BLUEGRASS QUARTET From left, Patrick Sauber, Mark Fain, John Jorgenson and Herb Pedersen. They perform at Healdsburg’s Raven Theater on April 21.

When done right, bluegrass sounds like old-fashioned music, almost antique—a sound from the narrow draws of the Appalachians, where cricks gurgle and grackles squawk. Surprisingly, though, it’s a 20th-century music, like jazz or swing or even hip-hop.

So when the John Jorgenson Bluegrass Band—J2B2—takes the stage at the Raven Performing Arts Theater at 7:30pm on Sunday night, it won’t be a tribute band or a nostalgia act but the real thing, American music played to the hilt by four of the best musicians around.

The first bluegrass band, the group that gave the music its name and signature style, was Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys, who only began playing together in 1940 (though the Monroe Brothers preceded them in time and style). Guitar, banjo and mandolin are mandatory, though a fiddle often appears as well. Add a standup bass, and that’s pretty much the same configuration J2B2 brings to town on April 21.

MANDOLIN MAN Multi-instrumentalist John Jorgenson brings his bluegrass quartet to the Raven Theater on Sunday, April 21. (Photo by Harry Fisher)

What makes J2B2 worth a listen is the skill its four pickers bring to the music. Its principals are guitarist-mandolin player Jorgenson and banjo-guitarist Herb Pedersen, both of whom played in the Desert Rose Band with country rocker Chris Hillman. Desert Rose was a lineal descendent of the legendary Flying Burrito Brothers, started by Hillman and Gram Parsons in 1968.

This is the royal lineage of country rock, but like many royal families there are cousins and kinfolk hiding in the strangest places.

Hillman, formerly of the Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers, seeded rock music with country influences, and took 1970s music in a direction far afield of the more electric Southern rock or glam rock or disco that characterized the reset of the decade.

That Jorgenson and Pedersen were in the mix can’t be overlooked, but it can be overstated. Both of them are exceptional musicians—Jorgensen ably plays an embarrassing assortment of instruments including dobro, piano, clarinet and bouzouki, and his talents have been a reservoir for everyone from Emmylou Harris to Elton John, Johnny Cash to Bob Dylan.

Pedersen is no slouch either, his 50-plus-year career spanning a Baskin-Robbins-like array of musical flavors, from the Dillards to Tony Rice, Linda Ronstadt to Tom Petty.

Bass player Mark Fain has toured and recorded with the [Dixie] Chicks, Dwight Yoakum, Allison Krause and even jazz combos, while Patrick Sauber rounds out the stringfellows with guitar and mandolin. They all sing, bringing that “high lonesome sound” of classic bluegrass to life.

Jorgenson’s the leader and star—J2B2 is just one of four outfits the 67-year-old musician currently fronts, including a gypsy-jazz quintet and an electric band (he played in the crazy-apt Hellecasters not so long ago).

But Healdsburg gets the bluegrass band, between gigs in Livermore and Czechia. Lucky us. 

Show begins at 7:30pm on Sunday, April 21, at the Raven Theater, 115 Plaza St. Tickets for the John Jorgenson Bluegrass Band are still available, $25 general, $100 front row, at

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Christian Kallen has called Healdsburg home for over 30 years. A former travel writer and web producer, he has worked with Microsoft, Yahoo, MSNBC and other media companies, usually in an editorial capacity. He started reporting locally in 2008, moving from Patch to the Sonoma Index-Tribune to the Kenwood Press before joining the Healdsburg Tribune in 2022.


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