Author: Varner, Mark

Fall Campout
Dear friends,

Monday morning. Hard to get back into the swing of the work-a-day world after such a fun weekend. The CBA’s Fall Campout and yearly Members Meeting at the Stockton-Delta KOA was, in my humble opinion, the best campout I have been to.

The weather was windy at times, but sunny and pleasant otherwise. Naturally the evenings are beginning to reflect the ugly reality that the warm days and nights of 2008 are history. The location was great and I heard many folks raving about the comparison between camping at a “resort” compared to camping at the usual fairground venues. The location was quite spacious and folks spread out comfortably. There was plenty of shade. There was a very nice playground for the kiddies and a swimming pool that I did not see utilized. The KOA has a store and a restaurant. Each time I went into either it was full of bluegrass folks, so the KOA should be putting some love on us. I confess I did get a little jealous of the boating folks, since this KOA is also a marina, but we had our own “fish to fry” down in the jamming circles and campsites. I will say that one of our dear friends was very under whelmed with the ladies showers, but otherwise the facilities were fine.

Let’s just say this right up front. Bob Thomas is to be congratulated for securing the excellent new location. Bob Schwartz ran the show otherwise and did a job that deserves effulgent praise for his hard work and the quality of the event he coordinated. When I say it was my favorite campout to date he’s 90% of the reason.

Things officially got started on Friday night with Chef Mike’s spaghetti feed. As usual it was a popular feature and we all lined up for vittles and gratefully acknowledged them what feeds us. While folks ate we visited the theme of the Fall Campout, which was “family”. Music was provided by some young people who delighted the crowd with all the good stuff we grassers have taught them, lucky kids. OMGG, with AJ Lee, the Schwartz Bros, Nate and Max, Marty and Veronica Varner and young Timmy the fiddler, did a couple sets of music. Chris Smith accompanied the twins, Calvin and Trevor on some fine tunes and the audience replied to these talented singers with wild applause and an encore. We had a young fiddler play for us – sorry, I didn’t get her name but her family is new to the CBA and they are fine folks. In fact there was, per the theme, a feeling of new families joining our group and encouraging their children to join with ours in assuring this music is not only passed along, but is vital and fun.

Saturday morning we had kids activities with the very delightful Cathleen Rushing. Bob Schwartz and I had to go to the playground to round up the kinder, but once we got ‘em over to Kathleen she worked her magic on them and they had crazy fun. Kathleen knows that you don’t perform for children; you perform with them. We are indeed lucky to have her working with children at the CBA Music Camp in June.

Betsy Riger led a Bluegrass 101 class after the children were fully entertained. We kind of expected this to be another “kid activity”, but you don’t have to be a youngster to benefit from musical guidance from more veteran pickers and we had adults and children present. Lisa Burns, Gail Reese and Dave Gooding came along to offer advice and to create a mini jam situation for novice jammers. All of us warmed to the task of showing folks a bit of jam etiquette. It turned into a nice little jam!

Saturday evening was the dessert potluck and CBA membership meeting. Election results were announced and the current board incumbents were handed back the torch. I have to say, without politeness or exaggeration, this is an excellent board. When JD Rhynes reminds us what the CBA is all about, we listen. When Deb Livermore brings new ideas to the table, we listen to her too, after having a good laugh. SORRY, Deb. I kid because I love.

The drawing for those fine CBA raffle instruments was held and I noticed a couple of familiar names in the winner’s circle: good ol’ Slim from the message board who won that fabulous Martin guitar and Patrice Webb, who is wondering about being an upright bass player this morning. One five one five, dear.

After that we were free, free I tell ya! You know, I hear from folks who, like me, do not like band scrambles at the campouts. For one thing it breaks up socializing and jamming because everyone has formed a “band” they must practice with. For another we have to sit through the performances when we could simply be jamming with these same folks ourselves. This campout was geared toward families and we presented activities mainly related to our wonderful kids. Giving THEM something to do is great, but the grownups should be free range, in my opinion. I think this lack of band scramble contributed to my appreciation of this campout. Your mileage may vary.

Sunday was without a doubt the most glacially slow CBA board meeting I’ve ever been forced to attend. (Well, I was not forced to attend – the Bluegrass Breakdown editor was obligated to attend and if I want that person to continue to be me…well.) At least Mark Hogan and Bruno Brandli were sitting handy by to entertain me. I shall leave it to the new Chairman (same as the old Chairman) Rick Cornish to elaborate on the goings on of this august body in his next Welcome Message. Congrats to my hero Darby for being unanimously voted President of the CBA.

Your pal,
Mark Varner
Posted:  10/13/2008

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