Author: Karsemeyer, John

The 48, Isn’t It Great!

Today’s “Welcome Column” is dedicated to the “Great 48.” This is the California Bluegrass Association’s (CBA) smaller version of “inside grass” venues like the Wintergrass Festival up in Washington State, or the IBMA gathering last year in North Carolina; all within suspecting hotels whose rooms and hallways have soaked up the ancient sounds of Bill Monroe’s creation over the years. The Great 48 doesn’t have as many people in attendance or as many bands as the aforementioned bigger venues, but the Great “48ers” have just as much fun.

This venue is happening today (Saturday) as part of a four day (January 9th through 12th)) Giant Bluegrass Jam Session, with some live band performances thrown in to add a little bluegrass spice to the musical recipe. Okay, so if it’s a four day event that equals 96 hours, why call it the “48” which would indicate a two day affair? If memory serves me in the best possible way, this bluegrass jamboree was created to be two days and then evolved into a good natured beast that now has a four day life of its own. Thinking outside of the box a little, if a person can jam 12 hours a day for four days that equals 48 hours; maybe that’s it?

Right now folks are getting-it-on musically at the Double Tree Hotel in the city where Buck Owens and Merle Haggard branded country music in their own way; Bakersfield, California. The Great 48 is a place where folks who are like-minded regarding bluegrass music gather together like a flock of migrating birds that set down from their winged journey in a place to eat, drink, and ingest large doses of recreation, so as to pave the way to a more enriched life down future’s highways.

Probability is high that regular readers of the CBA’s Welcome Columns are playing live bluegrass music right now at the Great 48, and not paying attention to this column, so I’ll keep it short. If you’re not aware of the specifics of the Great 48 and want to get there (yes there is still time), you can go to the CBA’s website for all the information that’s fit to print, and then head out to this event. The bluegrass poet visited me last night, and left me with these words.


The Great 48
In the great Golden State
Is alive right now
So don’t be late
Fiddles and banjos
And guitars galore
If you’re still at home
Quick, get out the door!
Highway 99
Or highway 5 will do
To get you to the Doubletree
Where the grass turns to blue.
Where Buck Owens’s spirit
Still lives on,
Down at the Crystal Palace
In each and every song.
Strawberry fields
They just won’t do
But it’s the bakers in the field
That draws me and you
It’s the start of a New Year
The start of a new song
Beginnings of a new bluegrass
Always right, and never wrong.
Posted:  1/24/2014

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