Author: Varner, Marty

My last Grass Valley for years

Well, yesterday was the last day, folks. I took the last of my finals and now I am officially done with high school. It is peculiar to say, and I am still not completely sure Iím telling the truth, but I think so. This moment, of course, is both the most relieving and the most stressful thought provoking moment for me. On one hand, I am so relieved to finally be done with all of the mandatory classes, some of which I believe I did quite well in. But on the other hand, I do not know how I plan to grow up so much in the next two and a half months before I am shipped across the country to a place with 2 degree winter weather. I am attending school at Clark University in Worcester, MA. It is a prestigious school and I am lucky to have been accepted. But of course, it is very expensive and I have a lot of work to do to put together my tuition and prepare to live by myself for the first time in a dorm room 3,000 miles away.

I imagine myself two and a half months from now, arriving at college, with a suitcase of clothes, my guitar and mandolin; ready to pick, maybe get a band together. No matter what happens I am bringing California Bluegrass to the Bay State whether they like it or not. But I know there is lots of good bluegrass as well as talented young musicians out there. So I think my dream of getting a band together ought to be pretty realistic.

And donít worry, you will still be hearing from me in my monthly Welcome Column. I will bring you lots of stories and keep you posted on how I am doing.

To help my move to the East Coast, the transition to living alone, and paying my way once college has started, I will be creating a Kick Starter next week. Here I will be discussing my future goals. My plan is to become an attorney, and my goal as an attorney is to fight anything that might stand in between our bluegrass community and being free to have jams and play in coffee houses, which BMI and ASCAP with their bully-like behavior, have sought to eliminate. I definitely see myself going into some type of law related to the arts because I always plan on being a bluegrass picker. That way I will be able to both have my own thriving career, and help bluegrass music and music as a whole, which is of course my other true passion. My goal is to repay to our community many times over what I raise in my Kick Starter.

It only seems like yesterday when I was so young that my parents needed to literally beg me to put on pants at Grass Valley at night because they could see the mosquitoes biting my legs. The very first time I came to Grass Valley my parents locked me in our van and the CBA security folks had to get me out. Then there was the time, I was about 3, when I got stung by a wasp, or when I fell off the concrete picnic tables up on Quaker Hill. These examples (and many more that I believe that many of you can remember) show why I should be concerned for what is to come when I am out on my own. But I know it will be alright. I see myself as resourceful, resilient, and a bunch of other ďrĒ words that I am certain will help me in these upcoming four years of growth and study.

After long deliberations with my family, we have decided that arriving at Grass Valley on Thursday would be the only way to go. That means skipping my graduation ceremony. Even though my graduation is on Thursday, I canít stress enough that I learned more in my eighteen years running around that fairgrounds with you guys, and talking to hundreds of people, than I did at my desk or in a textbook in high school. And I am sure that I will miss all of my bluegrass friends a lot more than my friends from high school in these next four years of East Coast living.

Iím excited about the festival. This year, the bands are spectacular as always. With a great mix of contemporary and traditional bluegrass, each audience member is in for a treat no matter what band they see. But of course, I have my own bands I look forward to seeing more than others. The first and most predictable is of course The Deadly Gentlemen. Even though I honestly do not like their new album as much as their two previous, I am still definitely looking forward to their performance. Last time they were here they put on a better show than even I expected and the audience reaction was shockingly positive for such a peculiar form of bluegrass. Of course, their third and brand new album has very minimal rapping so DO NOT BE AFRAID.

And I canít contain my excitement that after way too long of a hiatus Lonesome River Band is back on the Grass Valley Stage. This hard driving band is one of the most prestigious touring bands, as well as the strongest vocally. With Sammy driviní on the banjo and killer vocals by Brandon Rickman, nothing can go wrong.

After seeing them a few years ago at IBMA, I canít help but be excited for how Town Mountain is going to perform as well. This is by far one of the most underrated bands in bluegrass and honestly I think they should be surprised that they are the ďemergingĒ artist because they have been ďemergingĒ back east for at least the past five years. This band has everything, including energy and killer song writing and missing them because the name doesn't stand out would be the biggest mistake for any bluegrass fan, whether you like Greg Liszt or Sammy Shelor.
Posted:  6/7/2014

Copyright © 2002 California Bluegrass Association. All rights reserved.
Comments? Questions? Please email