Author: Varner, Mark

May comes in like a lion
Dear friends,

Starting to look a lot like bluegrass season. Coming up this weekend there are a couple of events that play into that perception. On May 3rd, all day there will be a civic event in the town of Windsor that has morphed into a one day bluegrass festival. Thanks to the town fathers and mothers for that! Ed Neff is playing with his band and they’ve gotten a couple of bluegrass bands featuring young people scheduled to perform. The Mighty Chiplings will be there on stage and so will OMG. You can find out more about this event at

I had the pleasure to join my fellow parents, Rodney Lee and Betsy Riger and Bob Schwartz for an OMG practice last Saturday. We’re geographically challenged, as are many CA bands, so we selected a park in the town of Fremont as our central location for practice. There we were on a beautiful day, sitting in lawn chairs, watching our kids practice. I couldn’t help but notice the looks we got from passersby. “All my kid wants to do is play video games. Look at these kids, spending their Saturday doing a concert for their parents” they must have thought. Sweet.

BUT! BUT! But, there’s a CBA event, also on May 3rd, I want to MOST encourage you to attend. Sac Area VP John Hettinger is hosting the fantastic Frank Ray and Cedar Hill. Missouri’s finest export is nothing short of the kind of music that gives one chills. They have their own sound and it’s the real deal. Please make this show and support this fine band and the CBA’s efforts to bring quality music to California. And give John a big pat on the back. This fella is full of positive energy and ove for bluegrass and old time music. You can get directions off the main page of the CBA site.

Last Welcome Column I did I forwarded to you info on the late Charlie Blacklock from my friend Morgan Cowan. He updated us on the memorial.

From Morgan:
I went to Charlie’s funeral & memorial service last Friday, and it was heartwarming and nice to see so many of Charlie’s family members and friends. Many people expressed their feelings of love and admiration for Charlie, and we heard some great (and funny!) stories from his life. You may have seen and heard Charlie play with a harmonica and his saw (he was GOOD!), but you may not have seen him play a miniature harmonica (about 1.25” or 3 cm long) - which he put in his mouth – out of sight. He would sometimes engage, delight and amaze some children (and adults – including me!) by talking to the audience and then would start playing his saw. But as started, he would use his tongue to move the saw into position behind his teeth, make a big smile, and play tunes with both his saw and the hidden harmonica at the same time!!! You could not see anything in his mouth, and everyone would wonder where the harmonica sound was coming from...!

Kenneth Blacklock, one of Charlie’s 3 sons (and Kenny’s Father), told us that a musical saw and a miniature harmonica were buried in the casket with Charlie – which I though appropriate, as music was a huge part of the Blacklock family, and Charlie in particular.

Art Peterson played his accordion, Kenny Blacklock on musical saw, Kenny’s wife Katy on fiddle, and myself using my new saw stand (more information coming later) on musical saw – played a medley of tunes that Charlie knew and loved at the funeral. It was an emotional, yet very nice event.

Afterwards most of us (about 50 total) went over to Charlie and Viola’s “Country Cabin” nearby for a more relaxing get-together. The Blacklock family had a feast ready for us, and we ate and talked and looked at many albums of photos and memorabilia from the lives of Charlie & Viola. What wonderful people they were!!!

We all knew that Charlie would have wanted the musicians to get together an play at his memorial, and about a dozen of us played together for 2-3 hours at the cabin.

Even though it was sad, and emotional at times, Charlie & Viola left a legacy of a large, wonderful family (MANY are musical too!), and successfully helped to carry the musical saw torch to the world – for many years. BOTH Charlie and Viola left the world a better place. It’s very sad to know they are gone... But they will live on in many people’s memories, including mine. Thank you Charlie!!!”

Posted:  4/28/2008

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