Hooked on Bluegrass
I grew up in Colusa and I slept on the front screen porch, since my two sisters had to have the real bedrooms inside the house. I figured out that if I wired my transister radio to the metal screen I could pick up the "KRAK corral of country hits" out of Sacramento, and listened till I fell asleep every night. I remember every year they had a river boat race that was a big deal, and they always had a live country band play at the end of the event. I thought those live bands were the coolest thing around. In Jr. high I wanted to start a country band but my potential band mates stated (rightfully so) that the chicks would really dig us if we played the rocknroll of the day.(Ventures, Animals, Kinks, Beach Boys, Stones, Beatles, Chuck Berry, etc.) My first guitar was a stella harmony, paid for by picking up walnuts. Then a hollow body dual pickup harmony electric in Junior High for the band with a sears 2-12 amp, paid for with a summer of flagging fields for crop dusters.
My junior year of High School my single mom, two sisters, and I moved to Chico. I was late starting school because I was working prune harvest in Colusa, and in those days in Colusa school didn't start until harvest was done. As I was sitting in the office waiting to explain why I was two weeks late for the start of school, I struck up a conversation with another transfer from out of the area, Ron McGlone. The conversation got around to music and my future brother-in-law told me that he and his Dad had been playing bluegrass music since he could remember, by way of Kentucky, Ohio, Colorado, California. They had a T.V. show in Sterling Colorado. He said most people in California at that time didn't even know what it was... I told him about hearing quite a bit of bluegrass on KRAK and I really liked it.
By the end of the year we had formed a band called "The Bluegrass Salesmen" and were getting some following in the area, mostly on the back of Ron's super hot banjo picking and 3 part harmony. I WAS SOLIDLY HOOKED!!! Dave Roden played the stand up bass that we High-Jacked from the high school and I played barely adequate bluegrass guitar and sang. Ron played his dad's Pre-war Mastertone, and I played his dad's 1947 Martin D-28. His dad must have been crazy letting us haul those around. Through playing gigs and working in gas stations and grocery stores we all bought our own instruments by year end... mine a new D-28, Ron a new RB-250, and I bought a Kay Bass that the piano player at Shakey's had in the back room.
The Bluegrass Salesmen played around the area for the next few years in many venues. Shakey's, local fairs, a concert at Laxon auditorium at Chico State, opened for The Righteous Brothers, and even got an invite to go on the "Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour". ( I was about to go in the Military, and we didn't do it) Great memories!!
In 1969 I went into the Army ( I was going to be drafted, so I enlisted to get Flight School) I flew helicopters in Viet Nam, was shot down several times, wounded and after 4 months in the hospital got out of the military and returned to Chico State. Our banjo player Ron had subsequently gone into the Marines, and our Bass player/lead singer Dave had landed a good job and was working at that time in Korea. So no bluegrass upon return except with Ron's dad. But...... Ron's younger sister Nancy had certainly grown up... and a year later we were married.
So life went on and I kinda slipped away from organized bluegrass until one of my employees, Martha Corpe, ( I had returned to the grocery business and became a Safeway store manager) told me about a Halloween Bluegrass Party at John (Shut-up) Corpes place. I went and immersed myself in Bluegrass Heaven, RE-HOOKED myself to this day. Thanks John Corpe, John Senior, George Best, Cris Hare, Pat Ickes, Nancy Zuniga, and so many more for taking Nancy and I back into the bluegrass way.
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