Author: Bartlett, Regina

Harmony Road…Oh My Bluegrass Stars

Watching the Tony Awards the night before leaving for Grass Valley made me think of all our ‘stars’ in our Bluegrass Community. I wish that I’d kept a journal on all the great moments, incredible things that had happened and the wonderful people there…these stars of Bluegrass!

I arrived on Monday and met many folks who were attending the Music Camp. It was like a family reunion seeing so many old friends camping in their usual spots! I attended the Instructors Concert and was really impressed and wished I‘d signed up for the camp. I could have studied with Kathy Kallick! Perhaps next year.

The 38th Father’s Day Festival at Grass Valley was so much fun. I woke up early around 4:30 am to get in the ‘chair line’ and met many of the usual suspects. I have to give special recognition to Martin Martini who went up and down the line serving Starbucks coffee: decaf and regular with cream and sugar…twice. What a guy! Folks say that he does this every year. It was the first time for me to get some coffee from him and I was delighted with his random act of kindness and thoughtful consideration of us CBA folks in line. What a guy!

The Kids Bluegrass Music Camp was incredible and Darby and Front Country deserve a lot of recognition for their good work. The Kids on Bluegrass directed by Frank Sollivan put on two awesome shows and the kid’s performances were sensational and all of them are so very talented. It’s amazing to see how much each one of them has grown musically since last year. What entertainers and musicians these kids are.

The California Bluegrass Association has mastered the education and passing forward of our Bluegrass Musical heritage. The results of our efforts include: Angelica Grim Doerful, A.J. Lee, Molly, Sullivan and Michael Tuttle, Nate and Max and Tessa Schwartz, Marty & Veronica Varner, and Alex Sharpe. We can see the next generation of stars in the making on stage at Grass Valley each year. We nurture them, then get out of their way and thanks go to Frank, Darby, and the KOB staff for getting the job done so well.

The days at Grass Valley just flew by so fast! I tried to do it all. The entertainment was superb. The workshops were so good. I have to rave about Josh Williams guitar workshop. He was so open and showed many licks and stuff he learned from being in the Tony Rice Unit. The workshop went on for almost two hours. I am so glad that I went. Mona and Cliff Compton came by my camp with gifts and songs.

Mona got around on her scooter and was everywhere! Vern’s Stage, The Pioneer Stage, and the Main Stage. The jamming was fabulous. The tent area was jumping with jams everywhere. Camp Spam was the dominant force of Bluegrass! Surprise, surprise, surprise! The kids slept out on mattresses under the stars when they did sleep…otherwise they were picking.

I went over to the Larry Baker’s Hot Dog Stand and found Special Consensus and Amy and Paige Anderson jamming on the jazz standard, “Lady Be Good”! It was hot and they were oh so good! I walked about from jam to jam and later I found myself at Rob & Cecilia Shotwell’s camp and at one of the best jams of the festival (for me).
Sunday morning Bluegrass Church with Leroy and Jan McNees, Craig Wilson and Mike and Yvonne Tater always touches me deeply. I never miss it.

I was so impressed with my camp neighbors and all the young people playing Bluegrass and Old Timey music with such passion and precision. Many are going to Susanville, Kate Wolf, and Telluride. I stayed over Sunday night and jammed with these pickers and David Lang and Ron Rose and Mike Fisher until about 2:00 am in an empty campground that had been filled with campers all week. It was kind of eerie when out of the shadows Marcos and Mark Hogan appeared!

Never thought that I'd hear a Joni Mitchell song on the Main stage at Grass Valley!! It was beautifully sung by Melody of Front Country. Della Mae was fabulous and worth the wait of two years for them to appear at Grass Valley. I really enjoyed Melvin Goins! He reminded me of my Dad who would clown around and make me laugh! Now if we’d bring out Bobby Osborne I’d be a happy Hillbilly Girl! I grew up hearing both of them play on the WWVA Jamboree live radio show. Speaking of radio, I’ve just got to mention what a great job Marcos did as an emcee Sunday afternoon. Well done my friend!

I loved seeing J.D. Rhynes be acknowledge by all the musicians from the stage. We are blessed with his presence. What a guy!

I stopped in Vacaville and visited with J.D. - my Granddaughter -and had many swimming races with her. She’s four now and smart as a whip.

When I got home I had a message to go to Don Quixote’s in Felton because my friends, Jimmy Chickenpants were opening there for The Howling Brothers from Tennessee! I talked a friend into driving up there and so Tuesday night there we were having dinner and drinks at a table near the stage! Joni Davies, and her band Jimmy Chickenpants put on a great show. I suggested that they apply for Vern's stage next year.

The Howling Brothers of Tennessee are so good. Three guys and a big sound with drive and lots of John Hartford songs and influences. Oh how the guitar player can dance…just like John Hartford!!! They played at The Freight and Salvage last night and are on tour. Go see them - just as tip - as my friend the SurfDawg would say.

My picking friends from Camp Howdy were there and wanted updates on Grass Valley. As I said earlier, I wish that I’d kept a journal on all the great moments, incredible things that had happened and the wonderful people there…these stars of Bluegrass!

Today I visited with Pete Hicks and he told me that The Central Valley Boys were treated very well at the Huck Finn Festival and that the SWBA worked very hard to have a good festival. They jammed with Special Consensus. Pete’s doing instrument repairs and teaching now that he’s retired from teaching. Teachers never really stop teaching you know…it’s in their blood!

Until next time, I’ll see you out there on Harmony Road!

Posted:  6/21/2013

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