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Two new outdoor music festivals in Auburn build on Party in the Park buzz

Outlaw country legend Billy Joe Shaver headlines Auburn event; 3,000 fill Regional Park natural amphitheater
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Building on today's Party in the Park excitement, plans are set for two more outdoor music festivals this summer in Auburn. The newly christened Gold Country Blues Fest will welcome international blues-rock guitar legend Walter Trout on July 10. On Aug. 7, the one and only Elvin Bishop will headline the Northern California Blues Festival at Regional Park in Auburn. Scott Holbrook, an Auburn Recreation District director, has nurtured the annual Party in the Park over the past decade at Regional Park. This year’s event drew an estimated 3,000 people today, many who came from out of town to see Texas outlaw country pioneer Billy Joe Shaver make a rare, open-air Northern California appearance. Shaver, who was recently found not guilty of aggravated assault in connection with a shooting outside a Texas bar, was in a buoyant mood and his self-penned classic country and honky tonk songs took the crowd along on an ebullient joyride. “I just got out of a big scrape and I’m all right,” Shaver said to cheers after taking the stage. Holbrook said he’s pleased to see a spirit of cooperation between the two festivals. The two shared informational materials at the Party in the Park. “They’ve contacted each other so they‘re not stepping on one another’s feet,” Holbrook said. The Gold Country Blues Festival is taking up where the BBQ & Blues Festival left off when the Placer County SPCA decided that last year’s event would be its last. The Placer County Contractor’s Association has stepped up as festival presenter. Chae’ Gale, contractors association director of operations, said that despite the name change little will be different from an early summer event that has always proved popular. “We’re keeping the same format and bringing in a great lineup,” Gale said. As well as Trout, the festival will welcome blues guitarist Guy Davis, and the Soul of Gypsy Tour featuring vocalists Lydia Pense, Annie Sampson, Dana Moret and Lara Price backed by the Bay Area’s Cold Blood. The Northern California Blues Festival has its roots in a Fair Oaks festival that ended last year after organizers decided to concentrate on brewfests, Holbrook said. Jason Haxton Production, with sponsorship from the Sacramento Blues Society, is putting the festival on this year. Holbrook said Haxton was the force behind the logistics to put on last September’s Benefit in the Park for 49 Fire victims and has organized a lineup that’s sure to please. As well as Bishop – whose BBQ & Blues appearances were perhaps the most well-received during that event’s nearly two decades of festivals – performers will be Zac Harmon, the Sacramento Blues Revue, Chris Cain, Kaye Bohler, Dennis Jones and Volker Strifler. The Gold Country festival will earn money for contractors association causes, including a scholarship program and the Auburn Boys & Girls Club. A portion of the proceeds from the Northern California Blues Festival will go to the Auburn Recreation District’s Youth Assistance Fund to enroll needy children in sports, arts and education programs. Tickets and information are available through the websites norcalbluesfest.com and goldcountrybluesfest.com.