Author: Ramos, Jean

Sing Me on Home

We recently attended the Forty-Eight Hour Jam in Bakersfield, what a great event! It’s just what I needed to get me out of the winter time “blahs.” Winters on the Delta are often cold, gray and gloomy and can bring out the worst in a person. I sometimes sit under my Ott light; it’s supposed to simulate natural sunlight. Well, it worked for revealing true colors in my art work, but didn’t do much for my mood. Well, it may have revealed some true colors there too…This Little Light of Mine was hidden under the bushel basket for the month of December.

They say you can’t really sing the blues unless you’ve had them. Perhaps that’s true. As many of you know, “California Blues” is one of my favorites; “I’m goin’ to California where they sleep out every night…” I don’t know where in California that would be, but it’s not on the Sacramento River Delta.

I am so thankful for the CBA and all the folks that make up the bluegrass family. I meet and jam with new people at each event and the Great 48 was no exception. The fun started with a warm cookie at the Double Tree Registration and a friendly greeting by Charlene and Slim and their helpers at the CBA table in the lobby. Soon after our arrival on Friday afternoon, we went to get a meal at the hotel café and were invited to join Chuck and Jeanie Poling at their table. It gave us a chance to visit and get better acquainted, something that’s not always feasible during the jams. Later on, we were able to jam together; what a talented couple they are. The next morning at breakfast, we invited a couple bluegrass people to join us at our table. We didn’t know them but had seen them jamming. That was how we got to know Sally Vedder and Glen Horn. Later I jammed a little with Sally and was able to hear her sing a song she wrote called, “I’ll Get There When I Get There,” what a delight she is.

On Saturday night (or more likely it was the wee hours of Sunday morning); I had a chance to jam with Bruce Campbell and Dave Nielsen for the first time. I sometimes get apprehensive about jamming with new people, especially folks who can play circles around me. Most people know by now that I am more of a country singer than a bluegrasser and I’m thankful that there are lots of CBA people like Dave and Bruce who are cool with that. When Bruce took a break, another fellow stepped up, he had just learned to play the bass and was having himself a ball! He somehow couldn’t help himself and hung in there at least an hour. I wish I could remember his name, he was a big guy with a shaved head, a big smile and blood blisters on his fingertips.

After each CBA event I usually go home with a new list of songs that I want to learn. The CBA people are so accommodating, they’ll share their favorites with you, tell you how to find it on the web, who recorded it, what album it may be on, etc. It’s a pretty eclectic mix of subjects that you find at these jams.

Bluegrass songs are about real life. Real life has its ups and downs, its joys and sorrows. We sing about our coon hounds, moonshine stills and the places we call home. Sometimes we’re, “Sitting on Top of the World,” and sometimes “It’s Dark as a Dungeon, Way Down in the Mine.” One day we’re “Rolling in Our Sweet Baby’s Arms,” and the next day we’re rolling her off a cliff.

You may think this is a morbid subject to bring up but aren’t there a lot of bluegrass songs that have to do with death, dying, and burying? Right off the top of my head I can think of several; “Bury Me Beneath the Willow,” “Who Will Sing For Me,” “Roses in the Snow,” “Will You Miss Me,” and “Ain’t Nobody Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone.” I’m sure you all can think of many more. I haven’t even mentioned the murder ballads; not everybody in a bluegrass song has died of natural causes.

Thankfully, there are many bluegrass songs that also tell of the hereafter. Songs like, “Green Pastures,” “Angel Band,” “I’ll Fly Away,” “The Unclouded Day,” and “Where the Roses Never Fade.”

Recently I got a phone call from a dear friend who has been battling cancer for a number of years. She asked me to sing “This World Is Not My Home,” at her funeral. She expects the Lord to take her to her final home in the very near future. Some folks have told me they would find it very hard to sing at the funeral of a friend. I personally count it a privilege and an honor and view it as the very last thing I am able to do for her. In my friend’s case, it will be a celebration of a life well lived and I will joyfully sing her on home.

The Great 48 is now history. I would like to thank Trudy Compton for hanging in there with us and capturing some fond memories on video. You can view some of our fun jamming at the Great 48 by going to You Tube. Type in: CliffTheBard in the search field.

Well they call it the Great 48. I didn’t log in forty-eight hours, it just felt that way. I probably jammed for twenty hours including an hour at the Sunday morning Gospel Jam. It was a wonderful way to end a great week-end. See you at the next event!
Posted:  1/23/2011

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