2023-2024 Candidates for the CBA Board of Directors
Please read each candidate’s statement below and get your vote in by the deadline:
October 14, 2023 at 12 noon PDT
Read Phoebe’s statement
Karen Celia Heil
Read Karen’s statement
Read Ashley’s statement
Read Dave’s statement
Read Joel’s statement
Read Robin’s statement
Read Andrea’s statement
Read Pete’s statement
Read Lani’s statement
Read Tyler’s statement
Howdy CBA Friends! My name is Pete Ludé and I’m currently your CBA Chairman of the Board. After decades of being a CBA member, I joined the board four years ago, and was elected as Chair a year later. It’s been a fun and unexpected path: I joined CBA back in 2019 when life was “normal” (remember those days?). Soon, I was involved in navigating the pandemic, moving CBA into the digital world by leveraging my experience as a broadcast and cinema engineering professional. With our talented volunteer team, we somehow found a path toward bigger and brighter opportunities.
The most rewarding part has been working with so many talented and dedicated CBA volunteers toward fulfilling our mission. During this last year, we’ve seen the growth of a very successful Father’s Day Festival, and many local concert and jam events. We’ve nurtured our new programs to spread the word: Bluegrass Bridge – a program bringing Bluegrass to California State Prisons, and Global Connections – a platform for connecting Bluegrass fans around the world. And launched a new program – the Bluegrass Entertainer Artist Relief (BEAR) Fund for helping musicians affected by illness or incident. We’ve greatly expanded our monthly Bluegrass Breakdown newsletter, as well as our digital outreach via social media and a twice-monthly email blast. Membership has grown, we’ve got many new members, and we’re all having fun.
CBA’s famous youth program has expanded with the online Music Instructional program “Bluegrass Academy”. I’m particularly excited about the CBA youth programs since my daughter, Helen, was so positively impacted by being part of the Bluegrass world from early on. It’s been wonderful to see how the unifying force of music can be such an influence on the next generation.
There is still much to do, including improving our outreach and acknowledgement of our dedicated volunteer base and continuing improving our communications, promotion and event management activities. Most importantly, CBA is dedicated to finding ways to preserve and promote Bluegrass and Old Time music, including finding new fans, expanding our youth outreach, supporting artists and instructors and building a strong community. I will appreciate your vote for another term on the Board to continue these objectives.
My name is Tyler Stamets, and I am running for the Board of Directors of the California Bluegrass Association. I am an enthusiastic and active member of San Diego’s acoustic music community. I am a native of Julian, CA and a long-standing business owner there and serve as the President of Julian’s Chamber of Commerce. My extended family and I have been attendees at, and great supporters of, the Julian Family Fiddle Camp. I am excited that CBA has become the sponsoring organization of this important annual event. I believe as a board member I would be an asset to the CBA in continuing the positive relationship between the community of Julian, the CBA, and the Julian Family Fiddle Camp. I wish to be an active part in helping CBA achieve it’s mission to encourage appreciation understanding, enjoyment, support, and performance of bluegrass music statewide, especially in Southern California.
Hi! I’m Phoebe Leigh-Suelflow and I’m currently on the Board of Directors. I’m running for a second term, so I hope you’ll vote for me. Why? My job last year was to learn the basic chords and fingering. This year I’m hoping to expand to scales and maybe even take a few breaks.
I took on the Volunteer Coordinator position last year. I love what I’m doing. I hope you know me from Father’s Day Festival. I was very lucky because I think I had the absolute best job there. I got to meet and work with all of you, and together we got to make 2023 the best festival ever. If you didn’t join us this year, I hope you’ll consider volunteering next year. I know I learned a lot, especially from each one of you who volunteered. With your help, next year is going to be even better.
I love what bluegrass is: bluegrass and old-time is music to be shared. It’s about community. We like to get together to hear the music, to play music together, to be with other people who enjoy this music, and to invite others to join us in sharing our music. The music brings us together.
Community is so important that my goal on the Board is to make our community even better by communicating and inviting everyone in. Communicating involves listening, as well as keeping everyone informed. We can do this with the Breakdown, the CBA website, and targeted special interest and geographical emails that you can sign up for (such as news about happenings in your area). It also involves hearing your ideas on what the CBA should be doing. More jams? More concerts? More on-line events? More educational content on-line? Community also means coordinating with regional directors, and working with local groups with similar interests, like Camp and Strum, and other bluegrass associations so that we can combine our efforts. Our goals are the same: we want more bluegrass music!
Our community gets even stronger when we all volunteer. Volunteers contribute to making events successful, and volunteering is a great way to meet the very best people — other volunteers like us —- and to encourage new people to join us. I’m inviting everyone to get as involved as much as they want to be. Don’t be afraid — it doesn’t have to take a lot of time or special skills — we want you as you are! Your skill may be hosting a jam, or (like me) baking goodies for a jam (ask me for my Blueberry Boy Bait recipe), spreading the word about events, helping at the CBA table at a festival and talking with people about what we do, or welcoming a new member. A big part of my job is to make your volunteer experience as rewarding as it can be!
Here is my background: During the pandemic I started writing for the Breakdown and researching local bluegrass history. That led me to start the L.A. Bluegrass History Project Facebook group because I wanted to preserve our bluegrass heritage. We now have over 700 members. I’m active locally in the Dog Park Bluegrass Jam; and my husband Gerry and I co-host the Dog Park Jamkazam, which has been jamming online (yes, it can be done!) twice a week for at least three years. Despite the valiant efforts of many fine teachers, I remain a not-so-good fiddle player. But I’m dedicated. I did take my fiddle to Antarctica with me last year.
In a previous life I was an accountant and an attorney, wrote boring stuff for tax journals and practitioners’ manuals; and did pro bono work for Bet Tzedek and the Inglewood Legal Aid clinic, providing free legal services to the community. Although I’m happily retired and no longer spend my days talking with IRS auditors, I still get to work with finances. I’ve taken over the position of CBA Treasurer. I’m working with the Finance Committee to modernize our accounting system and make our financial reporting more transparent. Good books! That’s another reason to vote for me!
Please vote for me. And keep in touch – [email protected].
My name is Dave Gooding and I am running for re-election to the Board of Directors of the California Bluegrass Association.
It has been an honor and a labor of love serving on the board these many years. I have strived to represent you and your interests in this fine organization. If re-elected I will continue to work with your interests in mind
There have been many changes in the past few years. The Board has worked very hard (remotely) to keep interests going. Two TYRO broadcasts and the Jam a thon were great successes due to the hard work of many volunteers at the direction of the Board. Thanks to all that made these online events happen.
As we go forward I think we must stay current with the times we live in. Music evolves and as time goes on and newer more progressive sounds become a part of the Bluegrass world. I think we as an organization need to embrace these changes, while firmly attending to keeping the traditional sound alive, remembering where we come from. I truly believe there is plenty of room for both traditional and more progressive Bluegrass styles
I am in full support of our youth programs. The California Bluegrass Association has the finest youth programs in the country, you should be proud of that! I believe kids learn so much more than the music in our programs. They learn to interact with people from all socioeconomic classes and age groups. Studies prove grades in school improve with young musicians. Bottom line if they are around good folks, they learn good habits. Please continue to support all our youth programs.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. Make sure to vote, it’s YOUR CBA.
Greetings CBA Members!
I’m seeking my 4th term as a CBA Board member. What a year it has been! We have finally emerged from the clutches of the pandemic. Several successful in-person events, jams, and new venues continue to increase participation all over California, and our CBA Global Connections program continues to spread our reach Worldwide.
Some of my goals for the coming year are:
- Continue to collaborate with other like-minded music organizations and CBA Regional Directors in the diverse Southern California region to establish more programs, jams and events and encourage participation among all levels of pickers and grinners, especially young people.
- Continue to expand the CBA Photo Archive.
- Establish California as a destination for bluegrass, old-time, and gospel music by working with members, other non-profits, and venues to establish a network to support touring bands from all over California and other parts of the country, and publicize their events to increase audience participation.
Thank you for your consideration.
Long Beach, CA
As Summer 2022 comes to a close, our CBA board and volunteers continue to connect with and serve our CBA members by holding live gatherings and events, as well as by outreach online and in print. The board works to be even more relevant and engaging by keeping its stellar ongoing programs afloat, while creating additional projects into the future. This board has done impressive work! And there is more to be done.
As an Old Time musician/fiddle/guitar teacher residing in San Francisco, I have been involved in the California & West Coast Old Time communities and festivals for years. I bring this community’s voice to the board. Through my travels, I also consider myself a member of the Old Time music community in the Southeast, as well as in the greater U.S., and bring this wider connection to the Board.
I will continue my work as board liaison to the CBA’s Summer Music Camp, where I have worked for many years as an assistant and as an instructor, and helped steer the Camp through its leadership transition in 2022. I’ve been involved in many CBA San Francisco Chapter events, benefits, and dances. I am on the Board of the Berkeley Old Time Music Convention, and before covid, was involved in our thriving Square Dance scene. The CBA has work to do with diversity, equity and inclusion that I intend to be involved in as well.
I am a member of the Old Time band, The Bucking Mules, a multi- generational band with members living in Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and me here in California. Local bands I play in are Plaid Strangers, the Knuckle Knockers, and KC & the MooNshine Band.
My interests on the board include furthering the co-mingling and working relationship between the Old Time and Bluegrass communities by giving a voice to Old Time, promoting diversity and awareness of such in the CBA, creating a statewide network of Old Time musicians to further collective communication and Old Time participation in the CBA, promoting live music in communities, creating workable licensing scenarios for small venues in order to stop ASCAP/BMI predatory practices. Thank you for your support in the past and in the future!
Hello, my name is Ashley Readel and I’m excited to run for the CBA Board this fall! I am inspired by the energy and community that I’ve been a part of for so many years, and look forward to supporting bluegrass in California. About 10 years ago, I started my bluegrass journey picking in Bay Area jams. I played mandolin in Old Belle and currently play dobro in Solid Gold Stranger – both of which have played at CBA festivals. I am a kindergarten teacher and have served on committees that require listening, collaboration, and passion. I volunteered at the Father’s Day Festival last year, and am thrilled to have the opportunity to continue working to promote the CBA and its amazing programs and events.
Joel Keebler moved to Sacramento in 2019 from Blacksburg, Virginia. Over the years, he’s spent considerable time in Bristol and Floyd, Virginia, and lived in Poor Valley, just down the road from the Carter family.
Once upon a distant time, he was a member of The Stringbeans, who were voted Knoxville’s (Tennessee) Best Bluegrass Band. Other members of that unit became famous as Robinella and The Black Lilies. Joel is a big fan of the Del McCoury Band, Steve Martin, and We Banjo 3.
Joel formerly volunteered with various contra dance organizations in east Tennessee and southwestern Virginia. These days he is busy learning about all the great bluegrass and old-tyme music in California. Joel is a community college educator and lives in Sacramento with his wife and son.
I’m Lani Way and would appreciate your vote for a third term on the CBA Board. It’s an optimistic time for the CBA as we come back together as a community, and it’s been wonderful to have the chance to listen to your comments and suggestions in person at events like Father’s Day Festival.
I attended my first Bluegrass festival over 30 years ago. Throughout the years, I’ve attended music camps, played bass in the family band and raised children in the CBA youth programs. Creating the space for kids and young adults to develop the love of Bluegrass and Old Time through listening, playing and performing is embedded in the mission of the CBA. I’ve watched our youth develop as musicians, mentors, and community members. I’ve seen our pickers and professional musician help cultivate the next generation of bluegrass musicians. It is the strength of this multigenerational community that inspires my participation.
This year I’ve held various board positions and directed my efforts towards different areas of the organization. I am the acting Secretary, Chairman of the Fundraising committee, IBMA coordinator, and Chairman of the DEI committee. For the second year, I have secured substantial state funding to support our organization. These grants give us the opportunity to engage in community programs in more far-reaching ways.
I negotiated a new sponsorship agreement with the International Bluegrass Association and increased CBA’s support and visibility with the Kids on Bluegrass program in Raleigh, NC. We are proud that five of our young musicians have been selected to participate in IBMA’s KOB this year.
For Father’s Day Festival, I secured a new stage vendor, added new stage banners, and made sure that the backstage was handicap accessible. I also worked on festival promotion with outreach to DJs, print and online listings. It’s great to find ways to be useful in big and small ways.
This is a very active time for the CBA Board as we build our capacity to take on new initiatives and broaden our reach. I would be honored to have your vote.
Greetings CBA members,
My name is Andrea Zelones and I am running for my 2nd term on the CBA Board of Directors. When I was elected last year, I took on the role of Secretary. I also began actively participating in various CBA committees with goals of diversifying events in California and increasing membership and participation in CBA. I have been developing relationships and proactively promoting bluegrass and old-time music throughout California and encouraging K-12 participation at local jams and events.
I’m a current and active Member of CBA, San Diego Bluegrass Society (SDBS), North County Bluegrass & Folk Club (NCBFC), Southwest Bluegrass Association (SWBA), Songmakers, San Diego Mandolin Orchestra (SDMO), and Classical Mandolin Society of America (CMSA). I continue to hold board positions with other musical associations as well as CBA (NCBFC, Summergrass, SWBA, and SDMO).
Thank you for your consideration again this year.
San Diego, CA