Hooked on Bluegrass

Gene Bach

When I grew up I didn't even know bluegrass music existed. While I was busy listening to Johnny Cash my brothers were listening to Kiss and AC/DC. Sometime in my early 30's I first started paying attention to bluegrass music although I still didn't really listen to it much. When I was around 37 I decided to try and learn how to play the banjo, so I got a decent one and looked for a teacher. While I was learning how to play my instructor told me about an organization called the Southwest Bluegrass Association and how they had camp-outs and jams. She said it would be a good idea to get with those folks and learn more about the music.

My wife and I attended our first camp-out in Southern California and by the time it was over we were both hooked. What a great time we had! Lots of people to play with and everybody seem willing to help you out and even put up with your mistakes. After that I got a bit more serious about playing the banjo and even entered a couple of contests where I got second place each time. After awhile a friend said, "Here's a mandolin, try it and see what you think." I played it and seemed to pick it up fairly quickly and soon forgot about the banjo. It was about that time that we moved from Southern California to Northern California andb discovered the CBA. Here I became involved with the stage crew for the Father's Day festival and did a ton of picking and made lots of friends.

By this time I had aquired a pretty decent collection of CD's and was listening to bluegrass almost exclusivly. A couple of folks moved up from Sacramento to Yreka one winter and we got together with them and formed a band to play for the tourists at the local train stop. We did that all that summer and the next summer played in out first festival. By this time I had started thinking it might be cool to bring some bluegrass music to Yreka and so started putting on some shows. Also about this time we became involved with another band that we're still in today. The shows went over well and I started thinking about the possibility of a weekly bluegrass radio show. I approached the local FM country station and they agreed to give it a try. Now I'm helping to get a festival going in a town about 25 miles from here. To say I'm engrossed in the music would be an understatement.

Not only does the music touch my soul deeply but I've found that the people envolved in the music are, by and large, great folks to be around. I suppose the reson I'm so hooked on the music is a package deal: listening to music that touches me, playing that music and being around so of the most wonderful people on the face of the earth.

(posted 2/3/2008)

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