Author: Carlin, Larry

April 20, 2009
Monday, April 20, 2009

Gangsta grass? -- According to a wire service story in the SF Chronicle the other day, erstwhile gangster Al Capone “could read music and liked to play a banjo and a mandola, which is like a mandolin, only bigger.” Apparently he had a bit of time on his hands while staying at Alcatraz back in the day, and he formed a band while on The Rock. He also wrote a song called “Madonna Mia” that somehow got lost in the shuffle over the years, and now, more than 70 years later, the tender love song is being recorded and released on CD. The guess here is that there were no banjo jokes uttered by any of Scarface’s band mates…

Ralph headed west -- Bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley & The Clinch Mountain Boys are headed this way this weekend, so make your plans now. On the 24th they will appear at The Palms in Winters, on the 25th at The Freight & Salvage in Berkeley, and on the 26th at the Stagecoach Festival in Indio.

Rolling Stone knows bluegrass? -- While hardly considered a paragon of bluegrass music, Rolling Stone magazine has a story titled The New Bluegrass: Five Acts to Watch that has created quite a buzz in the bluegrass blogosphere. Some of the acts are hardly “new,” and some are questionably bluegrass. Read the story here.

Slow jam session in Berkeley -- The Fifth String music store in Berkeley is hosting a new slow jam session on Monday nights. John Kornhauser from the Dark Hollow Band and Ran Bush are trying it out in April and May, and last week it was a lot of fun. 7-9:30 p.m.

Ramblers in Moss Landing -- Tonight is Monday so this means that at Phil’s Fish Market in Moss Landing you can experience live bluegrass. See The Courthouse Ramblers tonight from 6:30-8:30 p.m.

Burrito grass -- The Monday night Baja Taqueria Invitational Bluegrass Jam in Oakland at 8 p.m. will feature Tom Lucas, Neil Linden, Gerry Tenney, Joe Kenny, and Bruce Campbell. Have a burrito and enjoy the bluegrass.

Jammin’ in Alameda -- The place to be for bluegrass jammin’ on Monday nights is McGrath’s Pub in Alameda. Starting at 8:30 p.m. you’ll find familiar faces all around you on bass, mandolins, guitars, banjos and fiddles.

Jammin’ in Signal Hill -- Every Monday night, from 6-9 p.m., there is a bluegrass jam at Curley’s Café in Signal Hill. The address is 1999 E Willow Street at Cherry Avenue. Everyone is welcome. For more info contact Jim Wieser at

Bluegrass in the mountains -- At the Braemar Country Club in Tarzana on the 21st you can see the Julie Wingfield Band play. Most concerts at the club are free and you can purchase dinner (a pasta buffet, complete with soup, dinner salad with added chicken breast) for $14, served all evening beginning at 6:30 p.m. Such a deal! Bar service available. Ample seating and free parking.

Bluegrass jamming class -- The new Tuesday bluegrass jam class at the 5th String in Berkeley started on the 7th and it will run through May 26th. The time is 7-9:15 p.m. This class is open to all players and singers and will get you prepared for the upcoming festival season. This is a practical, hands-on course. You'll do lots of playing in both the large group and in smaller breakout groups and you'll learn at least one new song per week. To get the most out of this class, you should be able to play chord changes on your acoustic instrument smoothly at 80-120 beats per minute. Classes are $22.50 in advance or $25.00 at the door per session. Please note: the folks at the 5th String can't answer questions about the class. For more info contact Ran Bush at (510) 525-8156.

Deep Elem at Phil's -- On the 21st at Phil’s Fish Market in Moss Landing from 6:30-8:30 p.m. you can experience live bluegrass with Deep Elem. They play there every Tuesday. No cover.

Bluegrass night in Chula Vista -- The San Diego Bluegrass Society is having its third Tuesday bluegrass night at Fuddruckers in Chula Vista on the 21st. From 6:30- 7 p.m. there is an open mic, followed by bluegrass karaoke hour from 7-8, and then more open mic from 8-9. During the karaoke segment you get to sing and/or play a bluegrass song with the host band, The Full Deck. Go to the web site to find out how to sign up.

South Bay bluegrass barbeque -- Cabin Fever will be pickin’ some hot bluegrass to go along with the spicy barbeque at Sam’s in San Jose on the 21st from 6-9 p.m. Reserve a table at (408) 297-9151.

Mother’s Boys in Altadena -- The trio known as Mother's Boys – Topanga's 2008 "Music Legend" Peter Feldman (mandolin/guitar), Rick Cunha (guitar/slide guitar), and David Jackson (bass) – dynamically recreate the music of the Carter Family, Jimmie Rodgers, and other country music greats with wonderful harmonies, at the Coffee Gallery in Altadena on the 21st starting at 8 p.m.

B. Judd, Bluegrass Philosopher -- “The perversity of nature is nowhere better demonstrated by the fact that, when exposed to the same atmosphere, bread becomes hard while crackers become soft.”
Posted:  4/22/2009

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