Hooked on Bluegrass

Kim Elking

Thirty five plus years ago, my brother and I were in some bands together. He had been playing the guitar since he was nine. I did not play an instrument, but I sang on harmonies. My boyfriend had also been playing for many, many years. We played music with a lot of harmonies like Crosby Stills and Nash and various folk music.

Around 1971, I moved to the Sierra Nevada, and lived over the mountains from the Quincy area. We met a banjo player there, and that was it. We started playing a little bit with him, and I became very inspired to go beyond just singing harmony, and learn an instrument. I found a mandolin for thirty dollars, and sitting up on a hill in the Sierras, taught myself how to play.

My brother was in a band called the “The Long Valley Boys” who played at the first Grass Valley festival. So I came to that festival with my mom. It was a great experience. That first festival, and the first four or five bluegrass albums I owned really put the hook in me. Those first albums are still my favorite of all time. The very first album I owned was by the Bray Brothers. Dianna Donnelly and the Yes Ma’ams are going to do one of those Bray Brothers songs at this festival (Fathers Day 2008), which I am really excited about.

Side Saddle is going on their thirtieth year. Dianna was in Side Saddle for the first ten years. As well as Side Saddle, I play with Dianna Donnelly and the Yes Ma’ams. It is so great to be singing with Dianna again. We’re like singing sisters.

Music is important to me. Without it, I’d probably shrivel up, die, and blow away

(posted 7/10/2008)

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