The Great 48 Jam, Bakersfield’s annual bluegrass jam and live music festival put on by the California Bluegrass Association, will open its doors at the Marriott Hotel downtown Thursday through Sunday. It’ll be a weekend full of pickers, pluckers, fiddlers and strummers roaming the hotel halls, indulging in jam sessions and enjoying some of the finest bluegrass groups working today.

Festivities start Thursday in the Marriott's Presidential Suite with performances by Bay Area-based duo Amy Scher and Hailey Pexton at 9 p.m. and the Winfree, Schwartz, Athayde quintet at 10 p.m. (If you’re wondering why the math doesn’t add up with the latter group, three of the musicians share the last name Schwartz.) The show is free to attend.

The jams start on Friday morning where musicians of all ages, styles and experience are invited to sit in, participate or listen. The Friday night concert will be held in the Marriott Grand Ballroom at 7 p.m. and will feature two exceptional California bluegrass bands: High Country and The Bow Ties. Tickets are $25 in advance on or $30 at the door. You can also buy tickets on the California Bluegrass Association’s website, Information on rooms, RV parking and daily itineraries can also be found there.

On Saturday, the jams continue with various workshops for a variety of instruments including guitar, banjo, mandolin, dobro, fiddle and bass. Impromptu combos will be formed for the Great 48 Hour Jam band scramble later that day at the Marriott Grand Ballroom along with other open mic activities. Just about the entire hotel, from top to bottom, will be a bluegrass player’s paradise. 

Sunday brings the event to an end with a 9 a.m. gospel jam, which will be held in the Little Switzerland room hosted by Rich Ferguson. 

The entire event is put on with the goal of promoting and keeping bluegrass alive to younger generations. Children are welcome to attend and who knows? Maybe they’ll be part of the jam themselves. 

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