Hooked on Bluegrass

Rick Cornish



I swallowed hook, line and sinker when I was twenty-seven years old. For years I’d played guitar—folk and blues mainly. Every Friday night my buddy and I would get together to play and sing. One Friday morning my pal called me at work and suggested that, rather than get together for our weekly session that night we should grab our tents and sleeping bags after work and go to a bluegrass festival. “What’s a bluegrass festival,” I asked? “Figure it out,” he answers, “blues, grass, get the picture?” That was all I needed to hear. That afternoon we headed off to Grass Valley.

Just about the time we’d gotten our tents pitched and opened a few cold ones, the music began on stage. We wandered over. “Doesn’t sound like blues to me,” I said. My friend agreed, but we sat down anyway. The first performer was Kate Wolf, and we listened to her entire set. Good music, but it sure wasn’t the blues I’d driven three hours to hear. Heh, where’s the blues. I came here for blues. Then a five piece band came on stage carrying instruments that were only vaguely familiar. Jake Quizz-something and the Something-Something Ramblers. This was DEFINITELY not going to be the blues. Jake’s first song was Little Maggie, a lightening fast, pulsing rendition. It was like someone had taken a brick to the back of my head ... it was like I’d been waiting to hear this kind of music my entire life.

That one song, sung by Jake Quisenberry nearly 30 years ago on a tiny stage in the middle of a pine forest with maybe 75 people in the audience, was to change my life forever. It would gobble up every bit of free time I had, it would take me to places I’d never dreamed of going and, most importantly, it would introduce me to the best friends I would ever have.

(posted 2/3/2008)


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