Author: Carlin, Larry

March 11, 2009
Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Learning something new. I often get asked how I find all of the information that is found in this column. There is no short and easy answer, as the news comes from multiple sources. I read three newspapers a day; I look at national web sites (Country Music Television, The Bluegrass Blog, Cybergrass), as well as the CBA Regional Newsletters, Calendar and Message Board; there are the sites for the regional bluegrass associations; and folks sometimes send me info via email. One of the many pleasures I get from writing the column is the discovery of something new. Last week it was the Portland square dance video and the SoCal singer Stephanie Bettman. This week it is the young and talented duo called the VanNorstrand brothers from Michigan. While scanning the CBA Calendar I saw that these guys would be playing a house concert in Grass Valley tomorrow (see below), but I had never heard of them before and there was no web link in the posting. So I did a search, found their site and also discovered that they will be playing a series of shows throughout the state in the next ten days. They look like real up and comers, and with any luck you will have a chance to see them play sometime while they are here.

Life’s railway to heaven -- Grand Ole Opry star Hank Locklin died on the 8th at his home in Brewton, AL, at age 91. He had big hits with “Send Me The Pillow You Dream On” in 1958 and in 1960 with "Please Help Me, I'm Falling." Jimmy Boyd, the childhood star who had a monster hit at age 13 with the song “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” in 1952, died from cancer in Santa Monica on the 7th. He was 70.

Bluegrass in Moss Landing -- Every Wednesday night at Phil’s Fish Market in Moss Landing from 6:30-8:30 p.m. you can experience live bluegrass. Tonight see Mr. Banjo & The Lonesome Wailers play.

Jammin’ in Paso Robles -- "Matt's Jam" takes place every Wednesday from 6-8 p.m. at Matt's Music, 617 12th Street, in downtown Paso Robles. For more information call (805) 237-0054.

South Bay bluegrass barbeque -- Diana Donnelly & The Yes Ma’ams will be entertaining you with bluegrass and vintage country songs to go along with the spicy barbeque at Sam’s in San Jose tonight from 6-9 p.m. Reserve a table at (408) 297-9151.

Pickin’ in Petaluma -- Ed Neff and Friends play bluegrass every Thursday at the Willowbrook Ale House in Petaluma from 6:30-9:30 p.m. There is no cover, and you get to hear some of the finest traditional bluegrass in the North Bay. The regular pickers are Ed Neff on mandolin, Mike Wilhoyte on guitar, Jeff King on bass, Paul Shelasky on fiddle, and banjoist Larry Cohea. The address is 3600 Petaluma Boulevard North. Call (707) 775-4232 for more info.

Jammin’ in Morgan Hill -- In Morgan Hill the jam at the El Toro Brewing Company takes place on Thursdays from 6-10 p.m. For info contact Dick Simunic at (408) 316-4745 or

Amazing brothers -- Andrew and Noah VanNorstrand can be seen playing a house concert in Grass Valley at 7:30 p.m. on the 12th. While still in their teens, the brothers have managed to carve themselves a unique niche in the modern alternative folk arena with stunning ability as both performers and composers. Celtic and Appalachian fiddling traditions are certainly evident in their music as well as other influences such as old-time, country, bluegrass, contra dance and Cajun/Zydeco. They have developed a multi-genre blend that stands on its own. For info email or call (530) 272-6498. And on the 14th they will play the Sacramento Contra Dance starting at 8 p.m.

Jammin’ in Napa -- There is a bluegrass jam session at the Pizza Hut in the town of Napa every Thursday night from 7-10 p.m. For more info call Pat Calhoun at (707) 318-1913 or email

High Country in the city -- The Atlas Cafe in SF presents the best in live bluegrass and old-time music every Thursday night from 8-10 p.m. On the 12th see High Country play.

Jammin’ in Berkeley -- Thursday night is beginners jam night at the 5th String Music Store, 3051 Adeline Street, in Berkeley, from 7:30-9:30 p.m.

Martians in Santa Barbara -- See the Salt Martians play bluegrass every Thursday evening from 5-7 p.m. for happy hour at the Tupelo Junction Cafe, 1218 State Street, in Santa Barbara. Call (805) 899-3100 for dinner reservations. Full bar and no cover.

Jammin’ in Redwood City -- There is a weekly bluegrass and old-time jam on Thursdays at 5th Quarter Pizza, 976 Woodside Road in Redwood City from 7:30-11 p.m. The venue is music friendly, and food and drink are available. For more info contact Mark at rwcbluegrass@gmail.

Jammin’ in Sacto -- Every Thursday evening, from 7-10 p.m., there is a jam at The Fifth String Music Store, located at Alhambra & J Streets in Sacramento.

Weekend fests -- The Sonoma County Bluegrass & Folk Festival will be taking place in Sebastopol on the 14th, and it is a one-day festival co-sponsored by the CBA & the Sonoma County Folk Society. This year’s festival at the Sebastopol Community Center will feature Laurie Lewis & Tom Rozum, The Stadler/Gibbons Band, Rosebud Blue, The Ray Bierl Trio, The Earl Brothers, and the Kapalakiko Hawaiian Band. The Brookdale Spring Bluegrass Festival in the Santa Cruz Mountains will be happening on the 13th-15th. Some of the acts to see are The West County Professional Tea Sippers, The Rose Creek Ramblers, Faux Renwah, Chojo Jacques & Billy Bright, Harmon’s Peak and The Stoney Mountain Ramblers.

B. Judd, Bluegrass Philosopher -- “When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading.”

Posted:  3/13/2009

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