Author: Ramos, Jean

Six Degrees of Separation

Here we are with just one more week left in the month of May. That can only mean one thing to California Bluegrass folksÖThe Fatherís Day Festival is just around the bend; a week of pickiní and grinniní is within our reach! We get to see some folks we havenít seen since way last June and in my case, Iíll also get to see some folks I havenít seen since way last week.

Itís been seven years now since I ventured into the bluegrass loving world and what a difference those years have made! I find that, outside of my church family, nearly all of my dearest friends are people Iíve met through my musical adventures.

Living in the Sacramento River Delta region has worked out well for us because it puts us within a two to three hour drive of many musical ďhappenings.Ē We have been to jams, concerts, campouts, and pickiní parties all over the northern part of the state; along the coast, in the Mother Lode, in the shadow of Mt. Shasta and Mt. Lassen, and most recently, at Clear Lake. I have played so much music lately that my guitar callouses are making it a challenge to use the keyboard and there wonít be a break in the action anytime in the near future.

As I think back to my jamming skills when I started seven years ago, I realize how far Iíve come. I met Ron and Rosie Chavez at a festival down in the desert way back then. Ron got me off to a good start by first telling me to ditch the thin pick and gave me a thicker one (which I still have). He took the time to tell me about jamming etiquette and was very patient and encouraging as I ventured into the first few jams. I always look forward to seeing and jamming with the Ron and Rosie and Iím grateful for the help they gave me at the beginning.

Since joining the CBA, I have eased into playing and singing more bluegrass tunes. A few short years ago, there was no way I could have sat in on some of the jams Iíve been in this year, jams with many gifted musicians, professional and amateur. Iíve also tried my hand at playing a variety of instruments. I may not become accomplished at them all but itís given me a great deal of respect for those who have mastered them. One of the best things I did for myself was to take up the bass, it has improved both my guitar and vocal skills. The capo is a marvelous tool but has been detrimental in some ways, making me somewhat lazy about music theory. Since we canít use a capo on a bass, Iíve had to relearn several tunes. Iím hoping all this brain activity will prevent Alzheimerís. I can live with a hernia from lifting a bass but I pray I never have to deal with anything that keeps me from making music with my friends.

I recently got acquainted with a nice lady, Grace, who is about where I was a few short years ago, musically speaking. I took her to an event in Modesto a few months back; the Nu Blu and Sisterís Grim concert. She met several CBA people there and Geoff gave her a Music Camp flyer. She recently came to a jam that a bunch of us went to at Clear Lake. She got to meet and jam with many more of my friends and everyone was so kind and helpful to her, making her feel welcome; and thatís the way this works isnít it? Get her to fall in love with the people and sheíll come back for more. Grace has joined CBA, signed up for music camp and will be at Grass Valley all week and I know the CBA people will give her a warm welcome. Iíve seen many campaigns for increasing our membership but as I see it, the membership grows as a natural result of friendships that are forged and as folks are made to feel welcome and significant. I look forward to watching and being a part of Graceís assimilation into the CBA family and bluegrass world.

Another thing I look forward to at Grass Valley is meeting new people and making new friends. The circle is not only unbroken, it gets bigger all the time. Strangers are the friends we havenít yet met. Recently I was reading about the six degrees of separation theory, ďthat everyone and everything is six or fewer steps away, by introduction, from any other person in the world, so that a chain of ďa friend of a friendĒ statements can be made to connect any two people in a maximum of six steps.Ē (Thanks to Wikipedia). I experienced that phenomenon this week. My friend Tamie asked if I could sing at a memorial this Sunday. Tamie and the widow of the deceased (Marilyn) are woman I got acquainted with through the California Indian Basket Weavers Association. The husband had been a ďcowboyĒ and loved cowboy music as well as bluegrass. Marilyn told me her husbandís favorite group was Sidesaddle. I told her that my friend, Kim Elking is a member of that group. She told me that Kimís brother Jud, had been a good friend of her husband. I sent Kim a ďIsnít it a small worldĒ type message as her brother was sending her a message ďDo you know a Jeanie Ramos?Ē Well, to keep you from getting too confused, Iíll just say that Iíll be meeting Jud at the memorial and I see from his Facebook page that we too have several mutual friends; Tim Edes, Dave Nielsen, Sydney Evans, and Anne Whitehurst. I think that was less than six degrees, but whoís counting?

Okay, Iíll see many of you at Grass Valley. Letís pick! Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Iíve got some Cowboy music to brush up on.
Posted:  5/25/2014

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