The two stalwarts of KVMR 89.5 FM's Strawberry Music Festival coverage from the Nevada County Fairgrounds this weekend are ready for anything in their sixth annual live remote broadcast -- and they don't care what the weather is.
"It's going to be an adventure," said KVMR Chief Engineer Dave "Buzz" Barnett, a member of the festival's Hog Ranch Radio crew since the mid-'80s, "though some of my fondest Strawberry memories and experiences are ones that took place in bad weather."
"Oh, heck, a little rain here is nothing like the snow and heavy rain we'd get at Camp Mather," KVMR festival broadcast producer Eric Rice recalled. Rice has also been the electrical contractor for Strawberry since the '90s.
"It never seemed to dampen the spirit there (Camp Mather, its longtime site), and I doubt if it'll dampen it here, either," Rice laughed.
KVMR broadcasters including Connie Coale, Lynn Heintz, Jenny Michael, Johnny Gallagher and others will broadcast from the festival, and the station's coverage will also feature Strawberry's longtime Hog Ranch Radio crew giving listeners an inside look at the history of the four decades of festival tradition.
Strawberry first came to the local Fairgrounds in 2014 after fire damage and infrastructure issues forced it to move from the Yosemite area's Camp Mather to Grass Valley in the spring and Westside Tuoloumne in the fall.
This year, construction issues forced cancellation of the fall festival so this weekend is the only Strawberry for 2019.
And another tradition continues , according to KVMR's Barnett, "the superior audio quality" found at Strawberry.
"The front-of-house engineer for most of it will be Larry Cummings, a Grammy award-winning sound engineer," explained Barnett. "He creates one of the finest live mixes you will ever hear, and we do our best at KVMR to maintain it for our on-air sound."
it's certainly found a home on over-the-air radio and the web. The first broadcast and streaming of the festival by a fulltime radio station was by KVMR, and hundreds of Strawberry fans around the world have joined the Nevada City radio station at kvmr.org for the live music.
Things kick off at 4 p.m. Thursday and go through the end of Amy's Orchid Cafe, a late night indoors show with the band Risky Biscuits and Friday and Saturday until about 1 a.m. the following morning.
Friday and Saturday coverage begins at 10 a.m. and Sunday starts with the special 9 a.m. traditional Sunday Morning Revival.
Rice says he's particularly looking forward to acclaimed guitarist Nina Gerber joining bluegrass legend Laurie Lewis in a unique acoustic duo onstage Sunday afternoon. "That should be way fun," he noted.
"And Molly Tuttle's going to be there (Saturday afternoon), " Rice added. "She's won the International Bluegrass Music Association outstanding guitarist award two times, and she's only in her 20s and she's the only woman ever nominated for the award."
He also cited Peter Rowan's Free Mexican Air Force (Thursday night headliners) and then just went on and on. He likes the whole line-up, we'll just say.
HAWKTAIL MAY SOAR
Meanwhile, Barnett picked a new name for his "can't miss" group.
"I want to see Hawktail live," the KVMR engineer said. "I want to sit in the field (Friday afternoon) and just watch what they can do."
Good choice. A collection of four top-notch acoustic instrumentalists, including Brittany Haas of Crooked Still, public radio's "Live From Here" and sister of Alasdair Fraser's collaborator, cellist Natalie Haas. Um, they're definitely on their way.
"Oh," adds Barnett, "and the Richard Thompson Electric Band (Friday night's headliners)".
"I guarantee there will be something this weekend that everybody who goes will remember for a long, long time," according to Barnett. "There always is."
Hey, just remember the Strawberry Way traditions: consideration, cooperation, kindness and generosity.
No wonder people like living there this coming weekend.
Enter Eric Rice, once again.
"And Strawberry always brings someone that you go away wondering 'Where did they come from?'"
"It's always a great way to kick off the festival season," Rice says, with the Father's Day Bluegrass Festival, California Worldfest, KVMR Celtic Festival and maybe a couple others lying in wait.
THURSDAY 2 TO 4
Hey, hats off to Buzz Barnett and Brian Terhorst as they become the two alternating Thursday afternoon hosts on KVMR from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., replacing Kim Rogers who has moved to Saturday afternoons at 2.
Terhorst, longtime host of "Harmony Ridge" on the Nevada City station, will debut its new day and time this Thursday (May 23) with evocative music based in the acoustics.
Barnett made his debut last week and he'll be back next Thursday, May 30th.
"I got a lot of nice calls on my very first show," said Barnett. "I call it 'Tangled Roots' and it's a good mixed-up variety of roots music. I'm trying to make every show sound new and different."
Okay, Barnett has a little experience doing radio, even though this is his first regular KVMR program (if anything on KVMR can be called regular).
It seems he spent, oh, 25 years doing a Saturday afternoon show called "Swing Boogie" on KKUP, Cupertino, in the South Bay before he found his way to KVMR.
KNOW & HEAR
WHAT: Strawberry Annual Music Festival Broadcast on KVMR 89.5 FM, 105.1 FM Truckee, kvmr.orgstreaming online
WHEN: Thursday (May 23) 4 p.m. to midnight; Friday & Saturday 10 a.m. to approximately 1 a.m.; Sunday 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.
WHERE: Nevada County Fairgrounds, Grass Valley
ON-SITE RADIO: Hog Ranch Radio, 88.3 FM
TICKETS: Available at gate & at strawberrymusic.com
BROADCAST INFO: kvmr.org or 530/265-9073