Author: Poling, Chuck

These Are a Few of My Favorite Strings
 

Dear Readers,

Allow me to indulge myself as I wax poetic about the Fatherís Day Festival. At the risk of sounding like some old Deadhead friends of mine who routinely declared that every show they saw was the ďbest one ever, dude,Ē I canít help but declare that the 36th annual FDF was, indeed, the best one ever. Dude.

The weather was perfect. The jamming was plentiful and the performances were stellar. I saw many old friends, made new ones, and enjoyed a week together with Jeanie away from the cares of everyday life.

For the second year in a row, Jeanie and I attended CBA Music Camp. Itís a great experience that I highly recommend to anyone who hasnít been before. In addition to the expert instruction you receive in camp, youíll be surrounded and inspired by people who are just as goofy about bluegrass music as you are.

Many of you have read Matt Milanís ďwhat was your favorite FDF momentĒ thread on the CBA message board. Iíve enjoyed reading the responses as they come in and thought about what my response should be. Honestly, I had so much fun, I couldnít narrow it down to even three or four. Then I remembered that I write a web column and could use this forum to gush about my way super-cool, totally awesome, off the hook Fatherís Day Festival experience.
We arrived at the Nevada County Fairgrounds late Sunday afternoon after a nearly traffic-free drive from San Francisco. A good omen. After setting up camp Ė weíre getting pretty good at this Ė we started sniffing around for a jam. It didnít take long to find one, and we were off to a roaring start.

Some highlights:

Mike Comptonís Level 3 mandolin class. Not only is Mike my favorite mandolin picker, heís also an excellent teacher with a challenging, no-nonsense approach to getting that Monroe sound. He also graciously allowed me to interview him Ė the story will appear in the August issue of the Bluegrass Breakdown. Plus it was a treat to have SF pal Nicole Solis (formerly of the Barefoot Nellies) in the class.

Dinner with Lou Felthouse and the Kentucky Twisters crew. Lou is an excellent cook and has perhaps the most elaborate kitchen at the fairgrounds. I have mooched many a delicious meal from him and drained more than a few glasses of superb wine, yet I seem to be always welcome at Louís camp.

Jamming at Jeanie and Terry Ramosís camp. Nicest people youíll ever want to meet. They attract more nice people and have a lot of fun playing old country songs. I felt especially honored that Cliff Compton broke a string during a song I led. The big guy just gets so carried away he canít help himself.

The Central Valley Boys at Vernís. Red suits, white boots, and bluegrass music. Billy Mooreís taco shell hat. They had matching white belts too. Just like the cover of a Jimmy Martin album from 1975. And some fine, fine singing and pickiní. How about putting them on the main stage in 2012?

Itís always fun to sit where you can see proud family members as they watch their child, husband, wife or friend performing on stage. I sat beside Sarah Barie, whose husband Jason is the fiddler for Doyle Lawson. She told me that she met Jason right there in Grass Valley back in 1997 when he was playing for the Sand Mountain Boys. He had his own cheering section there.

I also sat behind Snap Jackson and Erin as they were watching the Kids on Bluegrass. As Chloe sang ďRed Rose Bouquet,Ē Erin was wiping the tears from her eyes. That little gal can sing, and I predict weíll be seeing a lot more of her in the future.

Speaking of Snap Jackson, he and his Knock on Wood Players really brought quite a lot of excitement to Vernís Stage. What a class act, all dressed in black and red! I thought it was so nice that they acknowledged folks like Chef Mike and Carl Pagter for helping them get some exposure with the CBA. The first time I saw this group, Chef Mike had introduced them at the Spring Camp-Out in Turlock. They gave an impromptu performance in Mikeís camp and it didnít take long for a crowd to gather around, and the place started buzzing. Snap gave out CDís to those of us who were nearby and the rest is history. Iíd love to see them on the main stage in 2012; I know Iím not alone in this.

I enjoyed having lunch on Sunday afternoon with Mona Anacleto. We talked about the fun weíd had all week. She told me there was a place around there where one could buy a $5.00 donut, but we arenít mentioning any names. Iíve never had a $5.00 donut before, but between Terry and me, we spent $15.00 a day on ice cream.

As always, I had a great time jamming. We brought eight folding chairs and it didnít take long to fill them as soon as we turned on the light under our canopy. Jim Johnston paid me the highest compliment by saying that my jams reminded him of the ones Wayne Nolan and Lloyd Butler used to have. We sang a lot of old country songs and played Ďtil the wee hours of the morning. It was
We arrived at the Nevada County Fairgrounds late Sunday afternoon after a nearly traffic-free drive from San Francisco. A good omen. After setting up camp Ė weíre getting pretty good at this Ė we started sniffing around for a jam. It didnít take long to find one, and we were off to a roaring start.

Some highlights:

Mike Comptonís Level 3 mandolin class. Not only is Mike my favorite mandolin picker, heís also an excellent teacher with a challenging, no-nonsense approach to getting that Monroe sound. He also graciously allowed me to interview him Ė the story will appear in the August issue of the Bluegrass Breakdown. Plus it was a treat to have SF pal Nicole Solis (formerly of the Barefoot Nellies) in the class.

Dinner with Lou Felthouse and the Kentucky Twisters crew. Lou is an excellent cook and has perhaps the most elaborate kitchen at the fairgrounds. I have mooched many a delicious meal from him and drained more than a few glasses of superb wine, yet I seem to be always welcome at Louís camp.

Jamming at Jeanie and Terry Ramosís camp. Nicest people youíll ever want to meet. They attract more nice people and have a lot of fun playing old country songs. I felt especially honored that Cliff Compton broke a string during a song I led. The big guy just gets so carried away he canít help himself.

The Central Valley Boys at Vernís. Red suits, white boots, and bluegrass music. Billy Mooreís taco shell hat. They had matching white belts too. Just like the cover of a Jimmy Martin album from 1975. And some fine, fine singing and pickiní. How about putting them on the main stage in 2012?

Jeanie and I participated in a terrific little jam with Jim Nunally, Judy Forrest, Jerry Barish, Yvonne Warlbroehl, and Olivier Zyngier. A small jam with a simpatico group of pickers can be a sweet thing.

The John Hartford Stringband. What a hoot. Nice guys to hang with, which we did all week. They played wonderful music that ranged from the hysterical to the heartbreaking. An excellent example of a band that takes traditional music seriously and still has fun with it.

°Viva Snap! Snap Jackson and the Knock on Wood Players knocked Ďem dead at Vernís with a combination of musical chops, showmanship, and passion for bluegrass. I had a ball pickiní with Snap and Eric and a jolly crew of jammers at Henry and Nancy Zunigaís camp the night before their performanc.. That kid fiddler, whatís his name, Sawyer? Keep an eye on that kid.

California Pearly Blue also received a great response from the Vernís audience. The charm and girlyness certainly didnít hurt, but these gals came to play bluegrass the way it should be played, with drive and feeling.

A wonderful, wacky jam with Prentice and Cameron, the Lone Mountain Sisters, along with the irrepressible Paul Sato (look it up, Paul) and our old pal Russell Roe, visiting from North Carolina. I seek out their camp every year for music, libations, and spirited verbal jousting. Then I seek out my tent to sleep it off.

Had a visit with our friends Mike Barber and Clayton Campbell of the Gibson Brothers. We got to know them up at Wintergrass and were enthusiastically greeted by both backstage at the FDF. Of course, one of many wonderful things about bluegrass music is the interaction between the fans and the performers.

Gee howdy! How fine it was seeing the CBAís own Ed Neff on stage with the Traveling McCourys. His twin fiddling with Jason Carter was simply sublime. While they were playing, I was hanging out backstage with J.D. Rhynes during this segment thinking about the debt of gratitude all California bluegrass fans owe to folks like Ed, J.D., Carl Pagter, Jack Sadler, the late Jake Quesenberry, and other pioneers of the California Bluegrass Association.

We spent a total of eight days at the fairgrounds and played, practiced, listened to and studied bluegrass music the whole time we were there. But apparently that wasnít enough. After returning to San Francisco we were out the next evening at Amnesiaís Monday Night Bluegrass series. Windy Hill had the Mission District hipsters howling for more with a great brand of traditional bluegrass, along with hats and ties. Looking sharp, boys.

The experience really was the best Fatherís Day Festival ever and Iím feeling more energized than ever about playing my mandolin. Iím hoping to get out to as many festivals, jams, campouts and other events that include bluegrass music and I hope to see my bluegrass friends out there.





The John Hartford Stringband. What a hoot. Nice guys to hang with, which we did all week. They played wonderful music that ranged from the hysterical to the heartbreaking. An excellent example of a band that takes traditional music seriously and still has fun with it.

°Viva Snap! Snap Jackson and the Knock on Wood Players knocked Ďem dead at Vernís with a combination of musical chops, showmanship, and passion for bluegrass. I had a ball pickiní with Snap and Eric and a jolly crew of jammers at Henry and Nancy Zunigaís camp the night before their performanc.. That kid fiddler, whatís his name, Sawyer? Keep an eye on that kid.

California Pearly Blue also received a great response from the Vernís audience. The charm and girlyness certainly didnít hurt, but these gals came to play bluegrass the way it should be played, with drive and feeling.

A wonderful, wacky jam with Prentice and Cameron, the Lone Mountain Sisters, along with the irrepressible Paul Sato (look it up, Paul) and our old pal Russell Roe, visiting from North Carolina. I seek out their camp every year for music, libations, and spirited verbal jousting. Then I seek out my tent to sleep it off.

Had a visit with our friends Mike Barber and Clayton Campbell of the Gibson Brothers. We got to know them up at Wintergrass and were enthusiastically greeted by both backstage at the FDF. Of course, one of many wonderful things about bluegrass music is the interaction between the fans and the performers.

Gee howdy! How fine it was seeing the CBAís own Ed Neff on stage with the Traveling McCourys. His twin fiddling with Jason Carter was simply sublime. While they were playing, I was hanging out backstage with J.D. Rhynes during this segment thinking about the debt of gratitude all California bluegrass fans owe to folks like Ed, J.D., Carl Pagter, Jack Sadler, the late Jake Quesenberry, and other pioneers of the California Bluegrass Association.

We spent a total of eight days at the fairgrounds and played, practiced, listened to and studied bluegrass music the whole time we were there. But apparently that wasnít enough. After returning to San Francisco we were out the next evening at Amnesiaís Monday Night Bluegrass series. Windy Hill had the Mission District hipsters howling for more with a great brand of traditional bluegrass, along with hats and ties. Looking sharp, boys.

The experience really was the best Fatherís Day Festival ever and Iím feeling more energized than ever about playing my mandolin. Iím hoping to get out to as many festivals, jams, campouts and other events that include bluegrass music and I hope to see my bluegrass friends out there.


 
Posted:  6/27/2011



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