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He came, he played, he conquered not Julius Caesar this time, but Matt Flinner, whose flying fingers and musicianship helped the bluegrass band Powder Ridge place first in the prestigious 16th Annual Telluride Bluegrass Festival band competition. But the awards didn't stop there - Flinner placed first in the banjo competition (winning a Gibson RB-3 banjo), second in guitar and third in the mandolin competition.

Powder Ridge has been performing for just a year in such settings as the Festival of the American West, Fort Bridger Rendezvous, Snow Basin, Deer Valley, Snowbird, Utah State Fair and the Western Film Festival. This evening at 10 p.m. Powder Ridge will perform at Symphony Hall as part of West Fest.Songwriter as well as mandolin and banjoreen player for the group is Mike Iverson, former member of Hawgwash, Bitter Creek and Prairie Fire. Don Baker is also a former member of Bitter Creek and Prairie Fire and is guitarist for Powder Ridge. Playing mandolin and banjo is Matt Flinner, who also plays in the Matt Flinner Trio and is a former member of the Pee Wee Pickers. Flinner won the Telluride banjo contest in 1987 and has placed fourth in the national contest in Winfield, Kansas two years in a row. Flinner hosts the Bluegrass Express on KRCL radio on Sunday.

Fiddler Ryan Shupe also played with the Pee Wee Pickers and has won numerous contests in the state and toured Europe with his former band. Shupe just graduated from Weber High School. Singing lead vocals with Iverson is Bob Hardy, whose band background includes Cornhusker Road, Hawgwash and Prairie Fire. Hardy writes much of the material the band performs and is bass player for Powder Ridge.

Powder Ridge's blend of bluegrass, newgrass, western swing, Utah folk and contemporary music will be available on their first recording due out this summer. While Powder Ridge was recently the opening band for Berline, Crary and Hickman, their Telluride win should make them headliner material.

-THE FIRST ANNUAL All-American Bluegrass Festival will highlight Riverton's July 4th celebration.

Sponsored by Pepsi-Cola, the festival will feature free entertainment at the Riverton City Park, 12765 S. 14th West. Festivities will begin with a parade July 3 at 6:30 p.m. featuring the Flinner Brothers Band. At 8 p.m. the Flinners will host a bluegrass jam session in the Riverton City Park, and they invite everyone to bring banjos, guitars and fiddles to participate or just to listen.

On July 4, a 10K and Fun Run race will be held and breakfast served from 7 to 9:30 a.m. The South Valley pool will be open for free swimming; horseshoe pitching, children's booths and softball games will be held in the city park.

The Bluegrass Festival will run from 6:30 to 10 p.m. with Utah's Oquirrh Ridge Drifters, The Dusty Miller Band from Tennessee and Idaho's South Fork. At 10 p.m. Riverton's "Small but Sincere Fireworks Show" will begin.

For further information, call 254-0704.

-THE Western Stampede Bluegrass Festival is being sponsored by the city of West Jordan and the West Jordan Area Chamber of Commerce. The festival will be held on July 4 at the West Jordan Park, 7920 S. 22nd West.

Celebrating the Western Stampede Rodeo, July 1-4, sponsored by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, the bluegrass festival will begin at noon on July 4 and run until 6 p.m.

Four local and two out-of-state bands will play beginning with the Stormy Mountain Boys. At 1 p.m. the Rick Martinez Band will perform and at 2 p.m. the Oquirrh Ridge Drifters will take over. Powder Ridge will play at 3 and Idaho's South Fork will perform at 4 p.m.

The Dusty Miller Band from Kingsport Tennessee will conclude the festival at 5 p.m. featuring a five-piece band of exceptional talent. The Western Stampede Bluegrass Festival is free and open to the public.