Author: Alvira, Marco

Like a Trout

A friend of mine once likened me to a trout: you put something bright, shiny, and new under my nose and Iíll bite. Thatís the way I am with new projectsói.e., I just canít resist the lure of testing uncharted skills and challenges. I believe that our wily Chairman-of-the-Board figured that one out about me a while back and I have since been duped into plethora of projects. To be honest, however, much to my wifeís dismay, some of these enterprises have been at my own doing. Iím real excited about the newest one, but first some background.

As most of you know, the CBA has divided the state into geographic ďAreas.Ē The borders of an Area encompass a county or counties. Each of these Areas is assigned an Area Vice-President. For example, Chuck Poling has San Francisco Ė a single county with a large population, while Kelly Broyles has an area that encompasses Fresno, Madera, Kings, Merced, and Madera counties. Each Vice President is responsible for attending two Board meetings a year, publishing a newsletter, promoting bluegrass in their areas, and a whole bevy of other responsibilities. An active, engaged V.P. could become an integral part to an areaís bluegrass scene.

As a Mercedian, I happen to live in the Area covered by Kelly, while my neighbors just to the north of me in Stanislaus County are represented in Bill Schneidermanís huge territory. To those uninitiated in the nuances of Central Valley culture and life, we are simply know as that-really-hot-flat-place-in-the middle-of-California. Weíre the part of the State through which one tries to drive very quickly while on the way to Lake Tahoe or Reno. To those in the know, the distinctions in our attitudes, lifestyles, and tastes are subtle, albeit greatly varied. This is especially true when discussing the state of bluegrass in the Valley. Considering this, I proposed to the Board of Directors at our last meeting that we form a new Area--one to be created by combining Merced, Stanislaus, and Mariposa counties. Each of these counties lay in the hinterland of their previously respective Areas. Each also contains thriving bluegrass activity with a high degree of commonality. Your Board, being infinitely sagacious, saw the benefits of this proposal and unanimously voted yea. As you might guess, I was following that lure and bitóthe BOD affirmed yours truly as the new Areas first V.P.

Aside from the slight trembling of trepidation that I bore home, reluctant to tell my wife that I had yet another new activity, I am actually quite ecstatic regarding this new challenge. There is still so much untilled bluegrass turf here: bluegrass in the schools, an increased partnership with the local colleges, a newsletter, perhaps a Area web page, and promotion and coordination of a myriad of events, just to name a few. Over the last three years, a number of promoters have contacted me regarding bookings. Iím now salivating at the prospect of helping to bring more live shows to our area. Iím often inspired and amazed how John Hettinger, Area VP from the Sacramento Area, produces such a large quantity of quality house concerts.

Of course, the success of any plan, no matter how well conceived, relies upon the strength of the volunteers available for help. Fortunately, good help is not hard to come by in our Area, especially when David Brace and Jack Hyland live so close by, but it will take more than two or three folks to build and promote a strong community of jams, venues, etc. The core of the CBA lies in the volunteerism of its members. The strength of the Association is directly proportional to the number of folks who donít mind rolling up their shirt sleeves and chipping in on some project. There is nothing quite like the satisfaction and feeling of accomplishment one feels after completing a volunteer project. If you live in Merced, Mariposa, or Stanislaus counties and you have an event that you wish to promote, or if you wish to volunteer to do something for your Area or the CBA, drop me an email at And I promise not to call you a big trout, or any other kind of fish.
Posted:  6/3/2012

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