Hooked on Bluegrass

Dave Nielsen

Last night I had dinner at Don Quixote's Mexican restaurant in Felton CA. I was there to see IIIrd Tyme Out and to help Cuzin' Al Knoth celebrate 39 or 40 years of Bluegrass radio. I got there 2 hours before the show, hoping that the “table nazi” wasn't there, as I wanted to arrange a large table for Al and his family and some KPIG folks. I was successful in my table endeavor, and started visiting with friends and acquaintances. It was a great evening and well attended. The band played and sounded great and Al was warmed by the kind words and greetings.

So, I told you that to tell you this, it's all Al's fault! Like everyone else, I had heard Lester and Earl on the Beverly Hillbillies and had heard of Bill Monroe. But that fateful day, south of Salinas, I was bouncing down a dirt road in my Snap-On tool truck when I stumbled onto KFAT Radio. I was instantly drawn into a radio station that had tons of personality and played music that was not main stream. Sometimes, if one of the DJ's went off into a long old timey set I would change the dial, but would always come back and eventually liked it all. Cuzin' Al's show on Sunday evening from 6 - 9 PM became an event - a destination, with the barbeque lit and tape rolling. Somewhere between the comedy, Hawaiian & Cajun I became a fan and record collector. Eventually I moved to Gilroy and opened a business there. I befriended many of the DJ's and even did some radio myself.

Fast forward many years, Laura Ellen Hopper, by then at KPIG, started KFAT.com and solicited old FAT aircheck tapes. They rolled in and for a time I enjoyed listening. I was talking with Laura on the phone one day and the conversation came around to the call for tapes. Laura said “all are welcome except Al's Bluegrass show”. She said she thought she had multiple copies of every show he had ever done. I began to understand that I wasn't the only one who thought enough of Al's show that it needed to be preserved.

Fast forward a few more years and an opportunity arose to help the CBA archive their recordings, going back to some of the earliest FDF's. Mark Hogan and I began cataloging these old tapes and what did we find? Boxes of reel tapes of the Cuzin' Al Bluegrass show! Some are more than 25 years old. It was proof that there are many of us who loved his Bluegrass Shows.

So, I'm hooked on Bluegrass. I try to play the guitar and learn new songs, and can't wait to travel with my Darlin' to the spring campout, Parkfield, Father's day in Grass Valley and Plymouth and……

(posted 4/14/2009)

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