Author: Sargent, Geoff

Top 10 Countdown from the Demented Dobro

It’s about that time of the year when folks do their top 10 lists of things done, things that should have been, and things intended. I usually shy away from lists….it’s just not my nature and I believe in the philosophy of “if I can’t keep it in mind, then it isn’t a high priority”. Fortunately or not, depending on how you look at it, my memory’s pretty good so not too much falls between the cracks…….my wife has a somewhat different take on my memory, but that’s a different story.

In many ways this has been an exceptional year, good and bad, so in spite of my list aversion I’m going to take a whack at my top 10 Bluegrass-associated items for 2009 and prognosticate on 2010. Now be forewarned, my classification of “bluegrass-associated” can be interpreted pretty broadly, so expect a bit of columnistic license to range and wander.

2009 Top 10 Events in a semi-chronological, random order:

1. Take The Stage. Of everything that I did musically this year, this was the kick to start the year…it was a good, swift, sharp one right in the seat and gave me a really good launch. Thanks to Hilary and Dave and the rest of TTS, I got to experience the blood, sweat, tears, and joy that goes into pulling bands together for a stage debut; I met the good friends that make up my current fledgling, but most excellent, bands to continue what we started in TTS; and in a way everything that falls out below was touched somehow by this experience.

2. Volunteering at CBA Camp and FDF 2009. In a year of exceptional events this is right at the top and I have to recommend volunteering at the CBA camps and festivals to everyone….it is hands down a gas. Oh sure there is chair schlepping, canopy construction, meal ticket punching, jam leading, and stage setup duties but I felt like I was a part of the camp and festival….not just attending. As a volunteer it felt like MY music camp and MY festival, which gave me a jolt of unexpected pride. The dirty little secret is that as a volunteer you get so much more out of the camp and festival…….it’s so rewarding they could make us pay to be volunteers and I’d still probably do it. And I swear the CBA must have contracted out the cloning of Ingrid to a competing laboratory because she was everywhere...I think next year I’ll give all the Ingrid clones different names.

3. Welcome Columns. I never expected my TTS blog would lead to my plush office in the basement of the CBA International Tower Headquarters where I have the privilege of gazing up at the giants that make up the BOD as they arrive in their chauffeured limousines….actually I’m exaggerating a bit here…some prefer to arrive in chauffeured golf carts. My desk is well heated since it is located by the building boiler and they only charge me a few dollars to post my Welcome columns……just please don’t let them know I bring in my dog. There is no telling the controversy that would cause.

4. Playing the Freight and Salvage in 5 different shows. To avoid being labeled as somewhat less than truthful, I should put this in perspective. I was in 2 bands during the winter 2009 TTS which counts as two shows at the old Freight, then one of my new bands played the new Freight at a TTS event in August, and then both my current bands played at a Freight open house event in November. Okay, so these weren’t paid professional music gigs and were only 20 minute sets, but all the same…jeez…..5 shows in less than a year at the Freight….is that cool or what…never in my wildest imagination.

5. Immortalized on the cover of a Mel Bay Parking Lot Picker Dobro Edition. This unexpected opportunity has launched my career as a high profile Mel Bay male model and I now have lucrative offers to pose for such chic, international publications as the Dumpster Quarterly, the Road Kill Gourmand, and the Antique Hubcap Collector.

6. Radio Show. The top 10 list gets better and better…..and yes my band “Old Tunnel Road” really played a live show on Peter Thompson’s Bluegrass Signal on KALW.

7. Recording Studio Time. One of my “Oyster Stew” band members teaches film and sound at a local college, which needed a band to record for some student “recording engineer” final exams. We, of course, reluctantly agreed to go in and play the role of difficult, petulant musicians….but the students just laughed at me when I asked for my bowl of blue M&Ms. However, it was a good introductory experience for studio work and we’ll get a short demo CD from it.....

8. Friends, Jams, and other musical projects. I have played more music this year than I thought humanly possible and had an excessive, sinful amount of fun. This would not have been possible without the multitudinous friends and jams I was graced with this year……from the TTS to McGrath’s to my current bands, private jams, Columnist jams, jams in the foothills, Father’s day jams, the Grass Valley Dobro Jam (at FDF)….I don’t have a clue how I did them all….and there were so many missed opportunities for other jams.

9. My understanding wife and tolerant (not) dog. My poor wife and neglected dog are the primary victims of my bluegrass crimes and absences. I owe them big time and have to figure out how to spend more time with them, while jamming.

10. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets winning the ACC Football Championship. Well Georgia Tech is in the south where bluegrass comes from, and I went to school there, so that qualifies it. THWG.

Those were only the top 10 for 2009. There was so much more that didn’t make the list that I suspect it will be difficult to surpass in 2010….but I’ll sure give it a try. Here are some hopeful predictions for ’10.

2010 Prognostications

1. Attend the 48-hour Jam. Need I explain this one….48 hours or so of non-stop, sleep deprived jamming. I haven’t made reservations yet because my wife has other potential plans (see number 9 above) but I might tempt fate anyway and show up with sleeping bag in hand, dobro on my back, a pot of boiled peanuts on my head and see what happens…..anyone looking for a roomie?

2. CBA Camp and Festival Volunteering. I had so much fun that I have to do it again……besides, last year we started a new tradition where one of the first year volunteers has to make the toast at the music camp wrap supper, and I need to be there to ensure the tradition is enforced…why should I be the only one to make annoying, embarrassing, inebriated toasts.

3. Gigs. I predict that 2010 is going to be the year of gigs for my bands. Granted maybe they will be baby step gigs, only moderately embarrassing gigs, almost certainly unpaid gigs, but gig we will, and there’s talk of busking too.

4. Columnisms. I will continue to lobby for a desk in the CBA International Towers that has a view of something other than insulation-covered pipes. And I will endeavor to ditch my stolid, academic style of writing and try to write more like Bruce and Rick and Cliff…you know, throw caution to the wind, walk where angels fear, bare my soul, shave my legs, and pull a few face plants.

5. Tour de Jam. This is an ongoing project…..I still have one or two unvisited jams in the city to attend and then I start my forays out into the hinterlands and down the peninsula. You never know when or where I’ll show up. Be wary, be very wary…..I’ve got your jam in my headlights and my foot on the gas.

6. Attend at least one new festival. I don’t know yet which new festival I’ll hit but I’ve been meaning to go to GOF and Plymouth for awhile now….guess I’ll have to make good on it this year.

7. Try at least one of JD’s recipes. Nuff said. JD any recommendations? How about one of your dutch oven recipes.

8. Columnist Jam 2010. The 2009 Columnist jam set the camp on fire so I guess we ought to do it again. At the FDF 2009 jam we had a good showing of columnists, but it was conspicuously incomplete attendance. So Columnists, this year get the Columnist Jam 2010 on your calendars, in your iPhone, or on your crackberry. I’m guessing that F
Posted:  12/20/2009

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