Author: Carlin, Larry

January 15, 2010
Friday, January 15, 2010

Time to reboot -- Is it possible to restart this new year of 2010? With all of the calamity in the world right now – Jay Leno and Conan O’Brien duking it out on late night TV (as ratings skyrocket), Simon Cowell retiring from the TV game show American Idle, and baseball behemoth Mark McGwire stunning no one by admitting that he used steroids so he could get a job back in the sport – how can we possibly get out of bed every day? Fortunately for the rest of us, we have the world of bluegrass to help retain our sanity. There is a lot of it going on this weekend, so grab the kids and instruments, load up the minivan, and head out to a jam or a show. Don’t let every one else have all of the fun for you!

House concerts -- Do you find it hard to get out of the house sometimes to see and hear live music? Well, why not have it come to you? There is a great story in the SF Chronicle today about the blossoming house concert scene in the Bay Area, and it includes some tips about how to put on your own event. If you have a big enough room and some extra chairs, all you have to do – to borrow a saying – is build it and they will come!

Life’s railway to heaven -- Until now in this segment of the Almost Daily News I have mostly kept to bluegrass and country singers/players/writers. However, from here on out the boundaries are going to be expanded some, since for many of us our styles of music go beyond these two genres. This being said, a couple of notable musical artists passed away this week. Bobby Charles, the singer/songwriter who wrote such monster hits as "Walking to New Orleans" and "See You Later Alligator" died on the 14th in Louisiana after being in remission from kidney cancer and suffering from diabetes. He was 71. He also wrote the classic song “Tennessee Blues” that was recorded by many and is one of Geoff Muldaur’s signature songs…Rhythm and blues singer Teddy Pendergrass, who was one of the most successful figures in music until a car crash 28 years ago left him in a wheelchair, died of colon cancer on the 14th in Philadelphia. He was 59. Some of his hits were "Close the Door," "It Don't Hurt Now" and "Love T.K.O."

Crazy Heart -- The new film Crazy Heart, starring Jeff Bridges as a down and out country singer, has been garnering rave reviews, though I have not seen it yet. T-Bone Burnett, the man behind the O Brother film from a decade back, wrote some of the music for this new movie, and he was interviewed on the National Public Radio show Fresh Air With Terry Gross the other day. You can read or listen to the interview here. One of my favorite all-time movies – also about a similar subject – is Tender Mercies, which won Oscars for Best Screenplay (Horton Foote) and Best Actor (Robert Duvall). Duvall is also featured in Crazy Heart.

New Earls -- The SF original bluegrass band The Earl Brothers have a new CD out, and it has a one-of-a-kind title: The Earl Brothers. You can get your own copy at CDBaby. Their new fiddler is Tom Lucas.

Old-time is not a crime in Portland! -- At least, not this week it isn't. If you aren’t there yet then hop on a plane and head north to attend the 11th Annual Portland Old-Time Music Gathering. It runs through the 17th.

Triple bill at the Plough -- At the Starry Plough in Berkeley on the 15th you can see three bands for the price of one when Lady A and Her Heel Draggers, Simpler Times and The Brothers Comatose begin the festivities starting at 9 p.m. $8 cover, so that is $2.66 a band. Where are you going to find a better deal than this in these dire economic times?

Boys down the coast -- The Montara Mountain Boys will be playing bluegrass at the San Gregorio General Store south of Half Moon Bay on the 16th from 11 a.m.-1 p.m., and on the 17th it will be bluegrass with The Circle R Boys from 2-5 p.m. No cover, you can have a beer and also get you shopping done while you are there.

Rita and Mary in Winters -- Rita Hosking & Cousin Jack will be sharing the bill with Mary McCaslin at The Palms Playhouse in Winters on the 16th.

High Country in Sacto -- The Bay Area bluegrass band High Country will be appearing at the Fifth String in Sacramento on the 16th starting at 7:30 p.m. for an in-store concert celebrating the release of their new CD Perfect Companions.

Sara and friends in Sebas -- Sara Winge, Carlo Calabi, and Bill Foss will be plucking plaintive old-time country songs with plenty of harmony and Bill's oh-so-tasty mandolin at the Pine Cone Restaurant in Sebastopol on the 16th from 7-9 p.m. No cover.

Dirt dude in Sutter Creek -- John McEuen, a founding member of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, can be seen playing at the Sutter Creek Theatre on the 16th starting at 8 p.m.

Blu grass bonanza in SF -- The Marin County band Savannah Blu will be playing the Bluegrass Bonanza series at the Plough & Stars in SF on the 16th starting at 9:30 p.m. Go early to find parking.

Squares in Berkeley -- The annual Breakin’ Up Xmas Square Dance will be happening on the 16th at Ashkenaz in Berkeley starting at 8 p.m. with the Stairwell Sisters playing and Evie Laden doing the calling.

Menage a quatre in Sonora -- They may be old and gray, but they are hardly in the way! Enjoy hard-driving bluegrass by The Grass Menagerie on the 16th at Stage 3 in Sonora starting at 8 p.m. The band is Sean Brennan on guitar and mandolin, Rick Cornish on fiddle, Ron Cotnam on bass, and Bill Schneiderman on mandolin and banjo.

Turn your radio on -- Tune into Peter Thompson’s Bluegrass Signal radio show on KALW (91.7 FM) in SF on the 16th from 6:30-8 p.m. The show this week is titled Red Wood, Blue Grass, a preview of RBA's Spring Series with new music by The Tuttles with AJ Lee, Nashville Bluegrass Band, Dry Branch Fire Squad, Joy Kills Sorrow, and the Kathy Kallick Band. You can listen online on the KALW web site, and the first hour of the show is also broadcast five times each week on

Jammin’ in Sebastopol -- The place for bluegrass pickin' on Saturdays is the  
Posted:  1/18/2010

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