Author: Cornish, Rick

Independence Day
My wife, Lynn, believes that since I began writing this daily column, I’ve become a more psychologically balanced person. Happier, less crazy and neurotic. Her theory is that I unconsciously use the little stories that I write as a sort of web-based confessional. Instead of carrying around my self-loathing and recrimination like a sack of potatoes all day, I shed it each morning in the “Welcome” column…..or at least those days that confess some screw up or neurotic episode. Which, come to think of it, is most days.

I’m not sure if I agree with Lynn, but I’m willing to check it out. I’ll share with you something particularly “out there” from a couple weeks ago, something that I’ve been regretting, then I’ll monitor how I feel the rest of the day.

It was Fourth of July weekend, and we had houseguests for a couple of days. Friends of Lynn, Wayne and Bonnie. Wayne’s a big, loveable guy, a barber who loves to talk and has something positive to say about most everything. He’s not a braggart or competitive guy…..he’d rather talk about the other fella than himself. Which was okay by me since I’d rather talk about me than the other fella. (I warn you, this is going to be a little grim).

By Sunday morning, the Fourth, I’d shown Wayne just about everything around the place worth bragging on…..I’d told him all my favorite stories about me….covered every accomplishment, real and imagined…..and still, I was desperate to impress this guy, to make him like me. We were in the kitchen, preparing a brisket to be smoked for dinner that night, when I caught the name of the D.J. on the SERIUS Satellite All-Bluegrass Channel—Chris Jones. And instantly it came to me. What could possibly be more impressive than hearing my son singing and playing mandolin on satellite TV? Maybe even performing one of his own songs. Chris, a fine, nationally known singer and songwriter, had written the liner notes on the new Rick Jamison and Copper Canyon CD. So, that meant that a) he held the album in high regard (unless he’d written a bogus testimonial; b) he had a copy of Tales from the Canyon (unless, God forbid, he didn’t have it there in the studio with him); and c) the CD had just been released so it was eminently playable.

Of course, to have the greatest impact on Wayne, the song would have to come on without warning….without my even hinting that it might be played. The song would just start up and I’d say nonchalantly, “Oh, hear that? That’s my kid. Phil. He wrote that one. Gettin’ some solid national air play.” CRUSHINGLY impressive.

Now, SERIUS Satellite All-Bluegrass is not a request show. In fact, they don’t even give out a phone number or e-mail address. But that was okay. All I’d have to do was to keep Wayne in the kitchen until Chris played a cut off Phil’s CD. How long could that take?

When we finished rubbing down the brisket and putting it in the smoker, I suggested to Wayne that we make a BBQ sauce. An original, very, very slow cooked one. We started pouring ingredients into a big stainless steel pot. Pour, stir, taste, adjust… pour, stir, taste, adjust….. pour, stir, taste, adjust…..and of course all the while we listened to SERIUS bluegrass. As each song ended I was certain the next one would be from Tales from the Canyon. After all, why wouldn’t Chris Jones play a cut from it? He’d written the liner notes. You couldn’t write that a CD was “loaded with great new bluegrass songs that display a broad emotional and musical range” and not want to share it, via satellite, with the world on Independence Day. Our country’s birthday, for God’s sake. Chris would play it, he’d play it.

So we waited. Of course Wayne didn’t know he was waiting. As far as he knew he was just hanging out with Lynn’s slightly nuts husband, humoring him with the BBQ sauce thing, listening to more bluegrass music than he’d heard, or wanted to hear, in his entire life. Two hours into Jones’ four-hour show I decided I needed to become proactive. I couldn’t call in a request….couldn’t e-mail one in. But why not try sending some vibes? I walked over to the TV, placed the palms of my hands on the screen, closed my eyes tightly and thought with all my might, Chris, play some Copper Canyon….. Chris, play some Copper Canyon….. Chris, play some Copper Canyon….. Chris, play some Copper Canyon….. Chris, play some Copper Canyon….. Chris, play some Copper Canyon….. Chris, play some Copper Canyon….. Chris, play some Copper Canyon…..

“Are you okay,” Wayne asked. I must have looked in pain. “Yeah, sure. Just checkin’ the, ah….er…..heh, you know what, that sauce needs more white pepper. Let’s throw in some white pepper and maybe a little more lemon juice.”

And so it went for two more hours. I tried transmitting to Chris a few more times. And there was corn to husk, potato salad to make and of course sauce to perfect. When Chris Jones finally announced the last song of his Independence Day show, Roll in My Sweet Baby’s Arms, I suggested to Wayne that we take a walk down to the creek. Get some fresh air.

And that’s it. No surprise ending. No ironic twist. Not even a little chuckle. Just a neurotic, horribly insecure, past-middle aged man wasting the better part of a day trying to impress a guy who didn’t need impressing. But now that I’ve told you about how I spent the Fourth with Wayne and Chris, I’m thinking it was actually a pretty nice day. And the brisket was heavenly.

Heh, I’m feeling pretty good. Ready to start my day. Lynn may have something here
Posted:  7/4/2005

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