Posted: Friday, Jul 10th, 2020

By Visit Ventura

On Feel Good Friday, Support World-Class Bluegrass, Ventura-style.

By Visit Ventura

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We started Feel Good Friday with a simple, straightforward intent. We were — and are — asking you, our one-of-a-kind locals, to Support Local as best as you can. Restaurants. Retail stores. Breweries, wineries, distilleries. In these hard times, our business owners — who also happen to be our friends and neighbors — are up against hard times. And it’s our big-hearted locals who will help see them through. Now is the time to do what Ventura does best — help each other. Maybe think of it as a vacation very, very close to home — and a chance to do what Ventura does best. Quietly do the right thing. Today’s Feel Good Friday focus turns to local music, specifically Ventura’s own John Jorgenson and the remarkable J2B2, playing, thanks to our friends at the Ventura Music Festival, at the Ventura Fairgrounds this coming Thursday, July 16th at 8 pm, a live Drive-In Concert beside the sea. Yes, J2B2 is one of the best bluegrass bands you’ll ever see (and hear); string players par excellence, including hometown hero Jorgenson, whom Elton John once called the best guitarist in the world, bar none. But equally important, with regards to Jorgenson, those who know him well have dubbed him “terminally nice.” So your chance to support Local — and supremely nice and supremely talented (the two don’t always pair) — in one fell swoop. For more information, please click here. And, happy news, there will be more live concerts, shows and even drive-in movies at the Fairgrounds throughout the summer, from Fishbone, Ozomatli and Rey Fresco (July 18th), to Third Eye Blind (July 25th), to Jim Messina and friends (August 17th), and more. To see the entire lineup (it’s expansive and happily surprising) please click here. Here, a few preliminary notes from Ventura’s Jorgenson, before bluegrass notes carry the day.    

How long have you lived in Ventura?

I moved here exactly 8 years ago, in July 2012.

Why did you decide to live here?

I grew up in Redlands, California, and lived also in Anaheim, Hollywood and Nashville over the years. During the 80s I started coming up to Ventura to rehearse with Chris Hillman (Byrds co-founder and songwriter par excellence) and fell in love with the town, which reminded me of Redlands, but with cleaner air and cooler temperatures. Vintage California. It took over 20 years, but I finally moved here and really enjoy it.

How long has J2B2 been playing together?

The band started back in 2014.

Would you please tell us a little bit about the other members in the band?

Herb Pedersen sings and plays banjo and guitar; he’s a legendary musician who has recorded and played with Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris, John Denver and countless others. He and I started playing together back in 1985, backing Dan Fogelberg. We also enjoyed success together in the Desert Rose Band in the late 80s. Patrick Sauber is an accomplished multi instrumentalist who plays guitar and sings with the group. He’s very in-demand in the bluegrass and old time music worlds, performing regularly with Peter Rowan, Tim O’Brien and John Riechtman. He was also featured in the film “The Mighty Wind”. Normally multi-Grammy winning bassist Mark Fain plays with us, but due to recent travel restrictions he’s unable to join us for this show. Filling in for him, we’ll have bassist Simon Planting, who regularly plays with my gypsy jazz Quintet. Simon has graciously offered to drive down from Berkeley to join us for this special performance.

Some folks are unfamiliar with bluegrass. What might they learn if they come to the show on July 16th?

Surprisingly, there is a long tradition of bluegrass in California, even though most associate this style with the Southeast. The instrumental skills needed are quite refined, and the particular vocal harmonies can lend themselves to material that is quite diverse. We actually make a point to highlight themes and lyrical ideas not common to the genre, to add some substance.

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