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Bluegrass series returns to West Side Theatre
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Special Consensus will kick-off the Bluegrass Series at West Side Theatre on Jan. 16. - photo by Photo Contributed

The popular Bluegrass Series is returning to the West Side Theater with the opening performance featuring Red Dog Ash and headliners Special Consensus on Jan. 16.

Special Consensus is a four-person acoustic bluegrass band that formed in 1975 out of the Chicago area. The quintet has a repertoire that features traditional bluegrass standards, original compositions by band members and professional songwriters, and songs from other musical genres performed in the bluegrass format.

The band has released 17 recordings and has appeared on numerous National Public Radio programs and cable television shows, including The Nashville Network and the Grand Ole Opry at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee. International tours have brought the band to Canada, Europe, South America, Ireland and the United Kingdom.

Special Consensus has appeared in concert with symphony orchestras nationwide and has brought an informative in-school presentation to schools nationally and internationally since 1984. Band leader/banjo player Greg Cahill is the former President/Board Chair of the Nashville-based International Bluegrass Music Association and the former Board Chair of the Nashville-based Foundation for Bluegrass Music. He was awarded the prestigious IBMA Distinguished Achievement Award in 2011.

In 2012 the band released Scratch Gravel Road released by Compass Records and was nominated for a Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album.

Other band members include mandolin player Rick Faris, guitarist Dustin Benson and bass player Dan Eubanks."Country Boy: A Bluegrass Tribute to John Denver," the band's 17th recording, released by Compass Records in March 2014, was honored in October 2014 by the International Bluegrass Music Association with two major awards: Instrumental Recorded Performance of the Year for "Thank God I'm A Country Boy" and Recorded Event of the Year for "Wild Montana Skies.”

Central Valley artists and fan favorites Red Dog Ash will be returning to the Bluegrass Series as both performers and hosts.

The band, which gets its name from the byproduct of uncontrolled coal fires, is made up of banjo player Dixon Smith; Gary Vessel on mandolin; bass player Elijah Arrigotti; and Jason Winfree on lead guitar.

The group writes the majority of their own songs and even replicates the bluegrass tradition of choreographing their playing around a single microphone.

Doors will open at 6 p.m. and the show will start at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 16. Tickets are $15 general admission and $18 for reserved seating. For tickets visit

The Bluegrass series will feature one new show a month through April at the West Side Theatre.