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    Friday MOLD Columnist Larry Carlin covers all the basses

    Editor's note, Tuesday, September 30: Regular early-week columnist MOLD Man is rumored to be partying hearty at the IBMA hoedown in Raleigh, NC, this week. With any luck he will be sending occasional dispatches from the event. In the meantime Larry will be updating his column from last Friday throughout the week

    Tuesday, September 30, 2014

    World of bluegrass. That is what this week amounts to in two separate parts of the country. Late September and early October is quite an exciting time for bluegrass fans everywhere. Starting on the 30th and running through the 5th, the annual IBMA World of Bluegrass and Fanfest is happening in Raleigh, NC. Just about everybody that is anybody is in attendance, including many from the CBA. Their suite at the convention is the hot place to be, so check it out if you are there. MOLD Man himself is deeply embedded at the fest, and with any luck we will be receiving riveting reports from my column mate. Then, this weekend, the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival will once again be taking place in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park on the 3rd-5th, featuring Laurie Lewis & the Right Hands, Ralph Stanley & the Clinch Mountain Boys, Hot Rize, Emmylou Harris, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, and dozens more acts. The late philanthropist Warren Hellman set up an endowment fund to keep the music alive, and it promises to be another great time. It is free, and there is no other festival like it anywhere.

    IBMA awards. Speaking of the IBMA, the staff here at Carltone World Headquarters is pulling for local guitarist Molly Tuttle and weekly column contributor Randy Pitts to both win in their respective categories. Molly and her trio have been nominated in the Momentum Performance Award category, and Randy is in the running for Best Liner Notes for what he wrote for the James King recording Three Chords and The Truth. Here is what the modest Randog had to say on Facebook a few weeks back: “I just found out that my liner notes for James King's album Three Chords and The Truth was nominated for an award by the IBMA. Got to admit, it feels pretty good. But the album is a lot better than the liner notes; I did sweat over them, because I wanted to do the album justice...I hope I came close, and that isn't false modesty; it is a landmark album, and deserves a lot more attention from the gatekeepers than it has received. If you haven't heard it, do yourself, me, and James a favor and give it a GOOD listen. It is James at his best, and that is something...”

    Good golly, Miss Molly. Molly recently tried out a Martin D-18 guitar at Gryphon Guitars in Palo Alto, and you can watch her pick and sing here.

    Roundup jamming. On Wednesday the 1st Jeanie and Chuck Poling will be celebrating 13 years of their monthly bluegrass and country jam at the Plough and Stars, 116 Clement Street @ 2nd Avenue, in San Francisco. The time is 8:30–11 p.m., and it is free. You must be 21 and over to attend. They also posted this fabulous link of an audio slideshow (photos by Mike Melnyk) of their Hardly Strictly Anything Goes show from 2008.

    Old school country in Fairfax. On Wednesday the 1st, at 8 p.m. at the Iron Springs Brewery in Fairfax, see Blithedale Canyon, a melodious new country band from Marin County whose members are longtime friends with decades of experience playing various kinds of music. Imagine old-school country songs, bluegrass, and Western swing with a bit of old-time rock and roll, with three lead singers and mellifluous three-part harmonies, and you’ll have a good idea of what to expect from this exciting new quartet. The members are Claudia Hampe on rhythm guitar, Gary Kaye on pedal steel, Gary Bauman on electric guitar, and yours truly on bass. Iron Springs offers fine food and hand-crafted beers at reasonable prices in a family-friendly atmosphere. There is no cover, and children are welcome.

    Cutting some rug. Are you a vidiot that simply can’t get enough of the show Dancing With the Network Has-Beens? Or do you fancy yourself a modern day Fred Astaire or Ginger Rogers? Well, dream on. If you want to see some real dancing, check out this video of the peacock spider. He has to do some real fancy moves if he wants to make any hay with the ladies…

    One cool lunch box. Do you want little Biff or Muffy to be the hit of their grade school class? Then get them one of these lunch boxes now! Heck, get one for yourself, too, while you are at it! Your workmates will be jealous. And here is something for your man cave.Thanks to reader Linda Rust for the lunchbox tip.

    All in the family. The Thompson family got together to make a record! No, we’re not talking Berkeley’s Eric, Suzy and Allegra Thompson. We’re talking Richard, Linda, Teddy and more. The album is titled Family, and it will be released in November. You can listen to a sneak preview of it here.

    Gotta get to the gig on time! While I have had the occasional difficulty getting to a gig at times over the past 40 years of playing, I never had to do anything close to what these guys had to do. As the saying goes, where there is a will…

    Fit to a T. The T Sisters were a big hit at the recent Strawberry Music Festival, they have a new CD out that was produced by Laurie Lewis, and there is this cool video of them. They also sang the National Anthem at the Giants/Padres game last Friday.

    Tribute to Chet. Last name not needed here, as you know who I am talking about already. It has been 60 years since Mr. C and Gretsch Guitars hooked up, and there is this really nice video tribute, hosted by Steve Wariner with many guitarists being interviewed, that you should check out.

    Richard Smith on guitar. “The most amazing guy I know on the guitar. He can play anything I know, only better,” supposedly said the aforementioned late guitarist Chet Atkins about Richard Smith, who is headed to CA next week. He will be playing all over the state, but a few shows in particular are the one at Schoenberg Guitars in Tiburon on the 2nd, at the Sebastopol Community Center on the 3rd, at the Coolwater Ranch on the 4th, and the Strumshop in Roseville on the 5th. Go to this link for complete tour info.

    Wall Street Americana. The recent Americana Music Festival Conference, which was dissected so superbly in this column last week by Randy Pitts, was also covered by that great music publication The Wall Street Journal. You can read their take on it here.

    Music is the best medicine. Just for the heck of it, here is a nice video of the song “Best Medicine” by the band The Stray Birds.

    Coming attractions. At the Yosemite Bug Rustic Mountain Resort you will want to check out The Yosemite Songwriting retreat on October 10th-13th, with an opening night concert featuring Peter Rowan, Terre Roche, Keith Greeninger, Jayme Kelly Curtis, and Ukulele Dick. Dawg & Del will be playing a hot duo show at the Rio Theatre in Santa Cruz on the 10th and at the Freight & Salvage in Berkeley on the 11th. Mark your calendars for the CBA Fall Campout from the 13th-19th in Lodi. The Pickin' in the Vines Bluegrass Festival, produced by L&S Productions, will be held Oct 17th-19th in Kingman, AZ, at the beautiful Stetson Winery, with Audie Blaylock & Redline and The Spinney Brothers, The Central Valley Boys, Snap Jackson & The Knock on Wood Players, The Get Down Boys, The Burnett Family, Chris Stuart & Janet Beazley, James Reams & The Barnstormers, and a reunion of Copperline, featuring Eric Uglum & Bud Bierhaus. The Britgrass Invasion show at Slim’s in SF on 10/23 will have Belle Monroe & Her Brewglass Boys, The T Sisters, The Beauty Operators, Rusty Stringfield, and more. The Hangtown Halloween Ball will be going on in Placerville on October 24th-26th at the El Dorado County Fairgrounds with Front Country, Paige Anderson & The Fearless Kin, Railroad Earth, Leftover Salmon, Poor Man’s Whiskey, Brothers Comatose, New Monsoon, and others. On November 7th-9th the Band Sessions series at the Yosemite Bug will feature Laurie Lewis & The Right Hands. The California Banjo Extravaganza, hosted by Bill Evans, will be happening from November 13th-16th at four NorCal venues. Go to all of the links for complete info.

    Turn your radio on. If you are looking for some bluegrass or many other kinds of acoustic music this weekend, just go to KALW (91.7 FM) bluegrass radio show host Peter Thompson’s Bluegrass Signal web site and you will have no trouble filling your social calendar. Be sure to tune in on Saturday the 4th from 6:30-8 p.m. This week’s show is titled Blue Grass Style,featuring a few songs about music from the true vine, as a reminder of the inspiration for this weekend's fester. Contributions from Laurie Lewis & Kathy Kallick ("Blue Grass Style"), Al Wood & The Smokey Ridge Boys ("Sing A Bluegrass Song"), Dave Evans ("My Bluegrass Memories"), Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver ("The Grass That I'm Playing Is Really Blue"), Rhonda Vincent (“All American Bluegrass Girl”), Gibson Brothers (“That Bluegrass Music”), Tommy Webb ("If It Weren't For Bluegrass Music I'd Go Crazy"), and many others.

    Music calendars. There are a handful of shows listed in this column today, but if you want to find out what kind of music is going on in your area, as stated above, look at Peter Thompson’s calendar or also check out the CBA or the Northern California Bluegrass Society event listings. Also, buy a Sunday SF Chronicle and hold on to the Pink Section all week.

    Nashville cat. Randy Pitts is the man with his ear and nose to the ground on the streets of Nashville. Each week he contributes bon mots and CD reviews. Here are two commentaries and one CD review.

    “'I've Always Had Integrity’ threatens to supplant ‘I've Always Been Country’ and ‘My Heart Tells Me To Return To My Roots’ as the rallying cry for aging Nashville artists dropped by major labels who go Americana. See this Tennessean column by Peter Cooper, who turns a 2005 assault threat from a then major label star into a story about American individuality, and well, creativity. Lee Ann Womack's signing to Sugar Hill is likely good news for fans of actual country music. I've always thought she had some of the best pipes in Nashville, but as for her music, well, her biggest song DID inspire one of my best titles, ‘I Hope You Lap Dance,’ but I wasn't able to follow through with an actual song in timely fashion...”

    “Robbie Fulks' version of ‘Trying To Love Two Women’ – and his explanation of how Sonny Throckmorton came to write the song on this YouTube video – made my day yesterday.’

    Randog's Daily Pick 9/25/2014
    J D Crowe, Doyle Lawson, and Paul Williams Old Friends Get Together
    Mountain Home CD MH 12922

    From 2010, this wonderful album features three of the greatest in bluegrass, including two members of the genre's Hall oF Fame, Crowe and Lawson, and one who surely will be soon, the great tenor and lead singer and mandolin player (and songwriter) Paul Williams, whose name is less familiar than those of his compatriots here only because for the last 40 ye.ars or so, he has labored largely in the field of bluegrass gospel. The two unifying factors here are the experience shared by all three of these titans of working for Jimmy Martin – and Paul Williams was Jimmy's brother in law as well – and the gospel repertoire featured here, consisting solely of songs these guys sang on stage with The King of Bluegrass himself over the years. These are the classics, folks – done in classical style. Crowe, of course, plays banjo in his inimitable, groundbreaking style, as well as lending his baritone vocals, Lawson plays guitar (and replicates Jimmy's licks admirably – the man was after all, one of the alltime greats on that instrument), while Paul Williams brings his soaring tenor voice to the mix – and he's a hoss on the mandolin, too. Talk about tone, time, and tempo...well, looky here, listen to this! Ben Isaacs plays bass and produced this album, Cia Cherryholmes added high harmony vocals, as did Sonya Isaacs, Ron Stewart played fiddle, and Harry Stinson added snare drums – Harry is one of the best in Nashville, a member of Marty Stuart's Fabulous Superlatives – and yes folks, the original Jimmy Martin recordings had drums on them. "Goodbye," "The Little White Church," "Stormy Waters," (epic!) "Pray The Clouds Away," "When The Savior Reached Down for Me," "This World Is Not My Home," "Voice Of My Savior," "Lord I'm Coming Home,” "Give Me Your Hand," "Shake Hands With Mother Again," and last but assuredly not least, the chilling "Who'll Sing For Me."

    Comments, questions, quips and tips? Send an email to For more info than you need to know about Friday MOLD columnist Larry Carlin, go to his Carltone web site. Missed a Friday MOLD? Don’t fret, just click here to read past columns.


    Our Welcome Columnists
    Welcome Column Archive
      The Elephant in the Bluegrass Living Room
    Today's column from David Lange
    Tuesday, September 30, 2014

    (Editor’s Note: On this fifth Tuesday of the month we reach back into our Welcome archive for a little piece produced by long-time welcomer David Lange. Beneath his good humor and wit, it’s clear that even as early as August, 2008, David had a fair to midland appreciation for the pile of economic dog doo the United States of America had just stepped into.)

    If you want to know the latest news on the economic problems, and how Americans are struggling to keep their head above water, don’t look to the CBA website or the Bluegrass Breakdown for answers. As prices for everything from fuel to milk have continued to skyrocket, the news and views in our bluegrass world continue to be business as usual; bluegrass. So am I complaining? Do we need to add a financial column to the CBA web Site? Oh heck no. I have enough resources to let me know how bad things are getting, and plenty of ideas about how to manage my life and my money as a result. Just give me my bluegrass escape please!

    Ah, but then, on August 5th, Rick Cornish, all in jest, teased that economic elephant in the bluegrass living room with his column “Weathering the financial malaise.” It is a must read if you have not read it. While his suggestions for bringing in more revenue at our Fathers Day Festival were only intended as fun and entertainment, I could not help but wonder if subconsciously, he knew that down the road, there may be a need for some real creative thinking, and some sacrifice in order to sustain “bluegrass as usual.” So, I decided to take the subject a little further…….

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