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    Hits since 11PM MT

    Wednesday, December 17, 2014

    Well, it's Mold Man's turn today and, folks, I got nothin' for you. I've written two Mold News that haven't been posted because of the web site problems, both were time sensitive and, hence neither can run. I'd been told we'd be unable to post images till at least Friday so, again, I got caught short. We'll leave my partner's up till I return on Monday. Merry early Christmas. MM

    Friday MOLD columnist Larry Carlin

    Monday, December 15, 2014

    Editor's note: the CBA web site is still having some technical difficulties, some of which prevented Mold Man from posting his normal Monday column. Below is a modified version of Friday MOLD columnist Larry Carlin's most recent column

    Strawberry to return to Grass Valley. The word is officially out. The Strawberry Music Festival will return to the Nevada County Fairgrounds over Memorial Day Weekend in 2015. As you may recall, a fire near Camp Mather in 2013 forced the cancellation of the Labor Day Weekend festival up there, and this year the fest was moved to Grass Valley in early-September. They will be returning to the fairgrounds May 21st-24th, with no word yet on whether or not there will be another fall fest. You can read the official announcement from November 26th here. On the 11th Strawberry posted a follow-up, talking about their unlikely return to Camp Mather, and you can read that post here.

    Life's railway to heaven. Dawn Sears, the incredible Nashville singer who was part of the Time Jumpers and also sang in Vince Gill's band, died on the 11th from lung cancer at age 53. You can read her obit here, and you should watch her singing her signature song " Sweet Memories" and her rendition of " If You're Gonna Do Me Wrong, Do It Right."

    The gift that keeps on giving. Still making out your list and checking it twice? Here at Carltone World Headquarters we always recommend giving the gift of music, such as CDs, books, concert tickets, or even a membership to the CBA.

    “Silver bells, it’s Christmas time in the city.” Here is a great music buy for lovers of the Dobro: Three Bells, by Rob Ickes, Jerry Douglas and the late Mike Auldridge. Read or listen to an NPR interview with Rob and Jerry here. And speaking of Auldridge, have a look at this tribute to him, with a very young Jerry to the right…

    Dueling banjos. No, not that version. We’re talking the contemporary edition, written and performed by the cutest (and possibly only) banjo couple on the planet, Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn. Check it out here.

    Stop smoking now! If you think smoking cigarettes is cool, and that you will quit a few years down the road, just listen to this interview with Joni Mitchell (or any Dave Alvin interview) to see what the cancer sticks can and will do your voice. Remember that beautiful high range she had back in the ‘70s? Well, now that she is in her 70s, that range is long gone, mostly due to 50+ years of smoking. Truly sad…

    Here’s to the fiddle that plays the tune. In case you missed it, there was a real nice segment about the making of violins in Cremona, Italy, on the CBS show 60 Minutes on the 7th that you can watch here.

    Just for the heck of it. Here are Doc and Merle Watson, along with T. Michael Coleman on bass, playing “Rangement Blues.” Thanks to Megan Lynch for sending this along via her mother Maria Nadauld.

    “It’s 1-2-3, what are we fighting for?” Ever wonder what the Top Ten Protest Songs were? Well, wonder no more. Here is a list from Rolling Stone.

    Dead men do tell tales. Fans of the Grateful Dead, take note. Two longtime Deadheads have new books out. Richard Loren, who once managed the band, chronicles the epic tour to Egypt in 1978 in High Notes. And Dead historian and publicist Dennis McNally’s new book – which is not about the Dead – is titled On Highway 61: Music, Race and the Evolution of Cultural Freedom.

    More good reads. It is getting close to that time of year for “best lists,” and the NY Times is already out with their recommendations for notable books of the year. Take a look here.

    Bluegrass Buddha. Last week there was mention in this space about The Tao of Bluegrass: A Portrait of Peter Rowan documentary that made its world premiere at the Mill Valley Film Festival last year. This is a wonderful film that documents the musical and spiritual life of Peter Rowan, the former Blue Grass Boy who also played at the CBA Father's Day Festival in Grass Valley in 2014. There was supposed to be a special showing of the film on the 11th at Down Home Music in El Cerrito, but that was postponed due to Thursday's massive storm. There is a great deal being offered by South 40 Films for the holidays whereby you can purchase your own copy of The Tao and get Peter’s latest CD Dharma Blues for just $35. Talk about great stocking stuffers! For more info on this deal, click here.

    Coming attractions. The David Grisman Bluegrass Experience, who will be playing at the CBA Father’s Day Fest in 2015, will be doing their annual post-Christmas show at the Freight and Salvage in Berkeley on December 27th, followed by High Country’s annual New Year’s Eve show there on the 31st. The Laurie Lewis and Kathy Kallick Sing the Songs of Vern & Ray show will be there on January 2nd, and you can also see The Tuttles with AJ Lee there on January 8th. The CBA’s Great 48 jam in Bakersfield is set for January 8-11th. On the 17th The Tuttles with AJ Lee will appear at the Redwood Bluegrass Associates show in Mountain View. It will be Adkins and Loudermilk playing A Night at the Grange in Morgan Hill on February 28th. Bluegrass on the River in Lake Havasu, AZ, on March 6th-8th, will feature Blue Highway, Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice, The Spinney Brothers, Larry Efaw & the Bluegrass Mountaineers, Karl Shiflett & Big Country, Adkins & Loudermilk, and more. The 14th Annual Sonoma Folk and Bluegrass Festival in Sebastopol is scheduled for March 15th. WinterWonderGrass in Squaw Valley on March 20th-22nd will have The Infamous Stringdusters, Greensky Bluegrass, Brothers Comatose, Front Country, The T Sisters, and more. Go to all of the links for complete info.

    The view from Nashvegas. On Fridays a popular regular feature in this column are the CD reviews and commentaries by Randy Pitts, the man in the know in Music City USA, a.k.a. Nashville. Here are two commentaries along with a review of a 45 RPM and a CD and to get you through the weekend.

    12/6/14 I witnessed the most amazing feat last Saturday night at the – I think – 18th Annual Bill Monroe Appreciation Night at The Station Inn. During his band's set, host Roland White left the stage during the twin fiddling on “Tallahassee,” went into the foyer to get a calendar so he could announce the date of Nashville Bluegrass Band's annual holiday country ham giveaway show, as it turned out – and arrived back on stage at exactly the right moment, to the split second, to launch into his mandolin break. A good time was had by all, from the Vicky Vaughn Band (Casey Campbell is more of a hoss on mandolin every time we see him) to Scott Shipley & The Model Prisoners (favorite band name of 2014), which included some real legends – Curtis Burch, Butch Robins, Dale Reno, Robert Bowlin and John Pennell (Union Station was his band; the band that launched Alison Krauss), and Pat Enright and Larry Stephenson, among others, made guest appearances. We had to leave after Donna Ulisse's band played a few numbers, and we didn't get to hear my buddy Wil (The Cobden Songbird). But we did get to chat a little. See ya next year, and thank again Roland, for keeping the flame a burnin'.

    12/8/2014 Earlier this week I listened to the Panhandle Country radio show for December 7, 2014, on KPFA, 94.1, in Berkeley, CA. For those of you that don't already do it, the most recent show would be a good place to begin making host Tom Diamant's excellent show a listening habit. It's only archived for two weeks (you can listen here), so get on the stick. Tom always plays a great mix of the music I like best. I've been listening to him since the late '70s, I guess, or whenever he started. He alternates every two weeks with Ray Edlund's excellent Pig in a Pen program. While Ray plays mostly bluegrass and/or old-time string band music, Tom plays a variety that includes country music from all eras (including the current stuff, if you can believe that – but sparingly – it better be good), including lots of bluegrass, but also the best of Western swing, Cajun music, country blues, Norteno and other traditional Mexican music, and the best of the new releases. Tom is quite knowledgeable about the music he presents, and as one-half of Kaleidoscope Records, he brought The David Grisman Quintet to the attention of the listening public – the original one – and also produced albums by Kate Wolf, Jethro Burns, Tiny Moore, the (groundbreaking) Good Ol’ Persons, and The Bob Wills Tiffany Transcriptions, among many other artists. So he knows his stuff. The show on the 7th (I sometimes listen live, but I watched a basketball game late Sunday afternoon) – just struck me as a particularly good and representative show. He presented David Thom and Avram Frankel live (as the duo Maverick), as well as a taped interview with members of Hot Rize pursuant to their recent album release, “Huckleberry Hornpipe” by Byron Berline from an old Country Gazette album of yore – which also features some jaw dropping vintage Clarence White – Michael Cleveland tearing up the old “OBS,” and, of course, my friends Trey Hensley and Rob Ickes, highlighting their current West Coast tour. And Mary Tilson's America's Back 40 show makes for an excellent lead-in to both Tom and Ray's shows. I'll be saying nice things about Ray and Mary in the days, weeks, months and years ahead...

    Randog's Fabulous Finds 12/9/2014
    Ellis and Bill – The Green Mountain Boys 45 RPM of My Little Home in West Virginia backed with Sleepy Eyed Joe
    RCA Victor 457-4905

    I have no idea where I bought this or even why, but I'm sure glad I did. According to Dick Spottswood's notes for Raw Fiddle, a wonderful anthology on Rounder, "My Little Home in West Virginia" was the much loved theme song for a legendary ‘50s country deejay, Lee Moore, "The Coffee Drinking Nighthawk" – he evidently played it through every night at the beginning of his overnight show, which might account for its appearance on 45 rpm – a rare old-time country fiddle tune to be found in this format. It is a sprightly, infectious fiddle tune of the kind that had long since lost favor with major labels in Nashville by the 1950s, but it and its flipside are really nice. Again, according to Spottswood, the fiddler, Ellis Hall, was a glassblower from Morganton, WV, who recorded only four sides, and Spottswood says he had a real gift for original melodies, which is evident in these two tunes. About Bill Addis on guitar, Mr. Spottswood has nothing to impart. Charles Grean, listed on bass, is a name familiar to those who collect country music from the ‘50s. He recorded with Chet Atkins, Homer & Jethro, et al, on their classic Stringdusters album, for instance. I'm pretty sure this is a rare item, if for no other reason than that I can't find it listed anywhere. And it's really good. The two CD Raw Fiddle album on Rounder is quite amazing as well.

    Randog's Daily Pick 12/10/2014
    Joe Maphis Country Guitar Goes to The Jimmy Dean Show
    Starday LP 373

    From 1966, this album sort of marks the occasion of a six-week run on the then very important nationally televised Jimmy Dean TV Show, a very big deal in some circles, evidently including the Starday promotion department. Despite the cover photo, which shows Joe playing his signature custom built two-neck Mosrite electric guitar, and despite the assertion in the liner notes that Joe "always" performs on said guitar, unless my ears deceive me, he is mostly playing an acoustic guitar on this collection of mostly country instrumental standards, and he plays them fare-thee-well, though there is electric rhythm guitar and drums. There is also some fiddle accompaniment. Joe, who was born in Virginia but gained maximum fame and exposure in Southern California, was an early flatpicking fiend, and in fact was one of the first to transpose fiddle tunes to guitar, something he found handy in playing for dances back home. Best known now for his flash, speed, and mentoring of young Larry Collins of the Collins Kids on his patented Mosrite double-necked rig, and for playing on early records of Rick Nelson and Wanda Jackson and other rockabilly stars, Joe was also steeped in the early string-band music of his youth, as he proves here. He also backed his wife Rose Lee on her solo recordings, sometimes playing banjo, mandolin, and fiddle in addition to guitar. Rose, by the way, in her 90s, lives in Nashville, volunteers at The Country Music Hall Of Fame, and, as she proved at a concert during the opening of The Bakersfield Exhibit there, still possesses the strong right arm one develops when playing rhythm guitar with a guitarist like her husband. Tunes here include "Dixie Guitar," "Bonaparte's Guitar," – really “Retreat” – "Wildwood Flower," "Window Up Above," "Columbus Stockade," "Y'all Come," "Cannonball Guitar" – really “Rag” – "Bury Me Beneath the Willow," "Tennessee Guitar Polka," "Seasons of My Heart," "Maybelle," and "Under the Double Eagle." The 34-page instructional booklet mentioned on the jacket wasn't with my thrift shop copy.

    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.

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    Randy Pitts
    Wednesday, December 17, 2014

    Thoughts, sounds, and memories of the benefit for James King held at The Nashville Palace Monday night continue to swirl around in my mind this morning, two days later. James' musical peers in the music community came together in support of a comrade in need--as they always do in these instances-- and that was a heartening thing to see, particularly at this time of year, when the spirit of giving is supposed to prevail. The line up at the benefit would easily rival that of some of the better summer festivals I've attended over the years, featuring acts of the stature of JD Crowe w. Don Rigsby and Ricky Wasson, Doyle Lawson's crack band, The Grascals, and Marty Raybon, along with several other wonderful acts. The crowd, given that the benefit took place on a rainy Monday night as the holidays loom, a time when many people are consumed with shopping for friends and family and preparing for the busy season ahead. Saw lots of old friends and acquaintances from the bluegrass community in the crowd, plus a lot of familiar faces of people I don't know personally but that I know as members of this ever growing but still small and remarkably tight knit community. No doubt as many people from that community as could make it did so.

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