Tomorrow’s Bluegrass Stars launch online youth festival

Autumn Moore, a 17 year old bluegrass fiddler and singer in central Pennsylvania, has come up with a great idea to unite young pickers all over the country by organizing an online festival for Easter weekend. With so many families unable to travel or get together for a big Easter celebration, she figured it would be a fine time to organize an online event to promote and publicize budding grassers.

Moore and her 16 year old brother, Canyon, form a duet act called Buffalo Mountain who perform as often as their school schedules allow in their part of the Keystone State. Together they have launched their first event, along with a national organization to which they belong, Tomorrow’s Bluegrass Stars (TBS), which exists to connect young bluegrass artists all over the US and Canada. TBS currently has more than 350 members, all under the age of 20.

They have dubbed the online festival simply TBS Online Bluegrass Festival, and plan to host it on FaceBook and YouTube from April 10-12. They have a few groups lined up, but are sending out a call now for any other young bluegrass bands who might like to contribute a set. As the music will be provided through Facebook Live, any youth group with access to Facebook is invited to participate.

Mirroring the rules of TBS, acts who would like to perform in the festival need to be made up primarily of 20 and under musicians, though having a couple of adult members is not a disqualification. Autumn told us that she understands that a lot of young bands are family-based, and parents often perform with the kids. If enough acts are willing to participate, she expects to fill those three days with one performance after another for a full weekend worth of entertainment.

Much younger groups who don’t have a full 45 minute set of music prepared can be featured in shorter 15 minute segments, but the idea is to have all the music performed live. Artists who live in more remote areas without reliable internet access are still invited to participate by submitting a pre-recorded video.

Buffalo Mountain will serve as hosts for the TBS Online Bluegrass Festival, and have provided an online sign-up form for bands who would like to be a part of this fun event. No fees will be charged to watch, nor any to participate. Autumn says that fun is the key intent, and getting to meet virtually with other young pickers online. Participating groups do not need to be members of TBS to perform.

Membership in Tomorrow’s Bluegrass Stars is likewise open to anyone who plays bluegrass, as long as they are 20 or under. The group was launched in 2010 by John Colburn, specifically as a means for young folks to meet others their age. They hold get-togethers at major conferences like SPBGMA and IBMA, and as members age out at 21, they remain in TBS as mentors to assist the younger set. Prominent members who have gone on to wider success include Kentucky JustUs, Family Sowell, and Williamson Branch.

TBS is a non-profit organization, and there are no dues or fees associated with membership.

Autumn said that she and Canyon joined because where they live in Perry County, PA, there aren’t many other young pickers. Now, they have made lots of friends their age who pick in their TBS family.

Any early bluegrass adopter, Moore declared to her parent at age 2 that she wanted to play the fiddle, but they held off until she was 5. Both of her parents play, but don’t pursue it seriously. The year that she and Canyon started lessons, the family took an extended trip out west, and enrolled both of the kids in the Montana Bluegrass Camp, as it happened to coincide with the family’s travel plans.

She said that they both loved the friendly, accepting attitude they found in the bluegrass scene.

“We both liked bluegrass when we went to shows, and loved getting invited to take part in jams. The support and encouragement was something that really drew us in, and we found a teacher that could mentor us in this direction.”

Autumn has discovered quickly that organizing something like this is a lot of work, and is asking anyone with some experience with either Facebook or YouTube live to offer some assistance. She can be reached through the TBS Online Bluegrass Festival Facebook page.

She also asked us to thank Brayden Williamson for creating their festival logo.

Congratulations to Autumn for getting this off the ground. A full schedule will be posted soon on the Facebook page. Be sure to tune in over the Easter weekend to see some impressive up-and-coming bluegrass talent.

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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.