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World music concert introduces bluegrass sounds

OCEANSIDE — Scott Gates and the Salty Suites bluegrass band performed before an audience of more than 100 at the Civic Center Library on May 12. “The music is fast, lyrical and fun,” Andy Gates, Scott’s father and manager, said. “His band is instrumentally brilliant.”

Scott took to the stage in bare feet. He appeared humble and instantly likeable.


Scott Gates, third from right, and the Salty Suites bluegrass band: Chuck Hailes, standup bass, Chelsea Williams, vocals and guitar, and Elaine Gregston, accordion, perform during the World Music Concert Series. Photo by Promise Yee

Audience members described his music as loud, clear and luminous.

“He gets you involved in the music,” Blake Kern, vice president of Friends of the Oceanside Public Library, said.

His father describes him as a musical prodigy.

Scott grew up in a musical family in which his grandfather played the mandolin and his mother played the piano.

Following in his family’s footsteps, he played the piano at age 3 and the mandolin at age 7.

“He was instructed by professional teachers and players, but was surrounded by music all the time,” Andy said.

Scott began composing and performing on stage at age 9. That was also the time he put his own twist on playing the mandolin by performing improvisational solos. Since then Scott, now 19, has also mastered the guitar.

Scott and the Salty Suites perform throughout the Southwest at more than 120 venues and bluegrass festivals a year and have been invited to play in Ireland.

“It’s all passion driven,” Andy said. “He’s living his dream. He’s wanted to be a professional musician since I can remember. He’s never taken his eye off that target.”

The band consists of Chuck Hailes on stand up bass, Chelsea Williams performing vocals and guitar and Elaine Gregston on accordion. The band members live throughout California and travel and perform together.

“I’m really proud of him and the band,” Andy said. “He stuck true to his musical roots. It’s the music he loves and believes in.”

The free concert is part of the World Music Spring Concert Series sponsored by Friends of the Oceanside Public Library. The World Music Concert Series is held in spring and fall.