Author: Varner, Mark

Life After Plymouth
Dear friends,

Ouch! It's Fall. Sigh...

Hail to thee, bluegrass fans. Many of us are crawling unwillingly back into the lives we live to live the life we love. We work a hundreds days to get four days of the joyous and worthy blessing of the music and fellowship of a bluegrass festival. So passed the weekend for many of us, attending Bluegrassiní in the Foothills in Plymouth. Right up there with the CBAís Fatherís Day Festival, the Plymouth event is a true favorite of many CA bluegrass fans. Small wonder, when one considers the talent, the lovely setting at the Amador Country Fairgrounds and the hosts, who seem to have been given super powers at making folks feel welcome and comfortable. Larry and Sondra Baker did it again last weekend and there are quite a few folks walking about, trying to get back into their work-a-day worlds with large smiles and their faces after the fun of the festival.

I just love Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper and they certainly reminded us why. As always the performance was transformative for the audience exposed to the electric power of this master musician. Other acts featured were wonderful, but Michael can play like no one else. It was the first time weíve seen them since the recently released, and very excellent new Flamekeeper album. Jesse Brock on mando? Ohhhhhh, yeah! He just gets better and better. I really like Todd Rakestraw on vocals. I had no idea he wrote Gentle River. I remember a time when every aspiring female bluegrass singer forced her bandmates to learn that song.

We Varners were very proud and excited to have our son Marty invited to play with Flamekeeper for a tune in their Saturday afternoon set. Itís a feature that Larry Baker and George Best have made part of the Plymouth festival. A young musician is brought on stage to play with the pros. Last year it was Paige Anderson. This time they asked Marty which band would be his favorite to perform with and there was no hesitation whatsoever: Michael Cleveland! Marty got to play the showpiece Monroe tune Old Dangerfield on guitar and really fit in with the band for this hot number. The audience was a supportive as they could be and Marty was on cloud nine.

OK, Iím not going to do a festival review this morning. Iíve gotta get back to the work that I ditched on Thursday and Friday to have a very, very good time. Be assured that Bluegrassiní in the Foothills was a blast and every count. As usual!

Let it be known that we ainít done yet! The CBAís new baby, the Hobbs Grove Bluegrass Festival is coming up September 26-28. Itís an easy drive and a pleasant spot. The talent is top notch. Donít miss this one cause the season is just about over. Get more info at

Your pal,
Mark Varner
Posted:  9/22/2008

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