It might not be apparent from the Billboard Hot 100 charts or Teen Choice awards, but a variety of musical genres attract today’s youth. Many San Francisco schools offer excellent jazz and classical music programs. Choral groups and Broadway show tunes are also well represented. This year’s Potrero Hill Festival, on Saturday October 15, will feature another example: an accomplished bluegrass band consisting of talented 12 to 16 year-olds.
Potrero Hill resident Helen Ludé, 13, got hooked on Bluegrass music at a young age, while attending Bluegrass campouts and festivals with her family. Inspired by other kids playing music at these events, she began learning guitar and fiddle. While attending a music festival in 2011, Helen and three of her friends were invited to play a few songs together on a side stage, and were asked what their “band” was called. They added up their collective ages, and settled on the name Thirty-Five Years of Trouble.
Five years later, the kids still play music regularly, and have performed at bluegrass festivals, fundraisers and farmer’s markets throughout California. They were invited to the annual International Bluegrass Music Association event in Raleigh, North Carolina last year, and have released their first CD.
Thirty-Five Years of Trouble includes Helen Ludé on vocals, mandolin and fiddle, Tessa Schwartz, 12, on fiddle and vocals, John Gooding, 14, on guitar and vocals, and his brother Jake Gooding, 16, on acoustic bass. The band features tight three-part harmony vocals which capture the “high and lonesome sound” distinctive to bluegrass music. The quartet has a large repertoire of songs, ranging from traditional bluegrass classics, hot instrumentals, gospel quartets and contemporary folk-inspired ballads. It received an enthusiastic response at the Fiesta on the Hill in Bernal Heights last year, and debuts on Potrero Hill at this year’s Festival.
More information at www.35YearsOfTrouble.com.