Author: Carlin, Larry

December 4, 2009
Friday, December 4, 2009

Grammy nominations -- If you get excited about such, the Grammy Nominations were announced two days ago and you can look at the list here. For Best Bluegrass Album category the nominees are Jim Lauderdale, Steve Martin, Bryan Sutton, Rhonda Vincent and Michael Martin Murphey. Before you get your bluegrass boxers in an uproar over the dearth of real bluegrass bands on this list, bear in mind that the people who vote for these things are folks that willingly pay to join NARAS, and most of them know about as much about bluegrass as Afghanistan president Hamid Karzai does, so this is how rockers like Bruce Springsteen can win for Best Contemporary Folk Album. This being said, all bets are on Steve Martin from this vantage point…

Life’s railway to heaven -- Jack Cooke, longtime bass player with Ralph Stanley & The Clinch Mountain Boys, died of an apparent heart attack in Norton, VA, on December 1st. He was 72. Read his obit here.

Swingin’ in Oakland -- Swing Tonic delivers an eclectic mix of swing, folk, country, jazz, 'round-the-world delicacies and just about anything in between on the 4th starting at 7:30 p.m. at the Spice Monkey Café, a restaurant in downtown Oakland. Drawing from their varied musical background, the four members blend vocal harmony with the surprisingly un-clashing sounds of accordion, trumpet, guitar, mandolin and bass. No cover charge, and the venue is kid friendly.

Bluegrass and old-time in Bolinas -- The Black Crown Stringband will be playing the finest in old-time music at Smiley’s Saloon in Bolinas on the 4th, and on the 5th it will be bluegrass with the Marin band Savannah Blu. The big question is: can the denizens of Smiley’s handle two nights in a row of hillbilly music?

Fiddling around -- Master Scottish fiddler Alasdair Fraser and cellist Natalie Haas on the 4th will perform at the Arcadia Fiddle Workshop in Sierra Madre, and on the 5th the Beckman Institute Auditorium in Pasadena.

Woody Guthrie in Sonora -- The stage show Woody Guthrie's American Song is back for another run at Stage 3 in Sonora, and it runs through December 20th. Conceived and adapted by Peter Glazer, the show is a “foot-stompin', roof-raisin', toe-tappin' heartbreakin', soul-soarin' musical journey of Woody Guthrie down highways, rail lines and back roads straight into the heart of America.”

Bluegrass musical in SF -- The Custom Made Theatre Company presents a new production of the late Harry Chapin’s bluegrass musical Cotton Patch Gospel and it runs through December 19th at the Next Stage in San Francisco. This is a progressive and musically joyous look at the Jesus story told through a very modern lens. Using 26 songs, one amazing actor, three singers, and a bluegrass band, Cotton Patch is for everyone who wonders if the peace and love promised by the gospels is still possible in our modern world. The music is performed by Pam Brandon (a.k.a. Belle Monroe), David Finch, Jeff Kaplan and Matt Lauer.

Houston Jones in SoCal -- The Bay Area’s self-proclaimed high-octane Americana band Houston Jones is in the LA area this weekend. On the afternoon of the 5th at 2:30 p.m. hear them live on KCSN (88.5 FM) in Northridge on the Americana Matinee with Kat Griffin, and then later that evening at 8 p.m. they will play Russ and Julie's House Concerts in Oak Park. On the 6th it will be The Coffee Gallery Backstage in Altadena starting at 7 p.m.

Blue Grass Boy in Mt. View -- Peter Rowan, who at a young age learned a bit about bluegrass while playing with the master Bill Monroe, will be appearing with his bluegrass band (Jody Stecher, Keith Little, Paul Knight) at the Redwood Bluegrass Associates show in Mountain View on the 5th. Also, there was a story about Peter yesterday in the San Jose Mercury News.

Scott Gates goes to Disneyland! -- The Nathan McEuen Band, featuring young mandolinist Scott Gates and Chuck Hailes on bass, will be playing with on the 5th at Downtown Disney from 6-10 p.m. Scott started playing Disney as a walk-on at 9 years of age, and now he will be on the stage with his band ready to bring you a night of fun and great music.

Banshees in Sacramento -- A great evening of music and fun will be had on the 5th at 8 p.m. with Banshee in the Kitchen at Paul & Candy Anderson's house concert in Sacramento. Banshee, comprised of three highly energetic women, plays Celtic music with eclectic skill and merry abandon. They take traditional Celtic tunes and stir them up with playfulness and musicality, a term they call "banshee-fying." Please reserve ahead of time by emailing or phone (916) 455-6312.

’bout Time in Sunnyvale -- Winter is almost here but this won’t stop 'bout Time from playing outdoors this Saturday the 5th at the Sunnyvale Farmers Market from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. The market is temporarily located in the Caltrain parking lot on Evelyn Avenue.

Jammin’ in Modesto -- There is a jam in Modesto taking place at Ingram and Braun’s Musik Shoppe on Saturdays from 3-5 p.m. at their location at 503 Bangs Avenue. Go on by to join the fun!

Upper crust jam -- On the 5th from 2-5 p.m. the Butte Folk Music Society sponsors a free acoustic jam at the Upper Crust Bakery, located at 130 Main Street in Chico. Everyone is welcome (including children) to go and play music, share songs, sing-along and get acquainted with others who love folk music and Americana.

Turn your radio on -- Tune into Peter Thompson’s Bluegrass Signal radio show on KALW (91.7 FM) in SF on the 5th from 6:30-8 p.m. The show this weekend is titled The Greatest Hits Of 1952, featuring music released on 45s or 78s during that year by Bill Monroe & His Blue Grass Boys, Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs & the Foggy Mountain Boys, Stanley Brothers & the Clinch Mountain Boys, Reno & Smiley & the Tennessee Cut-Ups, Jimmy Martin & Sonny Osborne, Jim & Jesse & the Virginia Boys, Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper, Mac Wiseman & the Country Boys, the Lonesome Pine Fiddlers, and others. You can listen online on the KALW web site, and the show is also broadcast five times each week on

Posted:  12/7/2009

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