Author: Cornish, Rick

The Trespassers
Good Saturday morning. In deference to one of our regular web site visitors who asked, via an e-mail yesterday, why it is that I seem to think anyone would be interested in the weather here in Jamestown, I will not start today’s Welcome column by telling you that the snow here left pretty much as quickly as it came, skies are overcast and threaten showers, but the intense cold that’s had its vice grip on us for the past several days has, for the moment, relented and, hence, we expect no more of the white stuff until next year. Opps, I just did it. Okay, at least I won’t dwell on the weather.

In 1957, my best friend Brooksie Judd and I stepped hesitantly out onto the Birdseye maple stage in the auditorium/lunch room at Highland School in Hayward, California, and sang our little eleven-year-old guts out. We sang the then wildly popular ‘Poor Little Fool’, a Ricky Nelson classic, and so began my life-long and life-shaping addiction to microphones.

I used to play around with hearts that hastened at my call,
But when I met that little girl I knew that I would fall.

Poor little fool, oh yeah, I was a fool, uh huh..

She played around and teased me with her carefree devil eyes,
She'd hold me close and kiss me but her heart was full of lies.

She told me how she cared for me and that we'd never part,
And so for the very first time I gave away my heart.

The next day she was gone and I knew she'd lied to me,
She left me with a broken heart and won her victory.

I'd played this game with other hearts but I never thought I'd see,
The day that someone else would play love's foolish game with me.

I typed the foregoing totally from memory and I don’t think I missed a single word; not bad for a guy who can’t remember what he had for lunch yesterday. But that should give you some idea of just how weighty an impact that talent contest back in 1957 had on me. And it should explain why, when I showed up last night at the Old Stan, a Sonora eatery, bar and legend just purchased by the equally legendary Peter Barnato of McGrath’s fame, I almost instantly accepted an invitation from the Trespassers, who’s girl fiddle player is hiking in he Andes this week, to sit in with the band. (I say almost instantly because I’d just finished a stout and felt I needed one more if I was to judiciously weigh the pros and cons of setting foot on stage with three twenty-some year olds who were too young to be my sons.) Actually, it took two more stouts, but at about nine p.m. the Trespassers, (Ben, Ben and Andy from Yosemite), and their guest fiddler, (the old, local guy), let loose with a swingy, old timey band original, written, thankfully, with only four chords. And what a wild ride we had for the next two hours, my new friends and I. Everyone in the place, (save Peter, his chef and I) were roughly the same age as the band, early to mid-twenties, and they loved the music; grooved with the tunes; swam with the jam. Claw hammer banjo, guitar, stand up base and left-handed fiddle. I won’t try to explain what kind of music the Trespassers play (the three of them tried to explain that to me and couldn’t seem to agree) so I’ll just say to anyone interested that you can hear some of their stuff at

Peter left a little while after we started; he’s got a BIG day today, has to create a book keeping system for his new business. Not long after the chef left and so it was just me and a big room full of screaming, clapping, grooving kids. And you know, I didn’t feel any more out of place or self-conscious than I had as an eleven-year-old covering a Ricky Nelson tune. (Due in no small part, I must add, to the extreme graciousness of my three temporary band mates who, by the way, will be joined by their fiddler, Sarah, at the Connecticut Yankee in SF on January 11.)

I know of no one who does a better job here at Welcome Column Central conveying the special, inexplicable joy of making music for people than my good friend Bruce Campbell, and its for that reason I wish he were here, sitting next to me right now, so he could help me find just the right words to describe my fleeting two hours as a Trespasser. Suffice it to say that fifty years ago I stepped on stage into a brave new world and last night it was no less stranger, braver or more joyfull.
Posted:  12/29/2007

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