated) Chris Luquette on guitar, and French All-Star fiddler Raphaël Maillet. Maillet’s playful stage presence made him an easy duet for well known Barcelona violinists Carol Duran and Oriol Saña, who joined him for twin and triple fiddles.

Reischman taught an eager group of mandolinists who came from around Europe and, like the other instructors, coached a student band that performed at the Student Concert on Saturday night. Luquette taught bluegrass guitar, Raphaël taught fiddle, Maribel taught the kids, and Lluís Gómez taught banjo.

And then there was the old-time side of the camp, with fiddling Mitch Depew, who is emerging as a driving pulse in the old time music as second place award winner at last years Clifftop fiddle contest. Mitch taught a growing group of violinists that he has drawn to the camp during his visits to Barcelona. Jelle Snelders taught clawhammer banjo using Prat banjos, made here in Barcelona.

Whether we were playing bluegrass or old time, it was such a pleasure to jam with everyone and enjoy musical fellowship with old friends.

Thank you to all the teachers, the students involved, and to the people who helped make it happen. Special mention to ArtistWorks who donated two subscriptions to their innovative online classes that allow you to get direct feedback from top-tier bluegrass artists, and to La Sedeta retiring Director, Esperanza Alvarez, who has provided a welcoming place for the Al Ras organizers to create an effervescent camp of musicians jamming in every room, hallway, and out in the grounds.

Special thanks also to the organizers, who each did their part to help make a successful bluegrass camp in a former silk stocking factory cum civic center in the urban grid of Barcelona’s legendary Eixample: Ignasí and Xavier Cardús, Lluís Gómez, Joan Manel Hernàndez, Michael Luchtan, and Jorge Rodríguez.

We also want to thank the organizations that produced shows around the camp to support the visiting artists: 

The folk festival Tradicionàrius for including John Reischman and his local quartet as a part of their festival. The group performed to a packed audience at the Centre Artisà Tradicionàrius as part of the festival, now in its 36th year.

El Barn D’en Greg once again provided a concert hall for a Sunday performance, a Bluegrass Barbeque and Jam, inside his legendary country dance hall.

Bluegrass is alive and growing in the Mediterranean region of Spain!