Author: Carlin, Larry

Feb. 7, 2008
Thursday, February 7, 2008

Freedom of choice. With the big primary election here in California two days ago there has been lots of talk about all of the wonderful freedoms we have in this country. One of those is your choice to go and see some bluegrass bands play these next few days, and man, do you ever have some opportunities! There is a lot of stuff going on, so get out and exercise your right to experience some great bluegrass.

SPBGMA Awards -- The SPBGMA bluegrass awards were meted out on Sunday, and some of the winners were Rhonda Vincent for Entertainer of the Year and Female Contemporary Vocalist, her band won Vocal Group, The Grascals won Instrumental Group and Overall Bluegrass Band (whatever this means), and Josh Williams won as Guitar Performer (formerly of Rhonda’s band). For a complete list of winners, go here.

All the world’s a stage -- For the third time in as many weeks there is yet another musical production needing musicians to perform in a show. The previous two were in Sonora, and now this one is in El Cerrito. Alan Spector is the musical director for Foxfire, a show about people in the hills of Georgia. The Contra Costa Civic Theater in El Cerrito will stage the show, and the production needs three musicians: fiddle, banjo, and acoustic bass. Being able to sing harmony is a plus. The show will run in April for four weeks for a total of 15 performances. The gig pays $500 each for the run of the show. To audition, email Alan at or call him at (510) 558-8120.

Jammin’ in Sacto -- Every Thursday evening, from 7-10 p.m., there is a jam at The Fifth String Music Store, located at Alhambra & J Streets in Sacramento.

Experienced duo -- Jim Nunally and Keith Little, who also play in the David Grisman Bluegrass Experience, on the 7th will be playing at The First Street Cafe, located at 440 First Street in Benicia, from 7-10 p.m. Bring an appetite with you as the café has an extensive appetizer and dessert menu, and beer and wine are offered as well.

Not quite Irish or bluegrass -- But it is close enough for me. You can see the band Nine-8ths Irish tonight at 8 p.m. when they play at the Fox & Goose in downtown Sacramento. This is a four-piece band playing mostly traditional Irish music, with award-winning fiddler Linda Relph on fiddle, Chris Dunlap on bodhran, Bo Bowen on whistles, and Kathy Barwick on guitar. They just released their first CD, West of Ireland, to rave reviews. Great pub, food and music. No cover.

Blue & Lonesome North Bay Tour -- You have three opportunities to see Blue & Lonesome perform these next three days. Tonight they will be playing under the guise of Ed Neff & Friends at the Willowbrook Ale House in Petaluma starting at 6:45 p.m., on Friday see them at Murphy’s Irish Pub in the town of Sonoma starting at 8 p.m., and then on Saturday afternoon they will play from 2-4 p.m. at the Iron Springs Brewery in Fairfax. No cover at any one of these venues. The band is Ed Neff, Paul Shelasky, Mike Wilhoyte, Jeff King and Larry Cohea.

Chocolate Drops in Berkeley -- The amazing African-American revivalist string band The Carolina Chocolate Drops will be in the area for just one show, and that will be tonight at the Freight & Salvage in Berkeley.

Country and bluegrass in SF -- There is a triple bill tonight at Café du Nord in SF featuring Town Mountain, Burning Embers and The Cowlicks, starting at 8 p.m.

One smokin’ duo -- Russ Barenberg & Bryan Sutton, both bluegrass virtuoso flatpickers, will be playing three venues in the Bay Area over these next few days, so there is no excuse not to see them. Russ has been nominated for a Grammy for the best country instrumental performance, and Bryan is one of the busiest flatpickers around, having played with Ricky Skaggs, Jerry Douglas, Earl Scruggs, Béla Fleck and others. On the 7th they will be at Don Quixote’s in Felton, on the 8th at the Sutter Creek Theater in Sutter Creek, and on the 9th at the Palace of Fine Arts in SF.

Capital bluegrass -- Portland's finest bluegrass band Jackstraw can be seen and heard playing tonight at the Delta of Venus in Sacramento, starting at 9 p.m. Also on the bill is the band the West Nile Ramblers.

Noe grass -- Speaking of Jackstraw, you can also see them on the 8th in SF at the Noe Valley Ministry. Also on the bill are Fret Not and The Wronglers.

David Grier in Reno -- Grammy award-winning guitarist David Grier, son of one of Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys, grew up in bluegrass music. He'll be playing a concert in Reno, sponsored by the Nevada Bluegrass Project, on the 8th at a private residence. Tickets are $20 in advance, $25 at the door. To attend, contact Cindy Gray at or (775) 348-4692.

Woody in Sonora -- Starting on the 8th and running through March 23rd Stage 3 in Sonora presents the play Woody Guthrie’s American Song, a musical journey of Woody Guthrie down highways, rail lines and back roads into the heart of America. This exuberant musical celebration tells the life of the rambling folk singer through his words and music. “This Land is Your Land,” “Bound for Glory,” and “Hard Travelin'” are a few of the songs performed by ten of the area’s actors, singers, and musicians. For information or tickets, call (209) 526-1778 or

Here comes Del -- The Del McCoury Band is playing two shows in the North Bay this weekend. See them on the 8th in Arcata at the Van Duzer Theatre and on the 9th at the Raven Theater in Healdsburg.

Jammin’ in Sonora -- On the second and fourth Friday there is a bluegrass jam at the Old Stan in Sonora, so head on over on the 8th at 7 p.m. There is no official ending time so people are welcome to pick until they drop.

B. Judd, Bluegrass Philosopher -- “I am nobody...Nobody is perfect...THEREFORE...”
Posted:  2/9/2008

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