Author: Varner, Mark

Candidates, camps, comedians and cool
Dear friends,

This is a busy time of year around here at Breakdown Towers. We no sooner got the June issue of the CBAís monthly paper done when we had to begin on the July issue. I plan on being in the Elysian Fields of the Nevada County Fairgrounds on the Saturday before the Fatherís Day Festival to start setting up for CBA Music Camp and have to have the paper completed before I go. Itíll be a short issue in July.

I wonít make you wait till July to hear about a couple of items that are featured on page one of the upcoming issue. First off, we need candidates for the CBAís board of directors to start working on the process to proclaim their intention to run for the highest bluegrass office in the Golden State. Candidates will need to circulate a petition of candidacy and have it signed by at least fifteen current CBA members. Completed petitions should be sent to our Membership Vice President, Carolyn Faubel at P.O. Box 5037, Marysville, CA 95901-8501. She must receive your petition by August 5, 2009. Candidates also must prepare a statement to enlighten voters as to your background and intentions for the association, etc. These must be accompanied by a photograph of the candidate and sent by August 5, 2009. They may be emailed to or snail mailed to Mark Varner, PO Box 1245, Boulder Creek, CA, 95006.

It is important for the vitality and longevity of the CBA to have new prospectives from our membership. Letís not have an all incumbent election this year!

Also announced in the July issue is the somewhat timely news, with Music Camp coming up next week. There are unfortunately quite a number of individuals who did not get into the 2009 CBA Music Camp. I got word from Ingrid Noyes, Camp poohbah (poohbette?), that there will be a Winter season Music Camp in February to be held near Petaluma, February 15-18. More detail will follow, but this is great news. If you havenít been to our Music Camp you have really been missing out. It is a blast!

We all know that funny man Steve Martin is a banjoist and bluegrass lover. Hereís another comedian who picks the five. I was listening to the radio this weekend and heard an interview with actor/comedian Ed Helms. I first saw him on the Daily Show and now heís on The Office. He was talking about his love of playing banjo. In part of the interview they asked him what he and the other actors were doing on The Office TV show when they wanted to appear to be ďworking.Ē He said he visited banjo blogs and bluegrass websites. Ha! So, Ed, if youíre googling yourself and find this site, hi!

Ed was raised in Atlanta, GA. Hereís an couple of questions the Atlanta Journal-Constitution asked him.

Q: Is it hard to play the banjo?

A: The banjo is a (pain). Thatís part of why itís so rewarding. You work really hard. When I saw Tom Key in ĎCotton Patch Gospel,í I was already into bluegrass. Itís a really extraordinary production. My high school did a production. No one could play the banjo, so I picked it up, learned the songs and that was the beginning of my long, torrid love affair with the banjo.

Q: Most guys play the guitar in high school to pick up girls. Howíd the banjo work for you?

A: I just completely misread girls in high school. This is just one example of how. Iíve been trying to press X-box to make ďBanjo Hero.Ē


Iíve been listening to the latest from David Davis & the Warrior River Boys: Two Dimes and a Nickel while Iíve been writing this. My very brief review: awesome. If you like VERY traditional bluegrass with a brother duet focus, this is a must own. I especially like those low harmonies on pieces like the Train That Carried My Girl From Town and Jim Eaneís Broken Promise. Another high point is Alan Johnstonís slow song, Thatís When I Cried. Spooky stuff! Itís out on Rebel Records.

Your pal,
Mark Varner
Posted:  6/7/2009

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