From the Virtual Strangers (San Diego, CA) – Yvonne & Mike Tatar, Jim Blakemore, & Dan Sanke:

December 2022 – The Virtual Strangers send a big “Thank You!” to you all for funding a BGIS mini-grant that allowed us to perform in two San Diego County libraries last August. Your support is greatly appreciated! Thank you for helping us share the value of bluegrass music with others, and especially with children. It was heartwarming to see the positive attendance at both concerts. We welcomed children, parents and adults that enjoyed our “What Is Bluegrass?” presentation. We gave away many bluegrass coloring books (about 50) to children who requested them, and, interestingly, to quite a few older adults. These smiling seniors mentioned that our show and the coloring books were full of information on performers they remembered from their past.

In total, we performed to about 90-120 people. With the band’s long association with Summergrass, we travel to California in August each year to play there and at one or two other venues. This year the library gigs worked out so well we’re hoping to play a couple more libraries in 2023. In fact, after our library performances, we were quickly contacted by three more libraries to perform for them in October and November 2022, but unfortunately two members of the band were back in Tennessee by that time. We enjoyed educating and performing for these library audiences and it seemed like a perfect fit.

Here is one comment from an audience member that we feel captures the many comments we received after our concerts. “I was so happy I attended the concert of the Virtual Strangers when they performed at our Vista Library. The music was toe-tapping good, and they gave us an entertaining education of bluegrass music. In fact, I enjoyed it so much I am once again listening to the entire Ken Burns documentary on country music (16 hours). Thank you to Mike and Yvonne Tatar and the rest of the band for a fun hour of music.” -Susan M. Stokes

In closing, Virtual Strangers sends a “hats off” salute to the Foundation for supporting us with the BGIS mini-grant. We appreciate the Foundation’s dedication to furthering bluegrass education and outreach in so many ways. Yours is important work that helps to ensure a happier future through music for us all, young and old alike. Bluegrass brings happy smiles!

From Kate Edmonds, Dunwoody Elementary School (Atlanta, GA):

October 2022 – We had the performance today and it went great! Two members of Smokey’s Farmland Band played guitar/mandolin and dobro. They talked about the pre-origins of bluegrass music, Bill Monroe, types of songs, bluegrass band instruments, and went into detail on their three instruments and more. They played about eight songs for the kids, including a bluegrass  “Jingle Bells” sing along. The performance was for 4th and 5th grades and reached about 215 students and 8 teachers. The Dunwoody Elementary School PTO augmented the grant with $200 to pay the performers $700 total. Thank you so much for this grant, which brought a form of music which I love into our school. The students really seemed to enjoy it and if it made a big impression on a few, that would be so cool!

From Greg Ray, music teacher, College Street Elementary School (Manchester, TN)

December 2022 – Hello! I’ve attached some photos of the Becky Buller Band’s performance at our school. Thanks once again for allowing us this opportunity through your grant!

Photo above: The Becky Buller Band with students from Coillege Street Elementary School in Manchester, TN

Return to the January 2023 issue of The Cornerstone.