Bluegrass In The Park: Friday Night With The Bluegrass Element

‘Bluegrass Element’ preforming at Bluegrass in the park on Friday night. (Photo by Nikki McCabe, Clovis Roundup)

July 17, 2023 – Friday night was not only a night for peaches at the peach party in Old Town Clovis, but also a night to enjoy the sweet sounds of bluegrass that serenaded the public on July 14.

Kent Kinney was one of the many attendees to the free concert at the Clovis Veterans Memorial Park. Kinney said he is a loyal concert-goer and always comes by the park on Friday night to enjoy his favorite type of music that he grew up with.

“Bluegrass is one of the most truly American styles of music,” said Kinney.

“It is something that I could play myself from a young age, I started playing at six-years-old. I enjoy the fact that generally the instrumental portion is done together during the vocals but then there are breaks or solos that highlight the character of music played, and it gives the musician a chance to express themselves.”

According to Kinney, Bluegrass music originated from the Appalachian mountains in the 1940’s era. The father of Bluegrass, Bill Monroe bestowed the name and genre from his band name, Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys.

Michael McDonald, one of the founders and guitarists in the band, named the band ‘Bluegrass Element’ because they saw their band as a backup group for other people.

He believes their group can add that bluegrass vibe to any artist or type of music like jazz that can blend in with bluegrass.

McDonald said playing together as a band in the park every year is a great feeling when getting to share what they love with others who are fans as well.

“That’s what we do, it is just like an artist,” said McDonald. “They want to hang their paintings up. When you are playing music, you wanna go out there and display it.”

Mcdonald said many people enjoy bluegrass music and concerts because of how inclusive it is to those who wish to join in on the fun.

“When we go to festivals, you can just come up and join in on the fun,” said McDonald.

“You just play what you can play, you can sing what you can sing, but you are welcome. So we get just gigantic jams of groups of players playing together. It’s something that anybody can get into no matter what your level or what you play.”

Another member of ‘Bluegrass Element’, Bob Garcia played the Mandolin during the concert with his band mates. According to Garcia, the band has participated in the concert series at the park in Clovis for 14 years now.

Garcia said he has been playing bluegrass music as a hobby for 40 years locally and has connected with the entire community of musicians and fans that still appreciate the traditional american roots of the style of music.

“Really blessed to have a supportive family and colleagues and constituents who come out and we all support each other, we come out and see each other’s bands,” said Garcia.

“A lot of these guys just come out because they like to play. The tips are just incidental, but it is fun…It is like a date night with a big group of people.”

Bluegrass in the Park goes on every Friday night till July 21st and starts back up September 1-22 at Clovis Veterans Memorial Park.

Nikki is a Fresno resident and a graduate of Fresno State University, with a Bachelor's of Arts degree in Media Communications and Journalism. Nikki spent some time as a staff reporter at the Fresno State Collegian Newspaper, and now currently works part time at the KFSN-TV station in Fresno. She enjoys local community events, arts and entertainment, and crime news.