Author: Judd, Brooks

Ten Items or Fewer

Item 1: It is Friday night at the Westside Theater in Newman and I am ready to lumber up the well-worn stairs of the stage to do my bit as the MC.I have been asked by philosopher professor/songwriter/singer/guitarist/jazz and blues buff, Jason Winfree, to host tonight’s gala featuring Red Dog Ash and Stockton’s own Snap Jackson and the Knock on Wood Players.

I usually get out to a bluegrass event once every 5 years or so and the last time was at Hobbs Grove Bluegrass Festival in Fresno about four years ago. At that Friday night event Red Dog Ash along with Snap Jackson and the Knock on Wood Players were performing. The Elvis Costello look alike and CBA dynamo, Mr. Marcos Alvira, approached me and asked if I would be willing to MC. Apparently the five folks he had asked earlier politely declined. The last one declined because her parents had to nurse her and have her in bed by eight o’clock.

I explained to Mr. Alvira that even though I have the smooth southern charm of a Rhett Butler and the looks of a Portuguese Robert Redford, underneath all the glam and glitter I probably wasn’t a good choice to introduce the bands. I have a habit of getting tongue tied and I end up spewing Archie Bunker Spoonerisms. Mr. Alvira was kind, patted me gently on the shoulder and said, “Don’t worry about it Brooks, you will do fine.” It wasn’t until much later I found out that he and Mr. Cornish had wagered a hefty bet with each other that I would mess up the introduction. I introduced Snap Jackson as Jack Snapson and his Wooden Knock Band.” Rick won the bet.

It was my first time here and I wasn’t going to let that happen. The theater is beautiful and the bands are primed and ready to play. Not only is the setting and sound perfect, but they also serve up various types of snacks, various soft drinks, and a full bar is featured hosted by a smiling bartender waiting and willing to pour your favorite bluegrass drink. The bar even stayed open after the performances so band members and friends could jam until the wee hours of Saturday morning. Snap Jackson and The Knock on Wood Players are a treat to watch. On lead guitar is the wonderful Eric Antrim, who considers the great Doc Watson and Jerry Garcia as inspiration. Shane Kalbach does a fine job handling the fiddle chores. He lists the one and only Megan Lynch, daughter of Maria Nadauld (Above the Bay Booking) sister of b. judd, as one of his inspirations. The multi-talented Brian Clark on bass has a right hand that slides up and down the neck of his well-worn bass like an over amped piston on a souped-up Maserati. Brian leans over his bass like a man possessed and comes up for air only to take a well-earned breath. What a joy to watch! He lists Thelonious Monk and Mr. J.S. Bach as influences. Mr. Snap Jackson is the consummate entertainer and has a stage presence that belies his youth. Snap lists the great John Hartford and the aforementioned Jerome Garcia as an influence. In honor of John Hartford Snap and the Boys did a wonderful rendition of “Aeroplane” by John Hartford. This song is dear to me because my dear band mate in the Fog Valley Drifters, Rachel Bennett, sang this song and did a wonderful version of it. Snap put his own personal touches on the song that brought a small tear to my eye. His rendition was charming and heartfelt.

I can’t say enough about Red Dog Ash. They are putting on this series of concerts at the Newman Theater bringing top name bluegrass acts to the area. When they perform they are as tight as a snare drum in Savannah in September. There is not a weak song in their set list (all self-written) and they have the toes of the audience tapping time to the beat. We are proud to have them here performing. We get to see them again in March, April, and May at the Newman Theater.

Item 2: The show was a success. I think it would have been exhilarating to have a crowd that included some folks who were under the AARP age guidelines. Bluegrass is such an energetic lively experience I do not for a minute understand the absence of younger folks attending the concerts. Please don’t get me wrong. I am one of the AARP folks and would love to share the room with someone who isn’t on Medicare. Here’s an idea for you under 65 folks. Come on out to one of the shows in March, April or May at the Newman Theater. Maybe you youngsters can learn something from us old geezers and maybe we could pick up a trick or two from you.

Item 3: My sister, Maria, and talented fiddle star daughter Megan just came back from a week long mini tour in Canada that Maria had spent countless hours piecing together like a 1000 piece jig saw puzzle. This was a solo venture for Megan and Maria tells me the trip was a success. Congratulations to Megan and Maria.

Item 4: I have joked in the past how my sister spends about 90% of her time either flying somewhere, flying back from somewhere, or visiting folks or doing things in places other than her hometown of Hayward. I have been privy to information that Maria flies Southwest Airlines so frequently that the local offices in Oakland send a private Southwest Airlines owned car and driver to not only to pick her up and take her to the airport but they also arrange for the same preferential treatment on the other end.

Item 5: Sheila and I saw Bill Medley of the Righteous Brothers Friday night at the Gallo Theater in Modesto and we certainly enjoyed ourselves. Bill was limping around the stage with a bad case of foot tendonitis, but that didn’t stop him from belting out song after song with his deep rich voice while bringing laughter to his fans with his bag of sweet jokes and stories. The sold out house spent the entire two hour show listening, laughing and applauding. This is the type of show that makes me appreciate the Gallo Theater.

Item 6: Someday down the road a blue grass band will appear at the Gallo to a sold out house of adoring fans and a relationship will be forged. The Gallo will have one or two well attended bluegrass events yearly. Wouldn’t that be great?

Item 7: Off to the eye doctor to schedule my cataract surgeries.

Until April,- read a book, hug a child, pet a dog, stroke a cat, eat a bar of chocolate, and take a long walk, you deserve it!

Posted:  3/7/2014

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