Pure, straight-ahead Bluegrass comes back to Fiddlers Crossing June 2 in the form of
“The Roustabouts.” This new band is made up of old friends who have been part of the Bakersfield (and points nearby) Bluegrass scene. They began playing together in the summer of 2011 just for the pure fun of it. In fact, they were having so much fun picking and singing together that they decided to start sharing their music with live audiences.
The Roustabouts music is hard-driving bluegrass that features tight vocals and great picking. The members include Craig Wilson on guitar, Shawn Criswell on banjo, Kelvin Gregory on mandolin, and Brian Hacker on bass. Gregory and Hacker had been members of Highway 65, a bluegrass band that has played Fiddlers Crossing in the past.
Craig Wilson has been a fixture in the California Bluegrass scene for decades, and is known as one of the best traditional-style mandolin players in California. He has toured the West with several bands including Stony Point, The Born Again Bluegrass Band and Pacific Crest. Wilson is also an accomplished luthier and builds mandolins.
With The Roustabouts, Wilson is enjoying the opportunity to play guitar, although he occasionally switches instruments with Kelvin Gregory. “The band as a whole has very good pickers that are equally good at different instruments,” Gregory says.
Gregory started in Bluegrass more than 30 years ago and played bass in the Bakersfield band, Two Weeks Notice, until family and business needs caused him to put his music on the shelf for more than 20 years. He got the bug to play again and took up the mandolin and hasn’t looked back. He has jumped back into Bluegrass with a vengeance and his enthusiasm is infectious.
Shawn Criswell is thought by many to have one of the best right hands of any banjo picker in the region. Criswell hails from Visalia and cut his teeth on the playing styles of Scott Vestal and Terry Baucom. Shawn was a member of Pacific Crest as well as Groundspeed.
Brian Hacker, from Exeter, is a long-time friend of Criswell and played bass several years ago with the Criswell family bands. Like Kelvin Gregory, he put music aside for a period of time before dusting off his bass and playing with Highway 65.
These four friends will be certain to bring a good time to Tehachapi when they play Fiddlers Crossing.
Fiddlers Crossing is at 206 East F Street at Robinson Street, in Downtown Tehachapi. Tickets may be purchased next door at Mountain Music, at The Apple Shed, or with a credit card by calling 661-823-9994. Tickets to the concert are $20, and as always, coffee and goodies are included. The concert begins at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6: