Greetings to all of you! This being my fifth appearance here, I thought I should say a little about myself. When you get “older”, there are a lot of chapters in life to reflect back on, so it is a matter of “which little” do I choose today…. I guess the appropriate thing would be to share when I got “hooked on bluegrass”. I have thought about that question a lot, and the fact is… I’m not sure. For me, I see it more like seeds sewn over time. Not one main event. I expect to integrate many of my bluegrass experiences into future articles, of which some might be……seedy…(?).
So, a little about me…..….Recently, I decided to peruse the stacks of albums which I had stored and not listened to for twenty five years or more. Almost all the albums are rock, jazz, blues, and country. Just from viewing the album covers, some of the songs began playing in my head, and as music has a way of doing, vivid memories surfaced that might otherwise lay dormant. Memories of growing up in East Oakland, in a period when some of the best rock music in the country was emerging in the bay area. I remember hearing some of those bands in small venues like high schools gyms, before they went on to fill stadiums. Also an era of too many country legends to count. Ah…my worn out cowboy boots should still be hanging from the ceiling, over the dance floor at the Clayton Club… I should check on them…..
Then I came across one album that really caused me to take pause. It was probably the oldest, and one of the most weathered in the bunch. Flatt and Scruggs. Hard Travelin’. Could not find a date on it, but I think 1961 or 1962. I have not heard this album for nearly forty years. I am not sure where that album came from, but it ended up in my mother’s collection when I was a boy. I remember now that as a teenager, amidst the top 40 rock/pop music I routinely listened to, I played that Flatt and Scruggs album on our old stereo A LOT. The soulful singing, gripping ballads, and that solid banjo just captivated me, and gave me a high that was a different from any of the other music I listened to. I’ll have to take responsibility for most of the scratches….. Though that album ended up in my collection, it has remained out of sight, and not listened to since those early days… Now, years later, and having developed such a love for bluegrass, I can’t wait to listen to these bluegrass legends fill my soul again. My wife just bought me a new turntable, which we are going to hook up to the stereo so I can listen to my albums. In the meantime… Hey… I might be able to find the album or at least some of the songs on line………Naaaa…..I think I’d rather hear it with the scratches first…. So perhaps my late mother helped to preserve bluegrass for the next generation, by planting that first seed………..Hmmmm… pretty sneaky, mom…..
Back to the future….. Bluegrass has consumed the vast majority of my music life for over twenty years now. And after many years of reaping the benefits the CBA has afforded me and my family, I became compelled to give something back, and do what I can to help preserve bluegrass music, the CBA, and the bluegrass community we all cherish so much. That is why I volunteered to try my hand at writing columns. I will tell you that I am quite humbled to be sharing this stage with such damn good writers.
In fact, I even cast my votes for the Board of Directors this time, which shocked a lot of people. For me, the old adage “if the road doesn’t go in front of my house” has usually applied when it comes to voting. Meaning, if the reason for voting does not “directly” impact me, I just may not make it to the voting booth. That being said, a couple of years ago, when a redevelopment plan was introduced “for my town” which I did not all together agree with, I became very motivated. I spent many hours familiarizing myself with the plan (thick as a phone book of course), and devoted many a night at public forums speaking my piece, and networking with other members of the community.
Then I asked myself, isn’t the CBA and the bluegrass community a road past my property? Yes, it is. Fact is, if not enough people vote, we do not have a Board of Directors. If we do not have a Board of Directors, we have no CBA.
Then, it is not just a matter of voting. What direction do I want this organization to take in the future? What important decisions lie in front of us, and where do the candidates stand on those issues? That takes looking at each candidate’s statement.
After reading each candidates statement, I think every one of them should be commended for the thoughtfulness they put into their messages, their devotion to preserving bluegrass, and for being willing to make the enormous commitment and sacrifice that comes along with being a Board member. My hats off to every one of you! That being said, there ARE differences between the candidates. The members of our Board make decisions that impact the CBA in the future. By voting, you are taking part in that decision making. The purpose of this election is to extend decision-making to you. NOT VOTING also happens to be a decision.
The CBA Mission, which we hear repeated time and again, is to preserve bluegrass, old time and gospel music. Perhaps the big yellow button on the CBA Home Page “Click Here to Vote Online” should read “Click Here to Preserve Bluegrass and the CBA”.
Till the next time…..thanks for sharing a few moments of your Sunday with me.