Category Archives: Bluegrass
Last Saturday night on the Grand Ole Opry: Actor Jack Black with Sam Bush (mandolin), Jim Mills (banjo), Bryan Sutton (guitar), Stuart Duncan (fiddle), Charlie Haden (bass) and other all-star pickers … must have been a fun night at the Opry house. Ricky Skaggs, Del McCoury and Michael Martin Murphey were also on the show.
March 7, 1976. Gerald Ford was President. The Pittsburgh Steelers were Super Bowl champs. Rocky received the Oscar for best picture. A peanut farmer from Georgia was beginning his campaign for the presidency.
That’s also when a very nervous banjo player went on the air for the first time to play bluegrass music on San Diego’s #1 country radio station KSON.
Who would have believed I’d still be there 33 years later?
We’ve done some big anniversary celebrations over the years (like a big show at the East County Performing Arts Center in El Cajon on our 25th) but this year I’ll celebrate on the air with some old songs from the past 33 years. A lot of great bluegrass has been recorded during that time. Alison Krauss was only 4 years old when I started my radio show.
Thanks to all the folks at Lincoln Financial Media (who owns KSON now) for keeping me on all these years and to all the bluegrass music fans who have been so loyal for so long. It has been a lot of fun (and it still is!)
You can listen to my show online when it’s being broadcast (10 p.m. on Sunday night) or you can listen “on demand” at kson.com/bluegrass.
I play banjo in a bluegrass band called Lighthouse and we play every first Wednesday of the month at the Friendly Grounds Coffee House in Santee (9225 Carlton Hills Blvd.) from 7 to 9 p.m. Come on out and see us sometime. It’s free and a lot of fun.
UPDATE: we are not playing at the Friendly Grounds any longer (as of January 2010). If you’d like to see if and when we’re playing or get more information about Lighthouse, visit our web page.
Last year I acquired from my Aunt Mabel (age 90+) an old fiddle that belonged to her father (my grandfather Clay Powers) and before that, her grandfather (my great-grandfather). Actually I didn’t know that any of our ancestors on the Powers side (my mother’s family) were musicians. I always assumed the music in my family came more from my father’s side.
The fiddle came in an old home-made wooden “coffin case” that was damaged and the fiddle was not in playing condition when I got it. Inside the fiddle body was an inscription “Antonio Stradivarius 1740″ but it wasn’t really a Stradivarius violin. A google search confirmed that there were many Strad copies made in the 1800′s and almost all European violin-makers stamped the Stradivarius name on their violins.
Still, the fiddle looked nice (just needed repair) and it was a family heirloom. So I brought the fiddle home from Tennessee and had a luthier (violin-maker) in Bonsall restore it to playing condition. He also repaired the case. My plan was to give this treasure to my sister Mary (who plays fiddle) for Christmas but we didn’t get a chance to see her before Christmas this year … so I delivered the fiddle to her this past weekend and she was of course happy to get it.
The fiddle is not really in good enough shape to play regularly or in concert, but it sounds pretty good. Over the holidays I let the fiddle player in my bluegrass band, Tom Cunningham, play a couple of tunes on it just to see how it sounds. Marci shot a video: