Author: Cornish, Rick

Hello, this is the California Bluegrass Association. How may I help you?

Good morning from Whiskey Creek where five turkey vultures lazily soar in a figure 8 pattern over our little slice of heaven here in the gold country. Known for their ability to sense from miles and miles away the smell of death and decay and abject failure, the scavengers showed up in our airspace just hours after I returned from the emergency room at Sonora Regional Hospital with a separated shoulder three days ago. They could smell even then the rank odor of approaching collapse and catastrophe.

Five different projects, scattered over our six acres and in varying stages of completion, all destined now to remain forever uncompleted and cast aside like carrion along side the road. Five dreams never to be realized--the greenhouse two thirds completed…the two new vegetable garden terraces, also nearly completed but languishing now due to inattention…the new cabinet for my computer room sanded and ready the staining that will likely never happen…the livestock fence extension in the pasture that, had it continued on schedule, would've allowed the five Cornish llamas to roam deep into our lush oak forest gorging on the poison oak I’d planned to have gone by the time our grandchildren came to visit later in the spring…the stone fish pond, its irregular footprint carefully mapped out in baseball diamond chalk but with not a single shovel-full of dirt turned over.

All carefully planned enterprises, symbols of a better, brighter future, now put aside, probably forever, while I go through months and months of medical procedures, physical therapy and solitary, suffocating inactivity. And how did this happen? How did my world suddenly crumble underneath my feet? Simple… I was carrying a heavy object, (a speaker cabinet), I stumbled forward down an incline, almost regained my balance, picked up speed as I stumbled further, and when I realized it was futile I tucked my arms, lowered my head and tumbled to the ground, letting my right shoulder take the full impact of the fall. The result, a Grade Three shoulder separation. (Is that bad, you ask? Well, there are only three grades.)

But hey, that's water under the bridge. Let's look on the bright side—it’s springtime, we’re getting a little rain as opposed to none, it’s looking more and more like the Mold Man will remain in Lithuania on a…um…little vacation, bluegrass season 2014 has officially hatched, and for me personally I’m receiving more and more telephone calls about our festival and the two music camps coming up in June. When I retired from the Board of Directors I accepted an appointment as operations director of the Association, a fancier title than my actual responsibilities but nonetheless it gives me a chance to continue giving back a tiny fraction of what I’ve received from the CBA since 1977. Oddly, the job I enjoy most is taking the calls each spring. All of the publicity the Association produces for festival week carries my name and telephone number and it's just about this time each year that the phone begins to ring off the hook

Those who know me know that I'm not particularly fond of talking on the telephone… In fact, the truth is, I hate it. But for some reason I get a big kick out of taking calls from people who have questions about our festival and all the collateral activities that comprise Festival Week. Generally I can answer most anything that people ask and in the instances in which I can't I promise to get back to them after I’ve done my research. My most enjoyable callers are folks who’ve never been to the grass Valley Festival, are feeling a little nervous about walking into uncharted territory, and just want a better understanding of the event and a little hand holding reassurance that their decision to drive up to the mountains was a smart one. And boy can I give it to them. This will be my 38th Father's Day festival, and I feel like I know every square inch of ground, every pine tree, every utility shed, and every nuk and cranny where the best jams take place.

One fellow called from Calgary wanting to confirm that we have, in fact, changed our pet policy. “The wife and I would hate to drive all the way out there just to find out little Brownie couldn't come through the gates and have to turn around and drive home to Canada." I assured him brownie would more than welcome. A woman who lives in Los Gatos called to say that she’d be coming to the festival for the first time with her father. “Dad,” she said, “has been going to your festival for 25 years. He's finally at the age, though, where he’s a little nervous about driving up by himself so we’re going to attend together. What should I expect?” And there are the off-the-wall inquiries as well. It seems each year someone has a question about our little pond, Lyons Lake, adjacent to the electric only area at the Nevada County Fairgrounds. This year a guy wanted to know if boaters would be allowed to pull multiple water skiers on the lake. Another asked if California made available temporary, weeklong hunting licenses…”I've read that out there in the Sierras ya got plenty of black bears and brown bears. By golly, I’d sure like to shoot me one."

It's funny, but I find that quite a few of the people who call sound a little sheepish when I answer and will frequently apologize for calling. (“I know how busy you must be and hate to trouble you.”) By the time we finish our telephone conversation, though, there is little question that rather than being annoyed by their call I’m pleased to talk to them; some even sense in me a bit of pride in our annual classic held under the tall pines.

Judging from the calls we've already gotten since tickets went on sale I'm going to go out on a limb and say there’ll be greater numbers of out-of-state visitors this year than we've seen in the past, and that makes me very happy. Actually, I believe we all have the right to take pride in the organization we've built over nearly 4 decades. Getting to tell people about it…strangers…is just icing on the cake.

Have a good weekend, listen to some bluegrass or old-time music, and for God's sake, try not to fall down. Wish somebody had given me that advice early Tuesday morning. Oh, I guess while I have you on the line I should warn you that it’s unlikely I’ll be able to keep up the regular flow of new content at while I’m recuperating and doing physical therapy.

Posted:  3/28/2014

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