Author: Cornish, Rick

Good Last Saturday of the year!

Let me quickly say before I forget. High Country will ring in the New Year at the Freight and Salvage in Berkeley tonight, and if you don’t believe me, just look up the screen a bit to a very large pronouncement of that fact. Were my wife and I not in the final-stages of our transformation into hermits, we’d be there. (By the way, these screen-wide, top of the page ads are now available for your special events…cheap.)

Three weeks ago this morning, as I kissed my wife goodbye before driving down to our board meeting in Modesto, (a recent University of Pennsylvania study recently presented very strong evidence to suggest that men who kiss their wives goodbye routinely have a 6.2 year greater life expectancy than the brutes who don’t), I off-handedly mentioned that this would be the last December CBA board meeting I’d be attending, at least as a seated member. Lynn didn’t seem impressed, but as I cruised down the western slope of the great Sierra Nevada Mountains toward the flats, the notion of ‘lasts’ and ‘firsts’ took hold of me and didn’t let go for the next sixty miles.

I thought back on my first board meeting as a member some eleven years before, where I learned that a first year board member was automatically given the job of Ticket Booth Coordinator. Also, the poor soul, as a sort of initiation, was in charge of the movement of all Fathers Day Festival equipment…stage, lighting and a couple truckloads of other stuff…to the fairgrounds on Sunday and then back to the CBA’s storage locker nine days later. I, of course, did my duty only to find that the initiation tradition had begun in 2000, the year I was elected, and ended in 2001, just prior to the FDF. Apparently a one-year pilot program. And I thought about my first one-on-one conversation with J.D. Rhynes, which we had during lunch at my first board meeting, and how it brought back the wise words of advice from my dear sweet mother…’Ricky, always be careful of what you wish for.’ I remembered with some agitation the very first board discussion in which I had a role that brought home the shocking and completely unexpected realization that ending an event in the black was not an automatic. I remember the first time a random event attendee stopped me and, just out of the blue, told me I was doing a good job; and, at the same event, the first member who shared a more or less opposite view. I thought of my first time backstage as a board member and how a certain band leader whose career I’d followed for years like a star-struck teenager came up to me and introduced himself. And when my fellow board members elected me their chairman, there was the first in a long, long, long string of angry ‘why-no-dogs’ letters I had to respond to. (And, no, I didn’t use a form letter and simply sign it.) There was the first of my many screw-ups as chair and the first of several gentle reprimands from my mentor, Carl Pagter; the first child we lost in the campgrounds and, with it, my first true appreciation of the concept of the buck-stops-here.

And I thought of the lasts that were coming up; the last truly knock-down-drag-out controversial vote in which I would take part—DOGS AT GRASS VALLEY--(hopefully the last, anyway); the last night I will engage in the titanic albeit hopeless struggle to fall asleep in the bedroom of my palatial Doubletree Presidential Suite while the GREAT 48 jam in the living room forges on until breakfast time; the last time I’ll be stopped by a member while I’m making a badly-needed, rush trip to the john who’s got a serious complaint that can only be lodged by first giving me some background on the situation which ‘first raised its ugly head in 1993….no, wait, it was 1994, I remember because it was the Friday night of the festival that they were chasing OJ on the freeway in his SUV, I think it was a Gran Cherokee, or, you know, one of those sport utility thingies…anyway, were was I?’; the last time Montie Elston would bang on the door of my old Argosy trailer at 3:00 a.m. and begin with…’I just thought you should know…; the last snotty call I would receive from a po’ed booking agent wondering how it was possible that not one of his acts got hired, (‘Damn, I wish you people could get your act together!’); the butterflies in my stomach just moments before stepping out onto the stage and proudly welcoming the audience to the Thursday morning kick-off of the California Bluegrass Association’s Fathers Day Festival.); the last call I’ll get from a long-time elderly Association member telling me that her husband has passed and that she won’t be coming to Grass Valley this June.

So, let me close by acknowledging that there have been precious few experiences in my life that have given me greater joy, or more opportunities to ponder why we’re put on this earth, than the time I’ve spent serving you, the members of the California Bluegrass Association.

Happy New Year to all.
Posted:  12/31/2011

Copyright © 2002 California Bluegrass Association. All rights reserved.
Comments? Questions? Please email