Author: Daniel, Bert

Too Many Books!

I did it again. Despite the fact that I already have scores of bluegrass tune books lying around all over the house, I succumbed to yet another book sale appeal from Now Iím the proud owner a few more books of great music that I can barely play. Itís past the point of being ridiculously out of control. I have what amounts to a personal bluegrass library now. Pretty soon I might have to hire a librarian to keep me organized. Not that my specialized collection would span very much of the Dewey Decimal System calalogue. Just to amuse myself yesterday I asked myself the question ďHow many is too many?Ē So I went around the house and tried to count all of my bluegrass books. Iím sure I missed a few stashed in odd locations but I counted forty five books among those I was able to find. And that doesnít even include the fiddle books I bought for my son.
Iím embarrassed to tell you all this. Iíve only been collecting these books for five years or so. That works out to an average of about one new book every month. Talk about the Book of the Month Club, yours truly is single handedly keeping Mel Bay in business. When Steve Kaufman publishes his four thousandth book, Iíll probably buy the first copy. I need therapy. It would be one thing if I could afford all this self indulgence, but the thrill of anticipation as I await the arrival of my latest treasure is just too Pavlovian for me to feel like I have the slightest control of my actions. I just keep buying and buying.
Despite this dire situation, I have to admit that good new bluegrass books are coming out all the time (trust me, I know). Take, for example, Dix Bruceís Parking Lot Pickerís Songbook. This is the best bluegrass singalong book Iíve seen. Thatís my personal opinion as an individual who pluked down his own hard earned money. I donít have any vested interests. I like just about everything about Dixís book. From the spiral binding to the extensive selection of great singable tunes to the comanion CD with just enough music for you to get the idea of how each tune goes, if you didnít know already. Maybe coolest of all is the photos of ordinary and extraordinary parking lot pickers from, of all places, our own Grass Valley Bluegrass Festival! And speaking of intersting bluegrass photos, I didnít fail to notice that the promotional image for this yearís Grass Valley Festival (an old woman clogging away to a dance band) is the same photo that graces the cover of my previous favorite songbook, Bert Caseyís Bluegrass fakebook. I even found that photo on a birthday card for my sisterís 60th birthday last month. What a great picture.
Another new purchase that I like a lot is a book called ASAP Bluegrass mandolin by Eddie Collins published just last year. Itís very well done and I think compares favorably to such classics for begnning mandoloinists as Jack Tottleís, Andy Statmanís and Roland Whiteís. Of course, I have all of those books. Roland signed my copy of his book at Grass Valley last year. I still love it and use it. So why do I need yet another beginning mandolin book? I donít know. Itís just fun and maybe with one more book, Iíll finally learn how to play that darn thing.
Among new Old Time books, I really like Slow Jam for Old-Time Music. The versions of the tunes as played by Cathy Fink, Bruce Molsky, Marcy Marxer and Mark Schatz are really catchy and quick to learn. I liked that book so much that I recently bought another book by the same folks. Iím sure youíre not surprised by this admission. See, thatís how it happens. You love a few books and pretty soon you just keep buying book after book. Be warned, if you get like me youíll be out of control. I had a geologist from Caltech call me the other day about my bluegrass library. She said she was concerned that the continental shelf was starting to sink around Healdsburg as a result of the additional weight from all of my purchases. Actually I donít think itís all my fault. My neighborís collection of old National Geographic magazines may have something to do with it. I suppose I should find a good home for some of my less utilized volumes. Maybe I could start a whole wing in the Darrell Johnson Lending Library and others could make good use of my folly. Until then watch out. My next twelve step program may be twelve items in an oline book store order form.

Posted:  3/14/2010

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