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Concert ropes in summer

Series ends season of outdoor events with day of Western, bluegrass music

Posted: September 16, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: September 16, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Valentin Ortiz, of Bakersfield, grills burgers.

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The down-home sounds of Western and bluegrass music filled the air at William S. Hart Park on Saturday afternoon, for the last Music ’n the Park event of the summer.

While families picnicked in the shade of the Newhall park’s trees, Western State of Mind and the Wimberley Bluegrass Band played music of another era.

“(The music) appeals to my love of history,” said John Bergstrom, who, along with John Nelson and Gancy Brown, makes up Western State of Mind. “All of the traditional forms of music have lyrics that tell a story.”

Those sentiments were echoed by Robert “Tumbleweed Rob” Wolfskill, who was at the park for a picnic with the California chapter of the Western Music Association.

“I grew up going to powwows and listening to the stories of my ancestors,” said Wolfskill, whose roots are Apache, Mexican and French Canadian. “The heritage and the folklore of it is embedded pretty deep in me.”

After Western State of Mind played its blend of Western music new and old, the Wimberley Bluegrass Band from Orange County switched gears a bit, playing classic songs with a decidedly Appalachian twist.

On banjo, mandolin, fiddle and guitar, the quartet plays tight and in time. The musicians are bound by more than their skill — the four are siblings ranging from 14 to 19.

Their father, Brent Wimberley, said his children’s interest was sparked several years ago, and that the four are self-taught. They play both bluegrass standards and original compositions.

“It’s very interesting to be able to listen to them play,” said the eldest Wimberley, who is not a musician. “That’s why they’re self-taught.”

Saturday’s event caps off several summer concerts at Hart Park, which have included jazz and Latin music.

The afternoon also featured roping and lasso demonstrations by Jim Brooks, of Mira Loma.

A native of Montana, Brooks said he spent years as a cowboy and rodeo rider throughout the West before settling in California. He’s also worked in films and recorded several CDs of Western music.

“I was a drifter before I got married,” he said. “I’m a cowboy. It’s what I do.”



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