By Matthew Stephens
Cheney Free Press 

Bluegrass festival brings summer fun to Medical Lake

Music and workshops available


Last updated 8/3/2023 at 3:34pm

MEDICAL LAKE – The annual Blue Waters Bluegrass Festival is coming back to Waterfront Park in Medical Lake August 11-13. According to organizers the weekend will be filled with live music, music workshops and vendors galore.

Blue Waters is a non-profit group that started in 2002 that puts the show on every year, except for a brief two-year hiatus through the COVID pandemic.

Being a non-profit means the group is fully funded by donations and community support. According to the Blue Waters President Nick Burgis, the group has tried getting grants to help fund the show.

He said they were unsuccessful in obtaining any grants this year.

But they are still bringing a lot of live bluegrass tunes for the community to enjoy.

The fun starts on Friday evening with an open mic going from 4-6 p.m. Then the live music begins with Brett and Janet Dodd taking the stage at 6 p.m.

Custer’s Grass Band will be the second band playing at 7 p.m. They formed in 1976 and have the merit of recording the first bluegrass album originating in the Pacific Northwest.

FY5 will take the stage as the third band of the night, playing at 8 p.m. This band is gaining ground in the bluegrass world and has been showcased at Folk Alliance and the International Bluegrass Music Association conventions.

The Tony Furtado Trio will close Friday night out, playing a set from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tony Furtado is known to embody Americana roots music, and evoke a very soulful feel when singing.

Food and craft vendors will be available in the park as well, and camping will be available for folks wanting to stay overnight or through the weekend.

They will have the upper parking lot open for dry camping with recreational vehicles, meaning there are no water or sewage hookups available.

Tent camping will be available in the lower lot and due to a city mandate, no campers or pop-up campers are allowed in that camping area.

Lodging options are available in different area motels throughout the West Plains also. So, guests can stay comfortable and close by.

The second day of the festival brings some music workshops for youth into the picture.

Starting at 11 a.m. Tony Furtado and Aaron Youngberg will be teaching kids how to play the banjo.

Luke Price and Ryan Drickey will follow that by holding a fiddle workshop at noon.

There will also be a slow jam workshop happening at noon near the main gate.

Keith Brush will be teaching some bass lessons at 1 p.m.

The live music also kicks off at 1 p.m. with a performance from the youth camp.

Brett and Janet Dodd, Tony Furtado and Custer’s Grass Band will play again Saturday from 2:30 p.m. to a dinner break at 5:30 p.m. Then FY5 will play at 7 p.m.

Caleb Klauder & Reeb Willms will play at 8 p.m. This pair has been foundational to the exceptional Pacific Northwest old-time and country music scene, bringing a good time with soulful tunes.

AJ Lee & Blue Summit are set to close Saturday out with a performance at 9:15 p.m. This group has received awards from the Northern California Bluegrass Association, the FreshGrass Festival, and most recently, a momentum award from the International Bluegrass Music Association.

Sunday will bring one vocal workshop in which folks can learn duo singing with Caleb Klauder & Reeb Willms.

From there the music starts at noon with the Mountain Dew Boys starting things up. They are a group of long-time friends from the Spokane area. Their love for music has them playing traditional bluegrass, original compositions, instrumentals, and gospel music.

The second Sunday performance will be by Buck 99, who take the stage at 1 p.m. Buck 99 is a bluegrass group from the North Idaho Panhandle consisting of three musicians from Post Falls.

Hannah Siglin is set to play at 2 p.m. and she grew up playing music with her family in the church.

After high school, she became one of just a few women in Berklee College of Music’s expansive guitar department.

Throughout the entire festival there will be volunteers working at the event to help in several areas. Volunteerism is an essential part of this event according to organizers, and volunteers who work eight hours get a weekend pass; four hours equals a one-day pass.

Author Bio

Matthew Stephens, Managing Editor

Graduated from West Virginia University at Parkersburg in 2011 with a journalism degree.
Award winning photographer.
My favorite words to write are the stories that help people celebrate each other.


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