The annual Huck Finn Jubilee stacks up this year as a head spinning combination of family-style activities (there will be hot air balloon rides, performances by the Russell Brothers Circus and, dig, the California State Arm Wrestling Championships) and a rich offering of country and bluegrass from some of the very finest musicians in the States. Topping the line-up are long-running hillbilly insurgents the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, a combo whose initial arrival in Nashville during the late 1960’s was fraught with tension—shaggy hippies all, they nonetheless won over even the most conservative figure in Music City, Grand Ole Opry star Roy Acuff, who, after some dire misgivings, gave the band his priceless, personal benediction, and the band has ridden that auspicious start through some four decades of well-received music making. Another heavy hitter is revered virtuoso Doyle Lawson and his aptly named Quicksilver band, one of the fastest rising and most forward-looking acts on the circuit. A very special treat along the way is a visit from unbeatable bluegrass threesome Berline, Crary and Hickman, led by the indefatigable and perpetually superb fiddler, Byron Berline. He’s rosined up the bow for just about everyone in the business during his long, distinguished career—up to and including (would believe?) the Rolling Stones—yes sir, that’s Berline’s fiddle on their epochal rock masterpiece Let It Bleed’s down-home side trip “Country Honk.” Truth to tell, many of these bluegrass cats are anything but tradition bound purists: the mountain music super group Blue Highway contributed a Van Halen cover to an all-bluegrass tribute to the heavy metal heroes, 2006’s Strummin’ With the Devil. Long story short, you never know what kind of kicks these players may throw down, so while you can expect the unexpected, cheery good times are guaranteed. (Jonny Whiteside)
The 32nd Annual Huck Finn Jubilee, at Mojave Narrows Regional Park, 18000 Yates Road, Victorville, (951) 341-8080, www.huckfinn.com. Running June 13–15. Tickets $15 for adults on Saturday, $20 on Saturday and Sunday; $5 for children ages 6-11 any day. Children under 6, free.