Author: Rhynes, J.D.

Dear Folks

Dear Folks: Well, here it is December of '10, and we are about to embark on a NEW decade! Who'd a thunk we'd all be here, way back in June of "76 when we didn't know we couldn't put on a Bluegrass festival, so we did it anyway! GEEZ, this is gonna be our 36th BIG Festival,come June, and I'm gonna be the BIG 73 come March 21st! ALL I'VE GOT TO SAY, IS YAHOOOOOO! I've been doin a LOT of thinkin' lately, and the one thang I've come to realize is, the CLOSER I get to 80, THE YOUNGER it sound's! HA HA HA HA HA HA HA! WOW!

I've been trying all week to come up with a good story to tell y'all this month, but my mind has been all over the map, jes rememberin' 'lil bit's and pieces of my musical life. SO, I figgered, what the heck, jes tell the folks jes what I experienced over a LOT of years pickin music, and Emceein' shows all over the USA. SO, here we go! Y'all better get REAL DEEP in yer saddle, 'cause this aint no easy ride! Ha ha ha!

To start with, let's go back to a Friday nite band practice of the San Joaquin Valley Boy's in late summer of 1960. It was a HOT late summer Friday nite, and the S.J.V.B.'s were doin their weekly band practice. The doors and windows were all open, [ NO one had air conditioning back then! ] and we were pickin' a REAL hot version of "Salty Dog Blues"! Our banjo picker Shelby Freeman, could literally TEAR IT UP! When we got through pickin that tune, there was a dog barking his head off outside on the side walk. That lil' sucker had been barkin' fer about 10 minutes, and I'd had enough of it, so I yelled out the screen door; SHUT UP YOU 'LIL &%$##&*(()) ! {NOT KNOWING some folks were out walking their dogs, and had stopped to listen to our music. ]THAT'Swhen some woman said; THAT'S my Dog yer a'cussin! WELL, valor is the better of a man's make up, so I gently CLOSED that door.

Shelby never let me forget that moment to the day he died.

Way back in the late '70's, I got into making belt buckles fer my buddies in Bluegrass music. I made a buckle fer all of us in Vern's band, NOT knowing I'd created a "NICHE" in the bidness! WELL, fast forward to early summer of 1983. Ray Park came down to visit Vern one Saturday and they came over to my house fer a visit, and we were settin on my patio having a " cool"one and I leaned back in my chair to stretch and yawn as we are all want to do at time's. WELL, my custom made belt buckle that I had made a few years before really "stood out", and when Ray saw it, he said; Where's MY belt buckle you SLUT? Seem's like I'd promised Ray a buckle that I'd forgot to make fer him! Well, long story short; I got busy and made Ray a buckle that said; WORLDS BEST FIDDLE PLAYER, and Ray's name was in the middle of it. I gave it to him at our fall festival in 1983. Byron Berline was playing with Ray at that festival, and when he saw that buckle, he said; Hell, Ray, you know I'm the best! That's MY BUCKLE! Needless to say, my buddy Ray owned that buckle, and wore it with pride to the day he died! In my opinion, Ray Park was THE BEST fiddle player I've ever known! Kenny Baker, and Benny Martin knew Ray well from his years in Nashville in the middle '60's, and over the years i've had the pleasure to set and talk about my pal Ray and his prowess as one of the best fiddle players with both of these great gentlemen. BOTH Kenny, and Benny told me personally, that Ray could play "lick's" that only "The Angel's" can hear! As my good friend Ron Thomason would say: MAN,It dont get any GOODER THAN THAT!

I guess that fer an ol country boy sech as my ownself, I've been truly blessed. Who'd a thunk way back in 1943 when I first heard Bill Monroe on the radio, that someday I would be able to call him a personal friend and to Emcee some festival show's fer him. [You talk about NERVOUS! ] I know now that I've got a lot less days in front of me than I have behind me, but lookin' back, I aint got one durn regret to mull over! I have been blessed musically, beyond my wildest dreams! I have got to play the music of my soul with the BEST BANDS IN CALIFORNIA, EVER! I have got to meet the greatest folks of all TIME, YOU, the members of the CBA! As my Cowboy pard Pat Russell would say; J.D.: Let's "chap up" and see how they buck fer the rest of the Rodeo!

Posted:  12/23/2010

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