A Grass Valley Wish List

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The Christmas season is a good time for wish lists. As kids we make up wish lists for Santa. And when we outgrow Santa Claus, we don’t stop making wish lists, we just make them up for different reasons. We even consult other people’s wish lists for gift ideas for those that are important to us yet hard to shop for.

The other day I was reading through my Bluegrass Breakdown and I got to thinking about my wish list for 2011. For sure attending the Father’s Day Festival at Grass Valley will be one of the things on my list. The only question will be whether I’ll get my act together soon enough to grab the early bird discount. This will be my fifth year at Grass Valley and my fifth year in a row.

I looked over the list of featured acts coming for 2011 and I got to thinking about all the great musicians I’ve been able to listen to over these first four years of attending. Then I started to think: What about all the folks I haven’t heard on the Grass Valley stage? If I could make a wish list of musicians I would like to see at Grass Valley some day, what would it look like?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not at all tired of any of the groups I’ve enjoyed in years past. It doesn’t bother me at all that I’ll be listening to the likes of Doyle, Del and Dale Ann this year, (whom I’ve already heard in my first four years at GV). I can assure you, if I had NOT already heard those guys at previous Father’s Day festivals, they would all be on my list of people I’d like to see there some day!

I had fun making up my wish list but I’m sure glad it’s not up to me to pick the acts for the CBA’s top event. For one thing, I’d miss out on all the acts I’ve never really listened to before but end up really liking when I hear them. I’m glad that there are other folks around who have their ears a little closer to the pulse of modern bluegrass and can turn me on to a fresh and exciting group that I might not have heard otherwise. If I did pick the acts at Grass Valley one year, I can only imagine the complaints from people outraged at my limited and sometimes oddball choices!

So, for what it’s worth, here’s my own very personal wish list:

Bert Daniel’s Hope-to-See-Them-Some-Day Allstars:

#1) Norman Blake. When the Blake and Rice album came out in the late 80’s it changed my life for good. Of course I had grown up listening to people like Lester and Earl when I was a kid in South Carolina. But I had drifted away to a lot of other kinds of music after that. One memorable day I happened to be listening to the radio and I heard Norman and Tony play Blake’s “Green Light on the Southern”. I knew then that I would always return to the kind of music I had loved as a kid. I haven’t stopped listening to it since and I still like Norman Blake’s music better than anybody else’s.

#2) Hazel Dickens. Now here’s a gal who really knows how to write a great song! West Virginia, My Home and Mama’s Hand have to be two of the best bluegrass songs ever written and Hazel sings em like she means em!

#3) Caleb Klauder. Caleb seems to have branched off on his own a bit these days, but I still love his brand of old time music with or without other members of the Foghorn String Band.

#4) Ralph Stanley. No need to elaborate here.

#5) The Kruger Brothers.

#6) Ricky Skaggs.

#7) Sam Bush. (Do I hear some boos out there?). Let me tell you, this guy is a great bluegrass musician and if he wants to bring a drum set with him, I personally don’t have a problem with that.

#8) Hot Rize. If they can’t come as a group, I’ll settle for any of the members of this great band, they’re all good. Bring Steve Martin too! Maybe he can teach Paul Shelasky some good jokes!

#9) Earl Scruggs

#10) Kenny Hall. I’ve heard so much about this home grown California original, but I’ve never actually hard him perform. I have a book about Kenny which includes an incredibly diverse assortment of great old tunes. He must be really something. A movie is out now too about Kenny Hall.

That’s enough. Of course I could go on and on. There are so many great musicians out there in Bluegrass/Old time Land. What does your top ten wish list look like?


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