Birthdays and Growing-Up Fast

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I have to admit, after being selected to serve on the Board of Directors, I didn’t much miss sharing an office with Slim. As many of you know, as newbie monthly columnists, we shared the cramped quarters of an old Econoline van on blocks in the back parking lot of the CBA Tower. His legs are long, and that van can get ripe during the hot summer months of July and August. It has been several months now since they moved me indoors to a cramped broom closet of an office. I’m getting used to the scent of that oil they put on those red dust mops; I’ve lost a couple of pounds running donuts and coffee to the big boys and gals upstairs; and the typewriter they’ve given me is actually electric. Despite the soft life, I sometimes wax nostalgic for the days when Slim and I would exchange kind, gentle words of encouragement when the rain would leak through the van’s rust holes. My heart will always have a soft place for Slim’s warm chuckle and gentle sense of humor.

It’s hard to believe that it has only been a short year since receiving my first assignment as a CBA cub columnist. In fact, September not only marks my first anniversary as a writer, but it’s also a birthday of sorts: I joined the CBA three years ago at my first Hobbs Grove Festival. My, how things have turned 180 degrees since then! Like most newcomers, I recall attending CBA functions very cautiously, looking for folks that might be also new. Perhaps we could cling together like the shipwrecked mariners I’ve read about, linking arms in a tight circle, keeping each other afloat in rough seas. Of course, the seas were smooth and calm (I’m sure you’re wondering just how far this guy can extend a metaphor—which gives me an idea for a column!) and soon I was looking forward to future events and frequently checking the message board so I could hear from all my new pals.

An early misconception I had was that the CBA was run by a board of powerful, semi omniscient bluegrass beings bent on statewide bluegrass dominance—at least those were the rumors I heard whispered in hushed tones in some circles. I figured there had to be an office with at least a couple of full time staffers to manage the huge bankroll that was sure to be the CBA budget, for statewide bluegrass dominance cannot come cheap. Of course, the closest we have to corporate headquarters is Diana Donnelly’s dining room, where Board meetings are held, and Rick Cornish’s Blackberry. I was shocked, even embarrassed, to learn that the soft spoken, handle bar mustachioed gentleman I met at Grass Valley, or that gentle, hippie-souled lady who handed me a grilled cheese sandwich late one night at a festival jam were part of the so called cabal. As I slowly got to know the Board members, I learned that they were full time employees, entrepreneurs, parents and grandparents. In fact, the entire fabric of the CBA, every activity and function, is a cloth woven from the energies of dozens of volunteers.

It has certainly been an enlightening and fulfilling three years. I’ve made dozens of friends; gained greater insight and passion for a music I already loved, and have learned to make decent biscuits and gravy. What’s more, opportunities quickly opened by which I had the opportunity to give a little back to the community. I’ve been told that thousands of people access our CBA web site a day. By logical extension, thousands of you are probably reading our columns. It makes me wonder just how many new, potential picking friends are out there, just waiting for us to hook-up at a jam. It also makes me wonder how much more the Association could accomplish for the advancement of old time, bluegrass and gospel if just a tenth of our readership were to take one tiny step forward and volunteer even in the smallest way. The first step of course is becoming a member, and if you already are, then the next baby step forward is voting—either by the paper ballot in your Breakdown or electronically. By doing this, you are assuring that our election has a quorum and we can continue to move forward. As in any democratic institution, your ballot is your voice, so please stand and be heard.

As sure as I’m sitting here writing, September marks my bluegrass birthday. Please come on out and help me celebrate at the Hobbs Grove Festival ( September 24 through the 26. Remember the two for one deal with Larry Baker’s festival in Plymouth—go to his and get into ours free! I’d love to see some new faces and sit down to visit and pick with you.


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