Author: Bartlett, Regina

Harmony Road

How do you say goodbye to a friend?
(The answer is at the end of this column)

The Boulder Creek Bluegrass Festival was sweet. All the bands played really well. The next event will be the 2nd weekend in July. Contact Eric Burman if you or your band would like to perform.

So I changed the strings on my guitar and dulcimer, cleaned the fretboards and practiced so that I really knew my set of songs. I had my friend Catt Porter join me in harmony on a couple songs along with Cactus Bob Cole on fiddle. There were lots of surprises and it was really FUN! I swear, Cactus Bob Cole is the Dean Martin of acoustic music.

The Bonafide Duo really played some very fine Bluegrass and Country Western music. Clean tight picking!

STRING SLINGERS: Ella was playing with Larry Gillis and so Becky Hendricks pinch fiddled with the String Slingers. Megan Herring just drove and slapped the bass and kept the band tight. They had everybody howling at the moon.

Belle Monroe & her Brewglass Boys closed the festival and they were absolutely fabulous. Pam Brandon is just a star of a musician. She sings, plays guitar, takes breaks, and backup and then she’s got a band full of really fine pickers: Ted Silverman singing lead and harmony playing mandolin, Jordan Klein driving on banjo, Diana Greenberg shreds the fiddle, and Tom Drohan’s strong thumping bass, Will Fourt on dobro.

Well out here on Harmony Road, music and life sure has picked up since the IIIrd Tyme Out Concert at the Morgan Hill Grange. Tim Edes put on a very successful show. He brings the real deal Bluegrass Music to the Community of Morgan Hill. Morgan Hill has a great Bluegrass circle of friends that can and do pick and jam.

Melissa Blas threw a fantastic farewell picking party and jam for : The Lovely and Talented Dawn Antelo who is moving to Texas!!! The El Toro Brew Pub, the site of so many good times, was the place to reminisce, pick and sing, and drink some Poppy Jasper Ale. There were many fine pickers in attendance and all were wishing Dawn all the best in her new adventure. She is moving to San Antonio, Texas. Duane Campbell says the “Just Picked” band is in shock!!!
At one time there were 3 jamming circles on the top floor and all made up of the fabulous musical talents of: Tim Edes, Bill Meiners, Ron Rose, Alex Leach, Steve Pexton, Cory Welch, Robert Cornelius and Suzanne Suwanda, Topher Gayle and his sweet lady, Mary Munro Kennedy, John Cooper, Duane & Michelle Campbell, Jody Whitney, Mike Lewis, Keith Davis and me.

Dawn has been playing Bluegrass Music with these friends for the past five years. Dawn has a great voice and can sing harmony really well and she has a killer mando chop and a great boom chuck too! We met jamming in Morgan Hill and then at picking parties, then at festivals: GOF, Grass Valley, Brown Barn. Song after song, picked and sung so well sure was thrilling. The music went until around 10:00 pm. Driving home over Hecker Pass I thought of how to finish writing my column, HARMONY ROAD.

How do you say goodbye to a friend you just love to play music with?
One more song please
Thanks for the wonderful times together
See you later
Happy Trails
Vaya Con Dios
God Bless.

Tonight I’m playing at Café Ella’s 5-8pm
Then I’m going to check out Windy Hill tomorrow night at Bocci’s Cellar in Santa Cruz.

I still have to get my camping gear ready
for the CampOut in Turlock !
Until then, be well and I'll see you out there on Harmony Road

THE DAILY GRIST…"The only escape from the miseries of life are music and cats.”? Albert Einstein

The CBA Music Camp Songbook...........
Today's column from "The Newbie" aka Randy Shelton
Thursday, March 15, 2012

Another exciting month has flown by. Daily practice, Bluegrass on the Tube, weekly jams, getting together with other enthusiasts to play guitar and fiddle, house concerts and the CBA Radio Show have become a monthly routine. Out of the norm was CBA Winter Music Camp at the Walker Creek Ranch near Point Reyes. Of course this was a new experience due to my short longevity as a fledgling bluegrass musician. I was excited to attend camp but at the same time apprehensive, thinking it would be way over my head.

Several weeks before camp I received a packet of information including daily schedules, menus, and the 2012 Music Camp Songbook. Upon opening the songbook I read the Table of Contents: Cold Rain and Snow, Deep Ellum Blues, Drink Up and Go Home, I’ll Fly Away, Fireball Mail, I’m Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes, In the Pines and Way Downtown, Blackberry Blossom, Home Sweet Home, The Red Haired Boy and Soldier's Joy. My immediate thought was “they want us to learn all these by camp, no way”. Most of the songs in the songbook were new to me. I spent hours trying to familiarize myself with these classics. Most of you may chuckle but remember, I’m The Newbie. After visiting Jeanie and Terry Ramos’ home the songs became a bit more familiar but a lot more work was needed. I tried my best to learn every song in the book and was looking forward to playing and singing some of them at camp.
Every day Music Camp was filled with fun and excitement. Classes, workshops, jamming and concerts were the best one could ask for. Meal time was special. It was time to enjoy great food and meet new people of all ages from all over the west. Swapping stories about the days classes and tomorrow’s expectations was a popular topic of discussion.

I especially enjoyed the evening concerts. It is not everyday one gets to hear musicians such as Roland White, Peter Rowan, Keith Little, Jim Nunally, Heidi Claire and Ron Thompson, Jack Tuttle, John Reischman, Annie Staninec, John Kael, Dix Bruce, Sylvia Herold and Bill Evans. The list goes on and on. A special thanks goes to Carol Spiker for the wonderful job she does with the Fungrass kids.

Did I hear a song from the songbook? No I did not.

Another highlight of camp was Sid Lewis’ Jamming 101/102 Classes. This guy is a riot. He is a fantastic teacher and has the patience to work with us “newbies”. He teaches “how to play well with others” and not to be a “Loud Larry” , “Noodling Ned”, or “Train Wreck Tony”. I highly recommend Sid’s classes. Be sure to read his monthly articles in the CBA’s Bluegrass Breakdown.

I still didn’t hear a song from the songbook.

One fellow in particular will always hold a special place in my music memory bank, Sheridan Malone, an admitted “barber shop junkie”. Sheridan showed up with Tommie Thompson and John Morris, all from Ukiah, Ca. Several times he encouraged the four of us to sing harmony at the dinner table. Despite mother’s teaching, at music camp it is acceptable to sing at the table and that we did. At the volunteer staff concert on Saturday night Sheridan on guitar, accompanied by Tropher Gayle on banjo, Kathleen Rushing on mandolin, Rick Schaffer on Dobro and Peter Young on bass put on a fabulous performance. They brought the house down with their performance of Bury Me Beneath the Willow/It’s Now or Never. Sheridan held everyone’s attention with his amazing vocal ability. He had the entire crowd on the edge of their seats in suspense, waiting for the final high notes which he hit perfectly. The audience was immediately on their feet, clapping, whistling and cheering, a standing ovation, how exciting.

On Sunday afternoon there was a Harmony Workshop taught by none other than Sheridan Malone assisted by Gail Reese. This vocal workshop will stick in my mind forever. Sheridan had 30 people singing in harmony in less than an hour. I am looking forward to singing with Sheridan again. Hopefully he will be on staff at future music camps, if so I’ll be there. Thanks for the confidence builder Sheridan.

Did I hear a song from the songbook? Not yet.

So what about the Camp Songbook you may wonder. I practiced several of the songs, wrote them on cards, watched them on Youtube, studied the words, sang and sang them to myself, listened to several on my iPod over and over for days. Did anyone ever sing them? Not until the last hurrah..........the final song of the final concert. The staff sang “Drink up and GO HOME”, so appropriate. I didn’t want to go home! Several of us stayed and jammed until after dark on Monday, squeezing every precious moment out of that final day. As I was departing on Tuesday morning “I’ll Fly Away” was stuck in my head.

Do I regret spending so many hours learning so many unfamiliar songs from the Camp Songbook? I do not! With a little more work, I will soon be able to include several of them in future jams.

Music camp was an experience to behold, a life changing event for sure. Thanks Ingrid for your dedication to this project. I can not imagine how many hours you must spend organizing and making sure every base is covered for the semi annual camps. Your staff, your volunteers and the camp staff were all top shelf. I do not think you could find a more suitable place than the majestic Walker Creek Ranch.

All in all the CBA Music Camp is a “not to miss” semi annual event for bluegrass enthusiasts of all ages and all levels. I am looking forward to next time. See you at the Spring Campout in Turlock.
Posted:  3/16/2012

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