Year three of the popular Idyllwild Lemon Lily Festival adds some “high lonesome sound” three part vocal harmony and some fancy pickin’ to the weekend festivities with a Saturday, July 21 Bluegrass concert. Festival organizers hope the concert will be a precursor to a full-blown multi-headliner Bluegrass festival in its own right starting next year. Lake Elsinore based quartet Silverado will anchor this first event. Beginning in late afternoon, local Idyllwild musicians will perform prior to Silverado taking the stage.

The Silverado Bluegrass Band plays at this year’s Lemon Lily Festival. From left are Noel Taggart, Mike Nadolson, Fred Wade and Kevin Gore. Photo courtesy of Silverado Bluegrass

Silverado musicians Mike Nadolson (guitar and vocals), Noel Taggart (mandolin and vocals), Kevin Gore (banjo and vocals) and Fred Wade (upright bass) bring this Celtic influenced, Appalachian offshoot of country music to Idyllwild. Silverado leader Nadolson is a recording artist and past bluegrass flatpicking and singing champion. He has been comfortably immersed in the bluegrass niche for over 30 years and called by Bluegrass Unlimited one of the finest singers to appear on the bluegrass music scene in recent years. Mandolin player Taggart, true to the fusion nature of bluegrass, brings a history of playing with bluegrass gospel groups. Bluegrass, a jazz and gospel influenced genre is not an old form, having grown in the 1940’s out of old country music. Bluegrass pioneer Bill Monroe characterized bluegrass as, “Scottish bagpipes and ole-time fiddlin’.

It’s Methodist and Holiness and Baptist. It’s blues and jazz, and it has a high lonesome [vocal] sound.”

As part of that desire to integrate the town center with the primary festival venue at the Nature Center on Highway 243, organizers are offering sponsorships beginning at $25 to local businesses. Participating businesses will be listed in festival promotional literature as sponsors. For every $10 spent at local participating businesses, customers would receive a ticket for a drawing for one of three gift baskets to be awarded during the festival. “We want them [the gift baskets] to be substantial,” said local businessman and festival organizer Bryan Tallent, “ with inn stays, vacation and restaurant and merchant offerings.”

Festival organizers are repeating what had made the festival successful in prior years — guided botanist-lead walking tours and hikes, opportunities to view lemon lilies growing along local stream beds, pioneer town arts and crafts, a Rotary pancake breakfast, an American Legion BBQ, a Friday evening July 20 “Taste of Idyllwild” featuring food and treats from local restaurants, and music, music and more music.

The in-town bluegrass event, on the street between the Fort and Jo’An’s Restaurant, might revive memories, for those who were here then, of Idyllwild’s 1970’s era Bluegrass Festival. The Idyllwild festival, which ran from 1974 to 1979, was at the time the only such festival in Southern California.

In addition to providing some high-energy musical entertainment for Lemon Lily Festival patrons, this inaugural free evening of bluegrass music is designed to bring festival attendees back to Idyllwild’s town center to eat, drink, twirl, stomp and dance in Idyllwild’s warm evening summer air. “We want this first bluegrass music event to set the precedent for next year,” said Tallent. “We want the appearance to be right, nice without being overdone.”

Local artists are being sought to create festival banners, hung from stanchions throughout the town. Each unique creation will be auctioned at the end of the festival as will this year’s Lemon Lily Quilt, the centerpiece of the final evening’s auction and festivities. As in year’s past, organizers intend to promote the festival at other flower festivals prior to festival dates. The Idyllwild Garden Club is also pitching in to add yellow themed flower tubs and baskets throughout town during the festival.

Go to the festival site for more information at