Viola Bluegrass / Gospel Festival


Hello and welcome to the blog.  Saturday was a very fun day!  The little town of Viola (west of Anamosa about a dozen miles) had their annual bluegrass and gospel music festival. It is sponsored by the United Methodist church.  More people showed up than populate this little unincorporated (county managed) village.  Nobody really knows how many people actually live in Viola.  Some say around 150.

Summer, a good friend from Anamosa. She had a great afternoon! Summer is an inspiration after having adopted a healthy eating and exercise lifestyle.


The cost to attend was simply a free will donation.  The meal consisted of pulled pork on a bun, baked beans, and a plethora of desserts.  I was seduced by rhubarb crisp.  After a great lunch the audience gathered in lawn chairs and we were treated to four bands.  Below are photos of each band.  I’ve also placed a very short clip on YouTube of several groups playing.  Please click the pic below for the ** VIDEO **  At then end of the clip is a “Jam Sesh” where all the groups played at the same time.


By the way, one of the local friends was there.  This is Bill.  He recently turned 89.  Bill is a regular at the gas station where I’ve been working.  We sat for four hours listening to the bands.



The Messengers: Charlie D (left), two preachers, and a wife.


The first group is called “The Messengers” and are locals.   Charlie, shown on the left, was our plant manager when I worked for Rockwell International in 1986.  The other two fellas are both preachers.  The pretty lady on the guitar is someone’s wife but I don’t know who the lucky guy is.  She’s a terrific singer!

Nathaniel, Naomi, Lydia, and little Liam Smith also knows as “Blue Rapids”


Blue Rapids is a band from Cedar Rapids.  They’ve only been performing for two years but the talent and energy is amazing.  One of the songs they did was “Daddy Sang Bass, Mama Sang Tenor”.  Partway through, Nathaniel and Naomi switched and by golly, she did a great job at the bass and he sounded terrific as a tenor.  Even little Liam, 7 years old, played right along!  They rocked out socks off.



Right in the middle of the playing an older gentleman came down the road with a tractor and mowing attachment.  He checked us out for a bit.


Next up was “Bob and Kristie Black with Paul and Julie Roberts”.  This seasoned group of “pickers” really cranked up the tunes.  The upright bass put out more volume than expected.  No problem – I love bass!  It provided a thumping that even the urban kids would respect.



Last up was the Anderegg family from nearby Ryan, Iowa.  As they played, Bill and I talked about the F-4 tornado of ’74 that tore through Linn County and took down the Catholic church in that town.  It was only 45 years ago this month…

By now it was pushing 5PM and the heat was pretty intense.  Still, it had been a joyful afternoon – medicine for the soul – with gospel favorites, familiar non-religious songs, and fun fellowship in a family-friendly, no alcohol environment.  I plan to go next year and maybe seek out another bluegrass festival yet this year.  I didn’t realize we had such amazing talent in Iowa…


That’s all that’s new right now.  The summer is starting to wind down a little.  Though much of it has been crazy hot, it’s still been possible to have some enjoyment along the way!   Take care.  Safe and happy camping!

Thanks for visiting!

Brad and Jenny and Duke
Jones County, Iowa

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About VanTrekker

I am a former vandweller in Eastern Iowa who, for several years (off and on), lived in a 2007 Chevy cargo van. I still travel around Iowa with my tortoise shell cat, Jennifer Stefanie. Our favorite place to explore is the Country Heritage Community, the four far northeastern counties of Iowa (Clayton, Winneshiek, Allamakee, and Fayette). Ride along as we fish in pristine trout streams, enjoy fine home cooked camping meals, and meet new people. It's all possible on a shoestring budget. Happy travels always! --- Brad, the "Van Trekker"

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