Hooked on Bluegrass

Dave Earl

My first real exposure to bluegrass was engineering a project Laurie Lewis produced and played on at my San Francisco recording studio in 1985. The music sounded really soulful and great but seemed real technical and hard to play so I continued with the music I knew - playing traditional Chicago blues style harmonica. I played gigs at all the local clubs and had the opportunity to play on records, tour Europe with a band and appear on some major festivals and such.

In 1998 I bought a mandolin to learn pre-war style country blues. A client noticed the mando at the studio and asked me if I'd like to go to a bluegrass jam in Redwood City that happened every Friday night. It seemed like sort of an exotic thing to do but I said I'd give it a try. What I found was a bunch of nice people playing music for fun. There was a lot to like about it: vocal harmonies, all acoustic, several different types of instruments, short and to the point instrumental breaks, tons of interesting but accessible songs, and camaraderie with people playing music for music's sake.

Sunshine, Lou and the other folks at the jam were nice to me even though I sucked at mandolin so I kept coming back every Friday night. Eventually I learned more and started playing mandolin and singing with local bluegrass bands. I've played/studied traditional American music all my life but playing Bluegrass has opened the door to a new world of great people, great music and good times.

(posted 12/17/2005)

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