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    Friday MOLD columnist Larry Carlin in a photo from 1983 from the video of Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer

    Friday, November 28, 2014

    Jingle all the way. Today is so-called “Black Friday,” the day when normal mild-mannered people become crazed fools battling over Christmas gifts at their local big box stores. Some poor souls were forced to work on the Thanksgiving Holiday yesterday to satisfy the greedy needs of the corporate billionaires, and fools that Americans sometimes tend to be, many got started shopping a day early in order to what, be able to save a few dollars on items made in China by people working for slave wages? Ah yes, ‘tis the season to be jolly, indeed! Or so we are constantly being told. Here at Carltone World Headquarters, we always recommend giving the gift of music, such as CDs, books, concert tickets, or hey, how about a membership to the CBA? Talk about gifts that keep on giving year round!

    Worth repeating. This item was featured in last week’s column. If you haven’t purchased your holiday greeting cards yet, you can find no finer than Karen Cannon’s collection of bluegrass Christmas cards. Check them out here. Santa playing the doghouse bass and banjo? Simply the best.

    Reindeer man. For 31 years I had the pleasure of playing music with Dr. Elmo, the guy responsible for everyone’s favorite Christmas hit, “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer.” If you have never seen the video, check it out here, and look closely at the guy in the red robe and later, in the tuxedo. (The photo at the top of this column is a still of the author from the video in 1983.) While Elmo does not play out much anymore, this is his time of year to shine, and you can read an interview with him in the Marin Magazine.

    Hanging up his spikes for good. But fortunately, not his guitar picks. SF Giants third base coach Tim Flannery has decided to retire from the game, which is sad news for baseball fans, but good news for music fans. Because this means that he will be able to play more music. He has at least four CDs out that are a mix of country and bluegrass, and he is one prolific songwriter. Hey, since he won’t be on the road with the team anymore, maybe he can play Father’s Day?

    Christmas came early for one ex-giant Giant. SF Giants fans are morose about the fact that their third baseman, Pablo Sandoval, opted to leave the team for fame and fortune in Boston. The fans can’t understand how their beloved “Panda” could leave them behind. Get real, folks. Major League Baseball is a business, a weapon of mass distraction that gets your mind off the drudgery of daily life. If some factory across town were to offer you a lot more money to do the same job you are doing now, would you turn it down so as not to upset your co-workers? I didn’t think so. The upside of Sandoval leaving is that you can now purchase panda hats for a mere $8 each!

    All in the family. Some weeks back we mentioned the upcoming new CD by the Thompson Family – parents Richard and Linda, son Teddy, daughter Kami, and other in-laws – and the CD is now out, and it is a winner for fans of any members of this musical family. Check out this cool video on the making of the recording.

    Considering a career in the music biz? If so, you may want to check out a couple of links first. Watch this hilarious but sad video of Flo and Eddie (who were once part of The Turtles pop band from the ‘60s) as they describe the legal and financial nightmares that they had to deal with. And after you are done with that, read about The 13 Most Insidious, Pervasive Lies of the Modern Music Industry. Then start thinking of a new line of work…

    Bluegrass Buddha. The Tao of Bluegrass: A Portrait of Peter Rowan is a 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 will be a special showing of the film on December 11th at 7:30 p.m. at Down Home Music in El Cerrito that will also have Rowan and the director, Christine Funk, on hand to talk about the documentary. Admission is only $5. If you cannot make the screening, 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, and about the film screening, click here.

    Speaking of Rowan… If you want to see what a much younger Peter Rowan looked and sounded like 40+ years ago, then set some time aside to watch this half hour show of the band Muleskinner from 1973. Also in the band were David Grisman, Clarence White, Bill Keith, Richard Greene, and Stuart Schulman.

    For the love of the banjo. Renowned banjoists Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn not only make for a cute couple, their relationship was highlighted recently on the news show PBS NewHour, and you can watch the segment here. They are also performing twice today at the SF Jazz Center.

    Playing both kinds of music – country and western. The new Marin country band Blithedale Canyon has two gigs of note this weekend. On the 28th they will be playing outside in the beer garden at the Lagunitas Tap Room in Petaluma from 3-6 p.m. They have a great store filled with Lagunitas paraphenalia where you can do all of your holiday shopping. It’s a win/win for everyone! On Sunday the 30th the band will be playing at Rancho Nicasio in West Marin from 4-6 p.m. No cover at either place, great food, and kids are welcome. Blithedale Canyon is 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 Carl Tone on bass, Claudia Hampe on rhythm guitar, Gary Kaye on pedal steel, and Gary Bauman on electric guitar. Sweetwater offers fine food and drink at reasonable prices in a family-friendly atmosphere, and children are welcome.

    All hands on deck! Laurie Lewis and The Right Hands have been playing a Thanksgiving Weekend show at the Freight and Salvage in Berkeley for numerous years now, and you can see them there on the 29th. You can also read this nice story about them in yesterday’s SF Chronicle.

    Coming attractions. Dale Ann Bradley and Steve Gulley will play a house concert in Folsom on December 5th, the Redwood Bluegrass show in Los Altos on the 6th, at Trinity Methodist Church in Chico on the 7th, and at Don Quixote’s in Felton on the 8th. See Rob Ickes and Trey Hensley in Little River, CA, on December 7th, on the 8th in Cloverdale, in Upper Lake on the 9th, in Felton on the 11th, Culver City on the 12th, Del Mar on the 13th, and Sonora on the 14th. The Costanoa Winterfest will be happening in Pescadero (north of Santa Cruz) on December 13th, with bands such as the Naked Bootleggers, Bluegrass Roundup, the Brookdale Bluegrass Band, and the Rainy Day Ramblers. The David Grisman Bluegrass Experience, who will be playing at Father’s Day in 2015, will be playing 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 CBA’s Great 48 jam in Bakersfield is set for January 8-11th in 2015. 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.

    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 29th from 6:30-8 p.m. This show is titled Dale Ann and Steve, and it will feature an overview of the music of Ms. Bradley and Mr. Gulley to get you ready for next week’s duet shows.

    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.

    Man in the know from Music Row. Raconteur and music maven Randy Pitts of Nashville is this column’s frequent and knowledgeable commentator and CD reviewer. Here is a commentary and a musical discovery.

    11/22/14 “I just got back from The Station Inn, best show I've seen in ages. Featured artist was Robbie Fulks, the Jethro Burns of The New Millenium and more, with a backup band picked from the best in bluegrass in Music City (Shad Cobb, Noam Pikelny--he actually lives in Skokie, I think-- Chris Scruggs, and Aaron Till), with guest appearances by Ron Spears – I forgot what a great tenor singer he is until he joined the band for three numbers, AND he did a little Senor Wences style ventriloquism with only his fist as a prop as an unexpected bonus – and Chris Scruggs' mom, the fabulous if sometimes wacky Gail Davies. The band played for two hours straight, and I feel for folks who stumbled into The Station Inn for the first time tonight thinking they'd see something called bluegrass. Well, in a sense they did – but they will never see a show resembling this one at a bluegrass venue or festival ever...unless Robbie Fulks is booked there, and even then, it will be different than what transpired tonight. Endlessly inventive musically, he played old favorites like 'The Buck Starts Here' and 'Let's Kill Saturday Night,' showcased members of the band – Scruggs did a marvelous version of Red Foley's 'Tennessee Saturday Night' and his mom dueted with Robbie on 'Tupelo County Jail' and The Everly Brothers 'Problems' – but also broke out new songs such as the old-timey styled song about his 78-year-old banjo playing aunt and her new fiddle playing husband, who made fun of his Scruggs style playing at age ten when on a family visit. Doesn't sound promising, does it? Well, I'm here to tell worked. Perhaps best of all was his stream of consciousness encore about recent changes at The Station Inn neighborhood and audiences, from simple folk who play music of the soil to trendchasers who actualy eat in the tony restaurants surrounding the venerable old venue these days. You had to be there, but you weren't...I was. Oh, and I should mention that Doug Seegers, my odds on favorite for the Best New Artist Grammy, was in attendance as well, and digging it."

    Randog's Fabulous Finds Dept.11/24/2014
    Don Adams On His Way
    Atlantic LP 7280

    I found myself on lower Broadway in fabulous Music City, USA, last Saturday, and during my meanderings decided to duck into the venerable Lawrence Brothers record emporium. I'd recently had occasion to revisit an obsession of mine of nearly 40 years, involving a country singer named Don Adams, and decided to scrounge around in the store's stock of 45s. Eureka! There it was! In mint condition, a single, by the aforementioned Don Adams! I asked the head Lawrence brother if he knew anything about the fellow on the 45, and he said, "Not unless it's that Get Smart guy from TV," and I told him my tale, of seeing Johnny Paycheck and his band in Oakland, CA, in the '70s, when he was accompanied, among others, by steel guitar great Doug Jernigan and a tall bass playing harmony singer, named – Mr. Jernigan informed me quite recently – Don Adams. "Oh, the Adams Brothers, Don and his brother. Gary ‘Showhog’Adams were on that tour. They're from around Columbus, Ohio." This jogged Mr. Lawrence's memory, and he said, "Let's see...I used to have several of these," and proceeded to pull out a sealed album by Don Adams, with memorable liner notes by none other than Mr. Johnny Paycheck himself that begin, "I rarely comment on things, because I know very little about most things," but Johnny was hot in 1973, and nothing sells (sold) albums like liner notes by the stars...anyway, this album, on the short lived Atlantic Country label, is a gem, with Don playing and singing a mix of his own originals, country songs both familiar and unfamiliar, and one song by one B. Gordy and two other Gordys that is also on the single I acquired, pulled from the album, entitled "I'll Be Satisfied," b/w Johnny Horton's "All For The Love Of A Girl." The backup musicians are a mix of Muscle Shoals and Music City, including Jernigan, "Roadhog" Adams, and Weldon Myrick on steel on some cuts. And yeah, Don Adams sings everything to a fare thee well...turns out that he and various combinations of his brothers were also Jones Boys, along with Paycheck, George Jones' first road band...and Don is heavily featured on George Jones' incredible Live At Dancetown USA album put out by the English Ace label. Don was so good that he sang the Melba Montgomery parts live with George and also on Dancetown, and the CD version includes several lead vocals by him as well. So Saturday was a good day.

    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
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      So What's It Really Worth?
    Today's column from Bruce Campbell
    Friday, November 28, 2014

    (Today we repost Bruce Campbell’s ruminations from 2010, the day after Thanksgiving way, way back then. Just a reminder, we’ve still got two Welcome slots open…if you’d like to be considered for one, drop us a line.)

    Every once in a while, some enterprising person will calculate the market value for the sum total of the raw materials that make up a typical human body. It usually comes in at around $100, give or take a few pennies. But that’s not really accurate is it? The human body, and bluegrass, is really priceless isn’t it? Recent columns on the “worth” of bluegrass or bluegrass shows really got me thinking. This is one of my favorite subjects to ponder and debate.

    But in the most literal sense, the worth of any product a seller has is worth what the market (the buyer) will pay for it. So, today, in a rare fit of empathy, I’ve decided to try and see things from the point of view of those who pay for bluegrass.


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