Author: Varner, Mark

I love bats

Dear Friends,

The Fatherís Day Festival was just a bunch of fun! So good, in fact, that we skipped my son Martyís high school graduation ceremony to get up there on Thursday. Of course these days everyone is in immediate and direct contact with everyone else, what with the smart phones Ė so he heard about how hot and boring the ceremony was from his friends who did attend. So he was pretty happy about the choice. So was I. Of course my daughter Veronica would never miss the festival and she brought a friend; thusly adding to the many, many young people at our festival.

The association is so proud of the direction the FDF is going. We packed the tent camping area with the usual suspects and a lot of new faces. Young people and young families and babies everywhere! The future of bluegrass is being passed along by the folks who have in the past and are working now to make sure itís the bestest bluegrass and old time party on the westest coast.

I was pleased with the band selection. I thought Rowan was BETTER THAN I HAVE EVER SEEN HIM. It was like going back to the glory days of the 1st generation. His band brought a vitality that he has been needing to really showcase what an important person Rowan has been over his many years in the biz. Blaine really rocked it and so did the rest of the excellent band.

In fact, there was just some good, gritty grass on stage: Junior Sisk! Town Mountain! A tribute to our beloved Vern & Ray starring players who ARE California bluegrass; bands like Bean Creek who carry the torch of real deal bluegrass and how about the Central Valley Boys on the Vernís stage? Wonderful! Old time music from Foghorn? Devine! Anyone who is worried about what kind of festival this is, was and will be should relax and enjoy the ride.

Kids on Bluegrass was fantastic, of course, and it was nice to have our great friend Sharon Elliot back with Frankís crew. Young people, even from out of state are now flocking to our festival to be part of Solivanís creation.
Please donít fault me for not mentioning each act! There was so much talent between the main stage and the Vernís stage. And variety! Finally got a chance to see Steep Ravine, who has been making waves in the Bay Area. They were decidedly NOT traditional, but they are the kind of band anyone can enjoy. It was my first time seeing Angelica Grimís band, The Sisters Grim, too and that was a blast, of course.

We had fun camping in a new area for us. Weíre usually there the Saturday before and set up camp near the maintenance building, but this time wound up on the far side of the water ditch on the far side of the entry road; next to Joe Weed and many other friends, old and new.
Gosh, Iíve been doing this festival for so many years now that Iíve got memory upon memory. Some of my favorite times are when you take that long evening stroll all around the camping areas. Makes me think of long-ago bandmates and friends, many gone now, and quiet conversations and burning to find a killer jam out in the wild blue yonder. This time my ďstrollĒ was at dusk one night when I was feeling mellow and happy being on my own and decided I would go out to the big parking lot and watch the bats. I love the bats. So I was lying on my back, alone, on the still warm asphalt, looking up at the sky and a young man zoomed by on a bike; then zoomed back the other way. The next time he came slowly, with another young man walking by his side. It was getting dark, so did I know them? I donít know. But they invited me to come up to their campsite on Quaker Hill. They told me I looked lonely. I thought that was so sweet. I told them I was right where I wanted to be and thanks for being kind. Of all the excitement and great music I think that was a moment I will remember. We are family.

Your pal,
Mark Varner
Posted:  7/7/2014

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