Spain’s 2020 Al Ras Bluegrass Festival to be held free online

Just as most bluegrass festivals in the US and Canada have been cancelled this year due to state and local restrictions, so are similar events in Europe and beyond. 

And so the Al Ras Bluegrass Festival, held each year on this weekend in Barcelona, has shifted to an online presentation, with footage from previous festivals streamed live on Facebook. For years this event has brought grassers from all over Europe to this charming city for performances and workshops from top players from several nations. Local residents have become very supportive as well, and local sponsors cover the costs of all the concerts, held in various locations in Barcelona.

With all the music and workshops held online, organizers are inviting bluegrass lovers worldwide to sample some of the video from previous years, and have provided this statement and schedule for anyone who would live to join them

In case you haven’t heard, the 19th Annual Al Ras Bluegrass Festival was canceled at the last minute due to new COVID-19 restrictions. Rather than give up on the festival, we are adapting to a virtual space. You are invited to participate in the very first, and hopefully only, Virtual Al Ras Festival. Please join us November 5-8 at the Al Ras Festival Facebook page. Every night at 9:00 p.m. local time, we will host a Watch Party and share posts with memories of past Al Ras Festivals.

There will also be a variety of down-home activities throughout the entirety of the festival, including a version of our legendary raffle. We will still have the raffle, but you won’t have to buy a ticket this year. You are entered in the contest to win prizes when you interact with us at the festival. To be entered to win a raffle prize, simple share your photos and other memories of Al Ras, join us at the Watch Party as we listen to amazing live recordings of Bluegrass Legends and past Al Ras, or participate in one of the following events:

  • The Jam Circle: You can stop by anytime during the festival and contribute to our collective performance of Will The Circle Be Unbroken
  • Merch table: Stop by the Merch Table for a free download of classic Al Ras Festival posters, and cast a vote on your favorite T-shirt design
  • Bluegrass Song Swap: A gathering space where you can share your favorite bluegrass songs with other musicians and fans.
  • Banjo Workshop with Lluis Gomez on Saturday Nov. 7 at 12:00 (CET)
  • Fiddle Workshop by Oriol Saña on Saturday, Nov. 7 at 13:00 (CET)
  • Al Ras Virtual Slow Jam at 19:30 (CET)

A virtual festival can never replace a real festival, but together we can hold the space for the festival so we can meet again one day.

Full Schedule:

Thursday, Nov. 5

  • (All Day) Share posts to celebrate La Sonora de Gràcia
  • (21:00) Watch Party: Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys (Live 1962 stage recording)
  • Bill Keith and Jim Rooney (Live 1962 radio performance)

Friday, Nov. 6th

  • (All Day) Share posts with memories of La Sedeta
  • (21:00) Watch Party: Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys (Live 1977 stage recording)
  • Selections from previous Al Ras

Saturday, Nov. 7

  • (All Day) Share some tales from Mollet
  • (12:00-13:00) Lluis Gomez Banjo Workshop
  • (13:00-14:00) Oriol Saña Fiddle Workshop
  • (21:00) Watch Party: J.D. Crowe and the New South (Live 1975 stage recording)

Sunday, Nov. 8th

  • (All day) Share your memories of bluegrass legends who played Al Ras
  • (19:30) The Al Ras Virtual Slow Jam
  • Raffle

All the best, and we hope to see everyone again some day in Barcelona!

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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.