Author: Cornish, Rick


Good morning from Whiskey Creek, where instead of Jack Daniels, our stream runs with ice cold water for the first time since last March, where a stone walk-way leading from the house to our parking compound lies half-completed and is likely to remain so for quite a while to come, and where 29,782 lawn seeds, (nine sacks of Scott’s Turf Builder® Grass Seed), breathe a collective sigh of relief that they got sewn just in the nick of time. Yes, we have ‘crossed over’; three days ago we hit 86 degrees, this morning it’s 49. Many people love the fall and winter. I’m not one of them.

Mr. Cliff would normally be seen here on the second Friday and I share your disappointment that we’ll have to do without him for this month; I’m assured he’ll be back in December. So instead of hearing from the bard I’ll tell you where Lynn and I are headed tomorrow morning. But first this.

In 1976 I attended my first bluegrass festival and driving home late Sunday afternoon from Grass Valley I realized the second most fun thing in the entire world to do was to play and sing bluegrass standing around in a circle…something called a jam. It was a staggering, life-changing realization, but it only lasted six months or so because it took only that short amount of time before I’d begun my first bluegrass band, (the Half-Assed Bluegrass Band). And, of course, I realized immediately that the second most fun thing (SMFT) in the world to do was to stand in front of people and sing and play bluegrass. A few years later, a third epiphany: what was really the SMFT in the world was performing for an audience while in a band that WAS NOT half-assed.

In June of 1987, a Friday evening, the truly second most fun thing in the world to do became crystal clear when, along with my three band mates, I stepped out onto the stage at the Fathers Day Festival with my bass fiddle and sang my head off. Clearly the SMFT! Within six months or so, however, things came into focus and I was finally able to appreciate what was, beyond any doubt, the second most fun thing in the world to do, and that was to play the fiddle. Well, at least after the first six months or so I could sense that fiddling would be the second best. It would take three or four years to know for sure.

Then, seven years later, again in June, again in Grass Valley, I experienced the SMFT of all SMFT’s. My son Phil, who’d been attending festivals since he was three years old and who had about as much use for bluegrass music as a sea urchin has for mittens, showed up unexpectedly at Grass Valley and, out of the blue, spent the weekend singing tenor parts to my lead. He’d shown not a lick of interest in the music until then…I was dumbfounded. It wasn’t long after that Fathers Day weekend that I bought my son is first mandolin and, you guessed it, discovered that the second most fun thing in the world to do was actually to play fiddle/mando duets; Gold Rush was the first. But the absolute penultimate, the truly and ultimately most fun thing, was stepping out onto the stage in front of several hundred people a few years later and singing and play a lovely duet with my boy. I mean, really, what could be better than that? Life just couldn't get any better than that.

Until, that is, I received a call from Phillip three weeks ago. “Dad,” he asked, “are you sitting down?” I told him I was. “Dad, Lexy just asked me if gramps could give her a fiddle for her fourth birthday.” So tomorrow Lynn and I are driving down to San Jose with two birthday presents; a quarter-size fiddle for Lexy and a baritone uke (strung like a guitar but with four instead of six strings) for Teddy, my grandson who turns four just two weeks after Lexy. I’m preparing myself for another epiphanal realization…I feel one coming on.

Posted:  11/9/2012

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