The Oregon Bluegrass Association is back in the business of bringing great national acts to this state — and the next month will showcase a range of the best performers on tour anywhere these days.

To start with — Friday, May 8, the astounding Peter Rowan.

He’s an icon. Really.  He played with Bill Monroe. He played with Jerry Garcia. He’s had Tony Rice and the Nashville Bluegrass Band as his sidemen.  His voice is incredible, and so’s his songwriting. Good grief! He really is one of the few bluegrass legends performing today.

And his  backup band this time? Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen — a band that’s garnering awards as fast as Kim Kardashian makes headlines.

Next up, on Sunday, May 17, Laurie Lewis and Kathy Kallick singing the songs of Vern & Ray, showcasing their new CD.  They will be at the Alberta Rose Theater. Laurie and Kathy are amazingly versatile and talented musicians who are noted individually for their singing and songwriting, as well as their roles in groundbreaking bands like the Good Ol’ Persons.  After years of friendship and collaboration, they came back together to record the music of two of their major musical influences.  They will be accompanied by stellar musicians from each of their own bands to reinvigorate the music of Vern & Ray.

And finally — something we’ve been waiting for way too long: Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out are coming back to Portland on Thursday, June 18.  This writer can’t remember the last time they were in town — and I’m a huge fan of theirs.  They consistently win accolades for their vocals and harmonies — and they just seem to keep getting better.

Talk about bluegrass season — it’s coming on stronger than this year’s azaleas.

The first festivals are coming soon — Bluegrass from the Forest in Shelton May 15-17 and the Goldendale Pickers Fest June 5-7 — but even if you can’t get away from home, Willamette Valley residents will be able to hear lots of terrific music quite close to home.  Check out one or all of these great concerts.