Author: Carlin, Larry

Jan. 3, 2008
Thursday, January 3, 2008

Here it is the beginning of the New Year. The rains are coming on, everyone is partied-out, and it is the slowest time of year for shows and such. It is usually a good time to hunker down and recover from the holidays. However, if you are recharged already and want to get out of the house to see some good bluegrass, there is certainly enough of it going on to keep you busy. If these next few days are any indication of the things to come for the rest of ’08, then it stands to be one smokin’ year…

The Belle of San Francisco -- These past few months have been heady times for Pam Brandon, a.k.a. Belle Monroe of Belle Monroe & Her Brewglass Boys. Last summer the band released their first CD to critical acclaim, in December they were selected to play at the Father’s Day Festival as one of the California bands, and yesterday she was prominently featured in a story in the San Francisco Chronicle. By day she is a structural engineer for a prominent firm in SF, and at night she is either fronting her bluegrass band or singing lead in the 12-piece Western swing band called Lost Weekend. You can see her sing with Lost Weekend on the 4th at the Black Oak Casino near Sonora, and see her play with the Brewglass Boys on the 9th at the Hotel Utah in SF.

Ray Bierl CD Release Party -- Longtime Bay Area singer, guitarist and fiddler Ray Bierl tonight will be celebrating the release of his new CD Any Place I Hang My Hat at the Freight and Salvage in Berkeley. Ray’s talents as a singer, guitarist and fiddler are well known in California music circles and his new album, produced by Berkeley bluegrass luminary Laurie Lewis, is a perfect showcase of his versatility and depth. Bierl draws upon rockabilly, old-time, country, and bluegrass for material. The songs on the CD come from a variety of sources including Elvis and Hank Williams. Joining Ray on his show will be some of the musicians who recorded with him including Lewis and local talents Bill Evans, Markie Sanders, Mayne Smith, Tom Rozum, as well as other special guests.

Jammin' in Marin -- The Marin Bluegrass Jam, which has been running for 8.5 years now, takes place on the first and third Thursdays of every month. So tonight you can join in at the Marin Lutheran Church at 649 Meadowsweet in Corte Madera, just off the Corte Madera exit of Highway 101. Deirdre Donovan will be hosting this one. The time is 7:30-10 p.m. The playing level is beginner to intermediate. It is a big room, so there is also space for those who may want to go and listen.

Hardly a man of constant sorrow -- The Dan Tyminski Band, featuring Dan on guitar, Ron Stewart on banjo, Justin Moses on fiddle, Barry Bales on bass, and Adam Steffey on mandolin show, will be playing at the Independent on Divisadero Street in SF on the 4th. This show was originally scheduled for the Palace of Fine Arts, but it was moved some weeks back. Opening will be Marin County’s own Hot Buttered Rum. Dan has been a longtime member of Alison Krauss & Union Station, and he was the singing voice of George Clooney in O Brother, Where Art Thou? Dan’s band will also be playing at The River City Festival and at the CBA’s Father’s Day Festival in June.

California pickers move to Oregon -- For this weekend, anyway. The other day many of the bands playing at the Fourth Annual River City Bluegrass Festival taking place in Portland on the 4th-6th were listed in this column. Here's a list of California-related players who will be there: John Reischman, Greg Spatz, Jim Nunally (John Reischman and the Jaybirds), Darol Anger, Scott Nygaard, Tristan Clarridge (Darol Anger's Republic of Strings), David Grisman Quintet, Tony Furtado, and Bill Evans, who will be teaching workshops and guest appearing with Dry Branch Fire Squad and the Republic of Strings.

Bluegrass buffet at the Freight -- On Friday the 4th there will be a triple-header of bluegrass bands playing at the Freight. On the bill are The Earl Brothers, The Whoreshoes, and Five Dollar Suit. Three bands for the price of one!

Tim O shows -- The Tim O’Brien Band will play two concerts in northern CA this week. On the 5th they will be play at the Center for the Arts in Grass Valley, and on the 6th see them in The Big Room at the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company in Chico. Appearing with Tim will be fiddler Casey Driessen, Danny Barnes on banjo and guitar, Dennis Crouch on bass.

Pacific Ocean Bluegrass II -- Young mandolin maestro Scott Gates now has a second edition of his Pacific Ocean Bluegrass band. Normally the band consists of Scott, Paul Davis, Dave Gooding and Jessica Johnson. But once a month the San Diego Version of POB (Scott, Jessica, John Mailander, Alex Finazzo, and Becky Green) has a gig at the E Street Cafe in Encinitas. You can see them play on the 5th from 6-7:30 p.m.

Strawberry alarm clock -- Tickets to the 2008 Strawberry Music Festivals on Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends are going fast. The fest has been selling out way in advance for years, and you have until January 11th to get the cheapest rate on an all-festival ticket. So if you are thinking about going, buy now and don’t worry later. For information about prices, go here for details.

B. Judd, Bluegrass Philosopher -- “Enjoy yourself. These are the ‘good old days’ you're going to miss in the years ahead.”
Posted:  1/5/2008

Copyright © 2002 California Bluegrass Association. All rights reserved.
Comments? Questions? Please email