Bluegrass Festival coming to Southeast Minnesota

By Charlie Warner

The hills will be alive with music…bluegrass music, that is, from Aug. 19 to 22 in the picturesque Root River Valley of Houston County. 

The hills will be alive with music…bluegrass music, that is, from Aug. 19 to 22 in the picturesque Root River Valley of Houston County. The annual Southeast Minnesota Bluegrass Association’s (SEMBA) August Festival will be held at Cushon’s Peak Campground near Houston from Thursday afternoon through Sunday. A slate of a dozen different bluegrass and country groups from the Tri-State Area will be performing during the four-day festival.
SEMBA was organized in September 1998 as a result of individuals identifying a desire to promote traditional country and bluegrass music in the area. For six years Howard and Marjorie Otis, promoters of the Money Creek Haven Bluegrass Festival near Houston, Minn., aligned themselves with this effort. The goals of SEMBA include the sponsorship of two bluegrass festivals annually, solicitation of membership for the association and the coordination of informal jam sessions, October through April.
After a year-long hiatus due to the pandemic, SEMBA President Darrell Ottman is anticipating a large crowd for August’s four-day gathering. “We’ve had as many as 1,800 music lovers attending our festivals in the past,” Ottman noted. “And we’re hoping for a good crowd once again this year.”  
Various musical acts will be performing on a rotating basis throughout the afternoons and evenings Thursday through Saturday and all-day Sunday. 

Bluegrass workshops
A workshop for all guitar, banjo, mandolin, bass and fiddle players will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday, August 18, and is free with a SEMBA wristband. A second workshop will be held Saturday, August 21, from 9 to 10 a.m. 
Clinicians for the workshops include: guitar: Bill Cagley, who has coordinated and taught at workshops throughout the region for over 20 years; fiddle: John Reed, who has taught orchestra in Red Wing Public Schools and has lengthy experience as an instructor for violin and fiddle; bass: Sandy Njoes, who attended the West Bank School of Music and has 40 years of experience teaching and playing bass; banjo: Graham Sones, banjo instructor and leader of the Pete Wernick Jam Camp in Minnesota; mandolin: Lee Bjorndal, who has played mandolin over 30 years and given lessons for over 20 years. 
Beginners: John Diffley has been a music instructor for over 30 years for bluegrass instruments and has taught at workshops throughout the region. He will have the beginner musicians. For more information call about the workshop, call 507-251-1884.
For advance ticket information, contact at 507-864-8109 or e-mail:

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Cushon’s Peak Campground located in the beautiful valley on the popular Root River Bike Trail 18696 State Highway 16, Houston, MN 55943. They offer clean modern restrooms and showers. Electric and water site prices vary. Non-electric sites are also available as is an onsite dump station. 
For more information call 507-896-7325 or visit the website at or e-mail  


1:00 – 1:45 p.m. Cedar Valley
1:45 – 2:30 p.m. Kevin Prater Band
2:30 –3:15 p.m. Paul Family 
3:15 –4:00 p.m. Squirrel Tail
4:00 – 4:45 p.m. Kevin Prater Band
6:30 – 7:15 p.m. Blue Rapids
7:15 – 8:00 p.m. Paul Family 
8:00 –8:45 p.m. Cedar Valley
8:45 –9:30 p.m. Squirrel Tail 
9:30 – 10:15 p.m. Kevin Prater Band

1:00 – 1:45 p.m. Squirrel Tail
1:45 – 2:30 p.m. Paul Family 
2:30 – 3:15 p.m. Southern Gentlemen
3:15 – 4:00 p.m. Kevin Prater Band
4:00 – 4:45 p.m. Roe Family Singers
6:30 – 7:15 p.m. Paul Family 
7:15 – 8:00 p.m. Kevin Prater Band
8:00 – 8:45 p.m. Roe Family Singers
8:45 – 9:30 p.m. Squirrel Tail 
9:30 – 10:15 p.m. Southern Gentlemen

1:00 – 1:45 p.m. Serene Green
1:45 – 2:30 p.m. Roe Family Singers
2:30 – 3:15 p.m. Doubledown Dare Devils
3:15 – 4:00 p.m. Paul Family
4:00 – 4:45 p.m. Southern Gentlemen
6:00 p.m. Raffle Drawings
6:30 – 7:15 p.m. Paul Family
7:15 – 8:00 p.m. Doubledown Dare Devils
8:00 – 8:45 p.m. Southern Gentlemen
8:45 – 9:30 p.m. Roe Family Singers
9:30 – 10:15 p.m. Serene Green

9:00 – 9:40 a.m. Doubledown Dare Devils
9:40 – 10:20 a.m. Cedar Valley
10:20 – 11:00 a.m. Southern Gentlemen
11:00 – 11:40 a.m. Serene Green
12:15 – 1:00 p.m. Southern Gentlemen
1:00 – 1:45 p.m. Serene Green
1:45 – 2:30 p.m. Blue Rapids
2:30 – 3:15 p.m. Doubledown Dare Devils


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