Bluegrass Isn’t Just for ‘Toothless Hillbillies’

Bringing the Sounds of Oklahoma to California, the Gifford Family Has Made ‘Banjo Music’ Popular in the Inland Empire and Beyond

“Only toothless hillbillies listen to that banjo music.”

John Gifford heard taunts like this all the time. Growing up in Riverside, a Southern California suburb, in the 1960s and ’70s, he was surrounded by friends who worshipped Simon & Garfunkel and studied the way Mick Jagger pranced on stage. But when he and his two brothers, Richard and Larry, got home from school, they picked up banjos and guitars and sang bluegrass—a tradition in their family that dates back generations to Oklahoma, more than 1,000 miles away.

Today, three decades …

Don’t Count on Your City to Build an Arts Scene for You

In Riverside, Coachella’s Director, the Local Arts Walk Founder, and a Historian Say the Best Thing Artists Can Do Is Make Things Happen for Themselves

Who or what creates and builds a city’s arts scene? How can a flourishing arts community advance to the next level? At a “Living the Arts” event co-presented by the …

Undocumented, and Riding Shotgun

I Thought I Was an Average American Teen Until I Tried to Get a Driver’s License

Up until my early 20s, I rode shotgun. With my high school and college sweetheart, I flipped through the soft sleeves of our shared CD binder in search of the …

The Inland Empire Will Do Just About Anything to Insure You

In a Massive, Highly Diverse Region, Getting People Healthcare Means Getting Creative

If you build it, they won’t come. So you’ve got to go to them. This was the big takeaway from the first year of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in …

Where the Rock Stars of the Marching Band World Come Out to Play

Riverside Was and Is Southern California’s Drum Corps Hotspot

A futuristic scrapyard setting. Three 60-inch TV screens showing black-and-white static. A lookout tower. Then: a steady beat from a player on a drum set, cymbals crashing, and marimbas rolling …