Author: Ramos, Jean

And the beat goes on

Another Fall Camp-Out has come and gone. Not wanting to miss out on one bit of fun, we went to Lodi on Monday and stayed until Sunday. I like the new location, and the weather could not have been better. Several of our friends also arrived on Monday so we circled up the RV’s and created a covered jamming area in the middle with lighting and seating for pickers and listeners. Our tent area rivaled the circus tent that went up in an adjacent field. I dare say, there was probably as much clowning around too.

Last night, I spent some time looking at old Camp-Out photos in the CBA Website Gallery; photos that dated back five years. It made me aware of just how many good friends I have made since I attended my first Camp-out back in 2008. I had no idea at the time that this Bluegrass Family would become such a big part of my life.

I have also come to realize just how much my guitar playing and vocals have improved in these past few years. At first I felt intimidated in most of the traditional bluegrass jams as the songs were unfamiliar to me. I tended to hang back and spend most of my time playing with the “country” musicians. As time went on, as I attended more events and bought and listened to more bluegrass CDs, I became more familiar with the tunes. Learning to use a capo also opened up a whole new world to me. I have found that the other musicians are happy and even eager to share their knowledge with the less experienced pickers. After all, that is the goal of CBA, to perpetuate this music that we all love.

In the last few years, I’ve also begun learning to play the mandolin and fiddle. I thank God for a very indulgent and supportive husband who is willing to support my musical “habit.” He also has come to love the bluegrass “family.” Most recently, as I mentioned before, I have added the upright bass to the instruments I want to play. At this recent camp-out, I was able to play it in several jams. There were a few songs that I struggled with, but then I was jamming in the “big tent” which was a pretty eclectic mix of musical genres. It was good experience, and overall, I felt pretty confident with my playing. My bass playing friends, Kristen Willis and Lou McClenahan both gave me a “thumbs up,” which was very encouraging. Lou told me that my timing was “right on,” not lagging behind or speeding up. He took the time to show me a few other things to work on in the coming weeks and months.

As I do at most CBA events, I made many new acquaintances at the recent camp-out. Many people cycled through our jams and many came back for more. It was great having George and Pat Calhoun back with us. I was also happy that Doc Ellis came and camped with us. He said it’s really hard coming to these events without his wife Naomi who passed away this summer but she encouraged him to carry on. I love the way our bluegrass family surrounded him with love and support.

There seems to be no shortage of opportunities to jam. I’ve received several invitations lately; true, I often have to travel a ways but it’s worth it. Tomorrow is Jon and Martha Bluemel’s Pick-O-Ween III. (I’m writing this on Friday). It seems like my fingers don’t have time to recover in between jams lately.

Once again, I want to express my gratitude to Vaughn and Glenda Lew and their team of volunteers for all the effort they put forth to make the Fall Camp-Out a fun event for us. I also want to give a shout out to their delightful daughter, Melissa, who spreads a ray of sunshine and pixie dust where ever she goes.

Hope to see you all at a picking party soon. Make plans to attend the Great 48, it will be memorable.
Posted:  10/27/2013

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