Author: Carlin, Larry

Jan. 28, 2008
Monday, January 28, 2008

Amazingly so, for the first time in over a week the sun is shining here in downtown SF high atop the Almost Daily News headquarters and maybe this had something to do with the CBA site having been out of action for most of the day. It is great to see old el Sol again, but the weather guessers insist that it won’t last, and that another three days of rain are coming. At least the umbrella and shoes will have a brief chance to dry out before the next monsoons arrive. As a result of being kept indoors quite a bit lately some time has been spent reading, and below are some stories of note to check out.

Freeway Symphony -- There was an interesting story in the SF Chronicle on Saturday about itinerant symphony musicians who travel from orchestra to orchestra to play concerts, with some of the players being part of multiple ensembles or just freelancing. Not unlike bluegrass pickers in some ways. Though the pay for orchestra players is a bit better than for bluegrassers, and none of the former are playing for a percentage of the door or tips! Read all about it here. One item of note that you cannot find in the story is that one of the artists featured, Bruce Chrisp, is also a banjo player who has played some on the Bay Area scene. That’s right, he plays trombone and banjo. Fortunately, never at the same time…

Instrument makers -- In the same edition of the Chronicle there was this story about some Bay Area luthiers who make custom guitars, cellos and violins. Also, there was an accompanying insert about “voicing” instruments.

Doc in the Post -- There was a good piece about legendary flatpicking guitarist Doc Watson in the Washington Post this past weekend that you can read here.

L’herbe bleu en Berkeley ce soir! -- You can see/hear some hot bluegrass pickin’ with Evans, Megan and Nygaard at Le Bateau Ivre on the 28th from 7 to 9 p.m. Berkeley's fine French/eclectic restaurant is becoming a wonderful venue to catch great musicians playing in an informal and intimate setting. Join banjo player Bill Evans, fiddler Megan Lynch and guitarist extraordinaire Scott Nygaard tonight, have a great meal and hear three of the West Coast's most skilled instrumentalists. Admission is free but the "hat is aggressively passed," according to banjo player Evans. Le Bateau Ivre is located at 2629 Telegraph Avenue. Reservations are recommended for dinner, as the room is small. Phone (510) 849-1100.

Jammin' in Alameda -- The place to be for bluegrass pickin’ on Monday nights is McGrath’s Pub in Alameda. Every Monday starting at 7:30 you’ll find familiar faces all around you on bass, mandolins, guitars, banjos and fiddles.

Whoa, Nellies! -- From the gals themselves: “Do you ever feel that your bluegrass gospel just isn't hyperbolic enough? That fire-and-brimstone just seems so tepid? Well, the Barefoot Nellies have a treat for you! Opening for us on Monday night the 28th at Amnesia in SF is the new, excellent bluegrass gospel band Hyperbole Mountain. Featuring Ken Torke and Mark Wardenburg of the Mighty Crows and Lessley Anderson and Galen Krumel of the Lovin' 44s, Hyperbole Mountain will wow you with their great harmonies, excellent musicianship, and tunes plucked from the fringe elements of bluegrass gospel. Watching them is kind of like registering with the TSA -- it'll help you skip purgatory and head straight into heaven (provided, of course, that you're not a sinner or broadminded). After the Hyperboles, the Nellies will be returning to the Amnesia stage with some great new tunes, hot pickin', and sweet harmonies. Come early for happy hour (until 8 p.m.), and stay for the whole show.”

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

South Bay bluegrass barbeque -- The Mighty Crows will be pickin’ some hot bluegrass to go along with the spicy barbeque at Sam’s in San Jose on the 29th from 6-9 p.m., and on the 30th see The Sunshine Mountain Band. Reserve a table at (408) 297-9151.

B. Judd, Bluegrass Philosopher -- “At my age 'getting lucky' is finding my car in the parking lot.”
Posted:  1/30/2008

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