Author: Bartlett, Regina

Harmony Road--Bluegrass Music Legacy

A legacy is something that we pass on to the next generation.
What we’ll be remembered for. It’s something that we may never see come to fruition or know it’s impact...

For several years now I have been very involved with the Kids on Stage and Kids on Bluegrass programs of the NCBS and the CBA and I love what I do. I have watched the miracle and magic of Bluegrass Music performed by amazing kids that have developed their talents with several instruments and observed some incredible personal growth along the way. This is my Bluegrass Musical Legacy.

Once I was told Bluegrass Music is bigger than you or me, and for a while I believed this to be true. I learned thru watching the relationship of Bluegrass Music and the people that play it that Bluegrass Music is not bigger than you or me, but rather that we are bigger because of Bluegrass Music. We have direct connections to Bill Monroe’s Legacy, Bluegrass Music.

The IBMA Award Nominations have just been announced and I can say that I know every musician nominated and have had friendly exchanges of one kind or another with each of them, one to one and personal. However there has never been an award to recognize the musical growth of a Kid in Bluegrass or on the Stage until now!

The First Annual Kids on Stage Special Achievement Award was presented to Jesse Personeni at the Good Old Fashioned Festival. Jesse plays, guitar, banjo, bass and sings. I have worked with Jesse for about 5 years now and watched him mature into a fine young man. I knew him when he first began to play a guitar and bummed picks off of folks…yes he worked that one very well! The next year, he was playing Jimmy Martin songs so well that I introduced him to Audie Blaylock as the reincarnation of Jimmy Martin…and Audie gave Jesse a pick! Then Jesse took up the banjo and hung out with those Gooding boys, Josh, John and Jake and also his friend Townsend. He’s been on a Bluegrass Quest and has grown into a wonderful musician. He is always ready to play a tune and always gives his best in a performance. His Mama raised him well. Thank you Angela for your wonderful son Jesse!

I have directed the Kids on Stage at the Good Old Fashioned Festival for 12 years now and this year I had 18 kids in the program with 6 rehearsals that lead up to the Sunday Main Stage performance. The first meeting is a Meet and Greet party with all of us getting to know each other since we will all be hanging out together and putting on a show. We have treats and say who we are, what instrument we play, and why we like it, our favorite song, what our favorite band or musician is, and what was the last live music concert we saw. The answers go around the circle and each child learns something about the person next to them. I then tell the Kids the times of the rehearsals and what each rehearsal will determine: song choices, song selection, timing, dress rehearsal, and the First Annual Kids on Stage Water Balloon Battle. It was rather hot Saturday. The kids like having time off to go play with their friends, see their family or friends perform on stage or fine tune their song. I always let the kids make choices and do my best to let them express their talents and answer their questions.

My KOS Crew was: Kay Wilkes, Karen, Dave, Sara and Paige Weaver. Betsy Riger has helped me for the past 5 years and this year, Karen Weaver really helped me with the timing and making decisions as to song placements. Karen was my right hand person and did an excellent job.

We were on time with the entire show and that included the encore song and a last minute song replacement. Everyone on the Crew loves what we do with the Kids on Stage program. The Weavers brought really good treats too! Sara and Paige Weaver had been part of the KOS before so as young women they really stepped up and did some kid herding when necessary! Once when everyone was waiting, we used the finger of shame when someone was late for a rehearsal . We all helped the Kids put on a very professional performance on the main stage. We get out of their way. That’s our job to do and our Bluegrass Music Legacy.

AJ Lee hung out with us Saturday. Nate, & Max Schwartz watched Tessa rehearse her song. Marty Varner came by to say howdy and Billy Pitrone watch some three part singing and offered his encouragement and support. Our camp neighbors really supported the Kids on Stage and watched the rehearsals and performance. Betsy Riger was also there for Saturday.

The Kids on Stage were: Maybelle, Tessa, Helen L, Max and Griffin,
Emily the dancer, Wyatt and Brian, Townsend, Jesse, Veronica, Sadie, Juliette, Helen Foley, Talia, Isaac Cornelius.

Their performances were wonderful and there is so much I could say about each performer. All of them were so talented and focused. Tessa Schwartz wrote an original song, “We’re All in This Together” ! Very wise lyrics Tessa! ;

Jesse, Isaac and Townsend brought the Bluegrass Punch into all their performances that comes from all the performing they have done for Frank Solivan at Grass Valley. Isaac sang, “Sitting on Top of the World“,
Jesse and Townsend played, “Foggy Mountain Breakdown“, and “Air Mail Special” by Jesse McReynolds. Jesse and Townsend also were part of a Tweener Trio: Born to Bluegrass.

Helen Lude played and sang lead and harmony on several songs and was awesome. She sang three part harmony with Big Helen Foley and Juliette on, “Long Black Veil“! Helen and Tessa also played twin fiddles on “Red Hair Boy”.

Veronica Varner brought her friend Sadie and they play ukelele together with Juliette on guitar and sang and played 2 amazing songs in harmony. “Drops of Jupiter” and “The A-Team“. The songs were a little on the pop side of acoustic music but performed very well indeed!

Juliette, sang harmony and played guitar with Veronica and Sadie and is an amazing singer. She took part at the CBA Camp and I look forward to hearing more from her.

Max and Griffin have played and told jokes for years…ever since the were about 4 years old. This year they both played guitar, told jokes and played lead and fiddle and were so confident and full of FUN on Stage. They had a good time and the audience did too! They played, “Radio Boogie” and “Gates to Go Thru”...a very funny joke was pulled off...again!

Helen Foley and Talia played “Nellie Kane” on banjo and guitar and 2 part harmony. Then they brought up their friends Wyatt on guitar and his brother Brian on bass and they did a great Bluegrass version of “Hey Joe” by that Bluegrass icon, Jimmy Hendricks!

Wyatt and Brian were the newbies of KOS and performed, “ First Day of My Life” They are very fine musicians and Wyatt has a great voice. I think we’ll be seeing these guys again.

The Encore was: “Where the Soul of Man Never Dies“.
The kids dedicated the encore to: Earl Scruggs, Doc Watson, Warren Hellman, Shirley Tudor, and all our loved ones who have passed this year

I’d like to thank the Moms and Dad who take their kids to music lessons and festivals like the Good Old Fashioned Festival and Grass Valley and patiently watch and nurture the talents of their children. You’re there for them. You hear every note…one way or another! You deserve respect and are loved for what you do. Thank you. They are your Bluegrass Music Legacy.

My good friend, (the Newbie?) Randy Shelton has a YouTube video of their concert at this link: ;

Randy's off to Bower's Mansion - He played several songs for me and what an amazing voice he ask that 'newbie' to sing you all a tune.

I will be home, enjoying the Coastal breezes off the Monterey Bay, counting my many blessings, cleaning out and organizing my garage this weekend. I can do it, I know I can.

A legacy is something that we pass on to the next generation. What will you be remembered for?

See you all out there next time on Harmony Road!

Posted:  8/17/2012

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