|Author: Sargent, Geoff
It is a mixed blessing writing this column, especially during Festival week. Like many of the columnists I wait until the last minute, which doesn’t really work well at the FDF because as most of you know the PRIORITY during FDF is jamming and listening to music……column writing comes in a very distant 123rd down the list. So I thought I would write a non-column and get other folks to do the work for me. My strategy was to wander around and find some of the usual, and some of the unusual, suspects to gather short quotes on their most memorable FDF. This is not without some bodily risk and I got several suspicious looks from folks I approached, but once they realized my bona fides they usually passed look of annoyed relief. Here’s the memories, quotes, and musings from the folks I was able to corner. My apologies to those I didn’t hit. Due to time and accessibility I trolled for quotes from those that camped near me and from folks I could snag for 5 minutes during the festival. And I have to ask for a bit of latitude in what I transposed here…….the hand writing seemed a lot clearer in the dark. Maybe next year I can get the project started earlier. Enjoy.
“Dudley Connell and the Johnson Mountain Boys in the early or mid-nineties. My daughter and I learned the “Whole World Talk” off their cassette tape we bought at their booth.” Bruno Brandli
“The first time I played on Stage at the Festival in 1977. It was a real big deal because at the time my only aspiration was to play in a good Bluegrass Band. Playing at Grass Valley was the pinnacle at the time. Still is.” Mark Hogan
“Oh there’s too many to choose from. One was when Vern’s Band played with Rose Maddox at the FDF. Another was when I was emceeing for a show and told the crowd “you’ve got a killer bass player in the next act” just before I walked over to pick up my bass. My first time emceeing 30 years ago was real special because the stage manager told me to go change and get up on stage….it seems they were short an emcee that evening. So I went and changed from my work duds into my white suit. Been doing it ever since. One of the most special memories was from last year’s (2009) Festival where I was awarded an Lifetime Honorary Membership. Rick Cornish tricked me into going up on stage to make a presentation and when I looked at the plaque it had my name on it…it was a complete, unexpected surprise.” JD Rhynes
“Mudfest. A transformer had blown up, the power was out, and I found one of the greatest jams I’ve ever played in the women’s shower room at 2 AM in the morning.”
“Our first Bluegrass buddy was Lisa Burns. We showed up at our first Grass Valley and she invited us into her jam and showed up how things went at the festival.”
“Getting run over by the shuttle before our performance at the 2009 FDF.”
“Mudfest. It rained for weeks before the festival. Folks watched shows from motor homes and tents set up in front of the stage.” John Duncan
“I understand this is a bluegrass festival and you’re painting your truck, but I’m trying to hang this tarp in the tree.” Anon
“I used to think I did my best jamming between midnight and 4AM but now understand it’s between noon and 4PM.” Dave Zimmerman
“This isn’t exactly a festival experience but close enough. I was leading a slow jam at music camp and there was this lady that came up to me and said “if you play this song I’ll take a guitar break in the jam”. It turns out that she had been working with a guitar teacher on the break and part of her deal with the teacher was that she had to go try to do the break in a public jam. She was 79. Made my week.”
“The first time my kids were in KOB.” Bob Schwartz
“Six years ago my son was going to come up and visit me at the Festival. His car was pretty unreliable so we lent him our BMW for the drive up. When he arrived it was clearly not running right and I went out to buy some of the obvious things to try and fix the strange tapping noise coming from my engine. I spent a lot of time during the Festival replacing the spark plugs, rotor, etc…but to no avail…turns out hey had blown a valve on the trip to GV.” George Martin
I don’t know….they’re all kind of merging together.” Barbara Martin
“ I was practicing my fiddle in camp one year and this little 12 year old girl asked if she could play with me. She played fine and it was her first time playing with someone new.”
“My friend who became so “disoriented” late one night jamming at GV that he couldn’t find his tent and spent the night sleeping in his bass bag.” Topher Gayle
“Getting to sing with Roland White and Keith Little with the Instructor Allstars.”
“The “controversial” bands on the main stage.” Mary Tilden
“Every year at night I look up and there is something phenomenal happening in the sky in between the jams and camps….last night it was the crescent moon and venus.”
“We can’t remember any of them (sleep deprivation takes its toll!).
Jim & Natasha Burke
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