A good Tuesday morning to you from Whiskey Creek, where life after 15 consecutive days of triple digit temps is finally returning to normal, or as normal as it gets when there are twice the number of dogs as humans trying to enforce their specie’s particular brand of daily rituals and social interaction. We win sometimes…they win sometimes.
From the parallel universe department, I spent the weekend in Atascadero at Roger Siminoff’s spread attending his tenth annual ’backyard picking party’ and had a terrific time. Probably a hundred or so folks at the event and a good three-quarters were pickers. Jams everywhere and all the time. The music, the camping amenities, the eats, just the whole vibe…everything as perfect as you’d expect from a couple like Roger and Rosemary. I say ‘parallel universe’ because I was struck, as I’m sure most of you are from time to time, by the similarities of one local bluegrass family to the next. Most of the attendees were from the Central California region, a tight knit but very welcoming group extending up to Coalinga and down past Santa Barbara, but they could have been picking together in the Bay Area or Sacramento or up here in the Mother Lode. The same songs, same jamming sacraments, same corny but sweet banjo jokes. It’s nice to know you can drive a couple hundred, or couple thousand, miles in any direction and discover your still at home.
Kenny Reynolds posted some very distressing news on the Message Board yesterday…long-time CBA member, former Bluegrass Breakdown Editor and exuberant practitioner of the music of Mr. Monroe, Zeke Griffin has had the crap kicked out of him by cancer. As Ken writes, “He is fighting a major battle to beat this and can use all the support we can offer. I’m asking that all CBA members to take a little time and offer up prayers on Zeke’s behalf and help him get through this.” Zeke, who lives up in Reno, reported on his Facebook page that “Bottom line: I’m fine. Missing my lung’s upper lobe and have some nice holes in my side, and a butt load of work ahead of me with even the best-case scenario.” We’re all counting on that best-case scenario, my friend.
It wouldn’t be a Welcome column written in the month of August without a reminder that we’re once again in the CBA’s board of directors’ election cycle. Ballots can be found in your September Bluegrass Breakdown. If you’re an E-BB person only, your download will include a ballot you can print, cut out, fill out and send in. Twelve years ago, the first year I ran for the board, a fellow by the name of Bob Thomas, someone whose name I’d heard but who I’d never met, sent out a big bunch of emails to his considerably long list of bluegrass friends urging that they consider casting a vote for me, Rick Cornish. Bob didn’t recommend against any other candidates on the ballot, he simply suggested that the leadership team could use some new ideas and that members could do worse than vote for yours truly. Well, twelve years later, as I leave after a long and eventful and very satisfying run on the board, I will do the same. I’d like to encourage you to consider the candidacies of Dave Gooding and David Brace. Both have made considerable contributions to the Association over the years, I’ve worked a good deal with both and have found them to be bright and honest and true to their word. Moreover, I know that both of the David’s have some fresh ideas for moving the California Bluegrass Association ahead in the years to come. Their candidate statements, along with those of the other eleven, will be presented here on cbaontheweb.org very soon.
And speaking of fresh ideas, it was just a year ago that Steve Goldfield ran for the board for the very first time with some ideas on how to better involve the old-time music community in the Association. One of those ideas, the continuation of the Golden Old-Time Camp Out after dropping the event the year before, bore fruit this past weekend. According to Steve’s preliminary report to the board, the event held at Lake Sonoma in what can only be described as perfect weather drew close to 140 attendees. Aside from a few hungry raccoons, some pesky, also voracious, yellow jackets and a sometimes less than cooperative English bulldog, Steve reported a campout that was simply wonderful and music that was…well, simply divine. Thanks to Steve Goldfield for resurrecting our old-time camp out. Expect another next summer.
And while we’re on the subject of next summer, you won’t be surprised that behind the scenes work is already being done for FDF 2013. Several headliners have been booked, including Rhonda Vincent and Rage, Blue Highway and Special Consensus. We’ve also begun the process of making the selection of our five California Showcase bands for Grass Valley ’13 and are now accepting packets. Send them to John Duncan at 2915 57th Street, Sacramento, CA 95817. The deadline is October 31. And don’t forget, though we’re very interested in introducing new California acts to our Fathers Day audience, bands that have had Showcase slots in the past are also eligible.
I’ll add parenthetically here that, for whatever reason, we’ve been blessed the past couple weeks with a spate of some exceptionally good Welcome columns. I mean, the quality of our daily musings has, in my opinion, consistently been high since we first started assembling our team of writers. But in the past couple weeks we’ve just seen some outstanding pieces, my contribution today not withstanding. To the Chuck’s and Jeanie’s and J.D.’s and Bert’s of this world, we thank and salute you.
I’ll close with a recommendation that, unless I’m missing something, has absolutely nothing to do with bluegrass or even music in general. While driving down Highway 101 last Friday I tuned into NPR’s Science Friday show and happened to catch an interview with David Eagleman, a neuroscientist
and author of the recently published, Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain (Pantheon Books, 2011). Eagleman’s ideas, which seem to be borne out by a couple of decades worth of his work at the Baylor College of Medicine, were startling enough for me to pull into a rest stop to listen to the last twenty minutes of the interview with as much attention as I could muster, which, at my age, is nothing to shout about. He had me hooked with his analogy between how the brain works and how a parliament, with all its competing interests and conflicting ideologies makes decisions. If you’ve got the time and inclination, click here for a listen.
Enjoy your week, please.