GRANADA HILLS — The energetic acoustic sounds of bluegrass music will escape the confines of local pizza parlors and other less celebrated venues through a series of concerts by nationally recognized artists, if the Bluegrass Assn. of Southern California has its way.
Tonight's performance by Lou Reid, Terry Baucom & Carolina at the Granada Hills Masonic Temple is the first of many concerts by major bluegrass acts that the group plans to organize in the hope of introducing new fans to the music Pete Seeger once called "folk music in overdrive."
Proceeds from the show will be used to sponsor more concerts.
"National bluegrass bands don't normally come to the L.A. area," said Sharon Cort, who organized the show for the Bluegrass Assn. and is a bluegrass musician. "Usually this kind of music is not commercially popular because it's not played on commercial radio.
"We're trying to expose it to a wider audience," she said. "Sometimes it's perceived as being 'old men music' or something they heard on 'The Beverly Hillbillies.' It's more than that."
Reid discovered that as a child growing up in Virginia, when his interest in the energy of rock music (and the Beatles in particular) ultimately led him to the fast-paced tempo of bluegrass. Now singing and playing mandolin and guitar with the Carolina quartet, Reid said he still sees much in common in the two musical genres.
"A lot of newer bands have a lot of energy, like in rock 'n' roll," Reid said this week from his home in Fredericksburg, Va. "It's a picker's paradise. You really get to play. You don't stand on the side of the stage and wait for your 20 seconds to release your energy. You get to use the knowledge that you have."
Reid joined singer/banjo player Baucom, singer-guitarist Clay Jones and singer-bassist Marcus Smith after many years working as a successful sideman to several major country artists. He spent nearly five years recording and touring with Ricky Skaggs, and has played on recent albums by Vince Gill, Michael Martin Murphy and Vern Gosin. Reid also was a member of the popular folk-bluegrass act Seldom Scene.
He left the mainstream country scene to refocus his energies on the genre of music and playing that has always been the most satisfying to him. Now Carolina is in its second year of touring, with plans to release a second album in coming months.
"We just love the music," said Baucom of the mixture of country, American folk and blues ultimately perfected by Bill Monroe and Earl Scruggs in the 1940s. "My dad still plays it. It's in my blood. I really enjoy listening to it, and it's even more fun to play it."
For fans, bluegrass performances offer a more relaxed communal atmosphere too often missing from rock and country shows. Howard Yearwood, a West Hills musician who hosts a bluegrass show Saturday mornings on KCSN-FM, said: "The artists are more accessible to the fans. There isn't any need for a backstage pass. You can go to any festival and pretty much mingle with the top talent."
"It's a social phenomenon," said Cort. "We need to get more people exposed to the music. I really feel that if they heard it they would like it."
WHERE AND WHEN
Who: Lou Reid, Terry Baucom & Carolina with Andy Rau.
Location: Granada Hills Masonic Temple, 16535 Rinaldi St., Granada Hills.
Hours: 7:30 tonight.
Call: (818) 700-8288.