Author: Ramos, Jean

Sunday Mornin’ Coming Down

I hate saying “Good-bye,” to folks that I love, don’t you? When I made my final rounds at the fairgrounds in Turlock last Sunday, I made it a point to say, “So long,” “See you later,” or “Love You,” to the bluegrass friends. I didn’t tell anyone “good-bye.” It was a wonderful campout and I hated for the party to end.

We arrived at the fairgrounds on Tuesday and found several people there already. I didn’t even get the truck/camper parked before we were greeted by Herman Watson and Jimmy Lindsay. They were ready to jam as soon as I stepped out of the cab. When I got everything leveled and hooked up, we did just that. We were soon joined by Alex Sharps, the 17 year old who plays fiddle, banjo and dulcimer and sings as well. (I was beginning to think that Alex had a twin, he was everywhere I looked). Before I knew it, there were 3 or 4 others that dragged up a chair and picked and sang along with us for a couple hours. After a dinner break, we congregated at the Tilden’s camp and played and sang some more. After the first few hours, I was happily distracted from the cares of the world, responsibilities at home and the IRS’ hand in our back pocket.

This year I had the opportunity to meet just about everyone in camp as I went around and got signatures on a greeting card for Ken and Grace Reynolds who celebrated their 50th Anniversary on Saturday. The kids honored them with a special song, AJ sang, “Only You,” she was accompanied by Tim Elson, the Schwartz boys and Alex Sharps.

The KOB gave a wonderful performance on Saturday evening. I was amazed at the level of talent, and was completely blown away by little Evie who has a voice that will knock your hat into the creek! Tessa Schwartz won the hearts of everyone as she stood there playing her fiddle, rocking to and fro in her little red boots. I’ve always thought that red boots ought to be a part of every girl’s wardrobe! All of the kids played well and their progress is evident from one event to the next.

I had a great time getting to know different people and jamming with some I hadn’t played with before; Kristen Willis, Rainy Escobar, Randy Morton, Kelly Broyles, Fred the fiddler, Anne Whitehurst, Lucy Smith, and the list goes on. Brother Dave Gardner used to say, “Remember, strangers are the friends you haven’t met yet.” I feel like I made some really good friends at this campout. My mentor, Jerry Pujol, will be pleased to hear that I took breaks on my guitar in two different jams. He’ll probably raise the bar on me now.

A few days ago in his welcome column, Bruce Campbell made mention of the variety of instruments that were being played around the fairgrounds. There’s one he didn’t mention that was brought by a lady named Darlene. It is called by various names; horn violin, resophonic fiddle, Stroh violin, etc. It has a finger board and neck like a fiddle and attached to that is a metal resonator with a horn about the size of a bell on a trumpet. It has a place for a second smaller horn so that when the bow is drawn across the strings, the sound is amplified and comes out of the horn. The smaller horn would be aimed at the player’s ear and serves as a monitor. It was the darndest thing I ever saw. Maybe next year I’ll bring my Apache fiddle that’s made from an agave stalk and has horsehair strings.

One of the highlights of our stay at Turlock came around 3:00 or 4:00 AM, I can’t remember if it was Thursday or Friday. I awoke to the sound of a beautiful blend of voices singing “Angel Band,” just outside our ‘bedroom” window. They sang several other gospel songs, a capella, and continued the serenade for about 30 minutes. I drifted back to sleep feeling like I had been sipping one of those drinks with a flower or umbrella in it.

Not only was there a variety of instruments of every vintage, there was an eclectic mixture of music. Of course, there was the traditional bluegrass, country, old time, swing, and gospel. On Saturday night I was jamming with Cory Welch, Jimmy Bowman, Randy Weisendanger, Chuck Weir, Val Cornejo and Pat Wade. When it was Pat’s turn to pick a song, I’ll be darned if he didn’t break out with La Cucaracha on the banjo! We all had a good laugh over that one, but I went to my camper when he was about to play “Lady of Spain,” for an encore. The last thing I remember as I left that jam was seeing Cliff wandering around looking for his chair. Some things never change.

Did anybody else go home with one hand more tan than the other? My right hand is brown and my left hand is still a lighter shade of pale. That goes to show, I was “picking” most of the time I was outdoors. I’ve heard of a “farmer tan” but now I’ve got what’s called a “picker’s tan.”

If anybody remembers, in my last welcome column I mentioned the new, age defying wrinkle cream that is supposed to take 10 years off my appearance, I’ve got a progress report for you. Somebody told me I didn’t look a day over 65, so that means it’s working, I’ve gained nearly 5 months. Next time I go to Costco, I’m going to look for “Gravity Defying Cream.” Also last month, I talked about staying connected with the iPhone. I’ve decided I need to wean myself away from it. I was actually looking at a magazine yesterday and tried to enlarge a picture by tapping on it. Is there a support group?

On a serious note, my heartfelt thanks to Steve and Mary Tilden and all the volunteers who helped make this campout a success. I look forward to seeing you all at Grass Valley.
Posted:  4/25/2010

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