Author: Ramos, Jean

Non Stop Bluegrass

In my last column, I covered the Plymouth Festival. I barely got home from that event and did a little laundry and we headed south to Hobb’s Grove. Hobb’s is a nice setting for a festival; having a Country Fair atmosphere with a nice grassy camping area. The stage and audience area is in a shady grove of trees that was very comfortable during the heat of the day. Kelly Broyles and Marcos did a great job of putting on this festival.

I took my fiddle along to Hobb’s and Rick Cornish gave me a fiddle lesson; “Bile Dem Cabbage Down.” Shuffle, shuffle, shuffle! My friend Jerry Pujol has been encouraging and helpful in this new endeavor also. I’m playing a very nice old fiddle that JD Rhynes gave me and I’m determined to learn to play something pretty for him someday. In the meantime, poor Terry has to endure a lot of horrid sounds, something akin to a cat fight. When we got home, I practiced a couple hours every night. Finally, he said, “You know, I think this is a good time for me to go visit my cousin up in Humboldt County.” So off he went.

Well, now I’m trying to catch up around home after a fun week at the Fall Camp-out in Isleton. Thank you, Steve and Mary Tilden. I appreciate all your efforts in putting together this event. What a great time we had there. We received the usual warm welcome that we’ve been met with at previous visits to the Lighthouse Resort. As soon as we got settled, our “neighbors” came to greet us. They were Tony and Elena and Dave and Barbara, members of the resort whom we had met at previous camp-outs. Both couples told us they looked forward to the jamming and told us to use some of their space, tables, chairs, and whatever we needed during our stay. Tony even filled a refrigerator with bottles of water and other beverages and told all our jammers to help themselves.

I hosted a jam in our camp nearly every day and night. As most of you know, I’m more “country” than I am bluegrass. I’ve found that many of my CBA friends enjoy singing and playing old country songs as well as bluegrass, so we had a nice mix. Henry and Nancy came by for a little while and did a duet, “Jackson.” One night, Jack Hyland, who heads up the CBA Mercantile, came by and jammed. Christine Grim came with Jack and played her fiddle. A couple of her tunes were so beautiful they brought tears to my eyes; Kentucky Waltz and Ashokan Farewell. I enjoyed picking with Jim Johnston, he gave us a run for our money with Freight Train Boogie, while Corey Welch played bass. Dave, the fellow that I showed a few chords to back in August, showed up with a new acoustic guitar and sat in on a jam. He was thrilled to be able to play along on a couple of the songs. Incidentally, he also joined CBA.

You know what’s great about CBA? For one thing, if you show an interest in learning a new instrument, or improving your skills, there’s always someone willing to assist you. Cliff gave me a flat picking lesson that was very helpful. Jerry Pujol spent time with me on the fiddle and Rick gave me two more lessons. I’ve got lots of homework to do.

In addition to the jams, there was an open mike session each evening. That’s always a lot of fun. We all appreciate Vic Yeakle who provides the sound system at these events.

It was so good to have our buddy Cliff back singing and picking with us. He was surrounded by a bunch of “mother hens” though, everyone telling him not to “over do.” I think he knows it’s because we all love him. We hated to see him leave on Saturday but he’s “listening to his body” for now.

We held a couple jams outside the office so that the staff could enjoy some music while they worked. I joined George Martin, Gene Tortora, Vic Yeakle, Don Pemberton, and Rick Cornish at the first jam in that area. Gene plays an eight string dobro and sings some really good songs. He and George came to my camp later and we jammed the rest of the afternoon with several other folks.

One evening a very talented group from Pennsylvania; the Allegheny String band, gave an after dinner performance. The brother and two sisters; Mary, Joseph and Beth who are 18, 16 and 15 years old, were very entertaining and blew us away with their rendition of “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” On one song, Joseph played some spoons. Now I know that some folks don’t care for the spoons, especially in a jam, but this performance was really fun to watch and listen to. One of our CBA members, Mike, played bass for the group.

We had an extra special treat on Saturday; Pat and George Calhoun came for the day. Pat was able to jam with her dear friends and it warmed the hearts of everyone who knows and loves these two dear people. I pray that it won’t be long before she’s regained her strength and endurance and can once again host more of those wonderful jams that she’s known for.

I must not forget to mention all the great meals that Walt Jamieson and his wonderful team of volunteers provided all week. It was nice not to have to take time from jamming and socializing to prepare meals. My personal favorite was the spaghetti on Saturday night. Barbara made over twenty gallons of sauce from scratch beginning with tomatoes from her own garden.

I had a very pleasant surprise at the Spaghetti Dinner; Walt called me to come to the front of the room. He had a bag in his hand and I thought he was going to present me with a gag gift of some sort, you know Walt…and it turned out to be a lovely engraved plaque from the Lighthouse Resort for my contribution and support of the summer camp-out there. They were pleased with my Welcome Column covering that event.

Sunday morning we woke up to wind and rain. It didn’t keep folks from attending Bluegrass Church at 8:30 AM. Rich and Debra Ferguson, Alex Sharps and I led the singing and Michael Sharps, who pastors a church in RioVista, gave a brief message. This was a wonderful way to end another memorable week.

You may have noticed my message title, Non Stop Bluegrass…well, it seems that the bluegrass festival season may be winding down here in Northern California but there’s still lots of jamming to be done here and there; special performances to attend and in my case, lots of practice on my guitar and fiddle. Make plans now to attend the 48 Hour Jam! Sign up for Music Camp! Host a jam in your home, invite me. For the Snowbirds in our midst, have a safe and happy, bluegrass filled winter.

Posted:  10/24/2010

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