Tag Archives: Bluegrass
In my recurring posts of youth in bluegrass music, I present the The Mizzone brothers, Johnny, Robbie and Tommy from New Jersey. They range in age from 9 to 13 and call themselves the Sleepy Man Banjo Boys (from a verse in Psalms). Pretty amazing stuff.
Slacker.com is a great internet radio station offering just about every genre of music for free, 24 hours a day. I listen to it on my computer in my office and also on my phone (Android).
Slacker is based here in the San Diego area. They contacted me several years ago and asked to serve as a music consultant for their bluegrass station.
From what I understand, that’s what makes Slacker different from other internet radio stations like Pandora. Each Slacker station is professionally programmed by someone who really knows something about the genre. It’s not programmed by a computer.
You can, however, create your own station by using Slacker’s computer. Just enter the name of your favorite recording artist and Slacker will create a customized radio station with music by your favorite plus others who are similar. You can skip songs you don’t want to hear or play songs over and over. It’s pretty cool.
Slacker is free, but the free version includes commercials. Pay a small fee and you can get rid of the commercials and do a few other things that you can’t do on the free version.
The bluegrass station is a sub-genre of Slacker’s “Country” station. Check it out and let me know what you think.
Lighthouse, the bluegrass band I play in (occasionally) reunited for a couple of performances in December.
The first was at the North County Bluegrass and Folk Club in Escondido, an annual tradition for us. The people there are always so generous with their enthusiasm for our music, and this year they not only brought us back for an encore but bought us out of CD’s. (Pity the poor souls who get a Lighthouse CD for Christmas!) But it felt good to play a full set of music with my bandmates. It has actually been a year since we did that last. We only played twice all last year, once in my backyard for Easter and another short appearance at College Avenue Baptist Church in August.
Our second performance was at Shadow Mountain Community Church, part of their annual “Shadow MountainChristmas” celebration/concert. We did three shows, performing one song titled “Follow the Light,” a Christmas song that I learned from the McLain Family Band about 35 years ago. In the concert, we followed a mariachi band (a first for us I think) and enjoyed jamming with them backstage in the dressing room. They couldn’t speak English very well but the language of music seemed to connect us pretty well. I can now pick out a little “La Bamba” on my banjo.
All in all, playing with Lighthouse has been one of the bright spots for me this Christmas season so far. This time of year seems to add so much stress and anxiety, with all the busyness and responsibilities that go with it (especially now that I’m on a church staff). But getting to play some music once again has brought some extra joy into the season for me.
What I need to do now is take some time to focus on the real source of our joy at Christmas, the child who came to us at Bethlehem. Curiously, I am finding that being on a church staff doesn’t automatically make that possible.
This has been a difficult year for Marci and me in many ways … yet also one with many blessings. I know that the shortest route to joy is the path of thanksgiving, so that’s where I must go. As I look back on the year, I see a new church and a new ministry, a new granddaughter (beautiful Layla!), a new kitchen (under rather trying circumstances but new nevertheless), new friends, new experiences (like attending junior high camp at Forest Home and watching our son do his thing), new books in print, new health insurance (Medicare!), and the list goes on. God is so good. The child who comes to us in the manger every year is not only our Savior, but a perfect picture of the goodness of God, the best of all his gifts to us. He is the source of our joy.
What brings you joy this Christmas?
One of my bluegrass music heroes died this week and along with the sadness that I have felt, I also have felt deep gratitude. Mitch Jayne was the senior member of the Dillards, a bluegrass band from Salem, Missouri that came to California in the early sixties, landed a job on the Andy Griffith TV show and played “The Darlin’ Family” on several episodes which probably are rerun somewhere in the world every day. They also recorded two LP’s for Elektra Records, “Backporch Bluegrass” and “Live, Almost” which in my opinion are two of the most important bluegrass records ever made.
Mitch played stand-up bass with the Dillards and was the band’s emcee. He was a wonderful storyteller and stand up comedian who had a wry self-deprecating sense of humor that always had audiences in stitches. ”We’re the Dillards and we’re hillbillies. I thought I’d better tell you that in case you thought we were the Budapest String Quartet.” he would say in his Ozarky accent while puffing on his pipe. I saw the Dillards in person more than once back in the sixties at folk clubs like the Ice House in Pasadena and I always laughed until I cried. I loved the music they made, but even more I think, I loved how the Dillards entertained. They had the whole package: great musicianship, great songs and a great stage show featuring Mitch’s stories and humor. I always credit the Dillards with being the band that hooked me on bluegrass music, but it’s not because they were the first bluegrass band I ever heard. My dad had several Flatt and Scruggs records around the house when I was a kid. I got hooked on the Dillards’ brand of bluegrass because it was just so much fun.
When my brothers and I formed our band “The Rice Kryspies” (and later, Brush Arbor) we pretended to be the Dillards and I tried to play the role of Mitch. I wanted to be Mitch in the worst way. I did my best to tell funny stories like Mitch and I even tried to pretend I was from the Ozarks too and talk with a southern accent. I didn’t even know where the Ozarks were. When I listen to early recordings of the Rice Kryspies now, it’s kind of embarrassing to hear how much of Mitch’s material I stole outright.
All that to say that I mourned Mitch’s death at age 80 this week. He had a big influence on me and I will always be grateful. Rest in peace Mitch.
One of KSON’s listeners made this sticker for his car, e-mailed it to the radio station and it was then forwarded to me. I really don’t know this person so I’m not sure what led him to do this. He either likes my radio show … or likes guitarist Tony Rice … or maybe he just likes to eat rice while listening to bluegrass? Whatever the reason, I think it’s pretty cool.
UPDATE: I received an e-mail from the 16-year-old girl who e-mailed the photo and she explains: ”My dad listens to your show every Sunday really loud. lol. He had that sticker made at a store down the street and wanted it to be an inside joke that only fans of the show would get. “
Every year on Father’s Day weekend, my two worlds (music and ministry) collide at Huck Finn’s Jubilee, the biggest bluegrass festival in Southern California. A couple years ago, it won the IBMA Award for “Bluegrass Event of the Year.” I’ve been attending this festival in Victorville, California for most of it’s 34 years (same age as my radio show) and it is always enjoyable despite the fact that the weather can sometimes be brutal. It’s usually too hot, but there was one year when we actually froze to death. We’re expecting hot weather this year.
For years I have served as stage announcer (emcee) for the festival on the main stage Saturday night and all day Sunday. I also conduct a nondenominational chapel service on Sunday morning which draws about 300 people or so who are camping for the weekend. My band Lighthouse provides the music and I get to preach a gospel message, usually with a Fathers Day theme. This year, I’m focusing on Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son which he told to illustrate the amazing grace and love of God the Father.
Marci and I are still stuck in a hotel, waiting for our house to be restored after the fire. Really, we’re waiting for our insurance company to pay for the work being done. Once that happens, we should be able to move back in. All of our belongings are being held for ransom it seems.
I’m hoping that being at Huck Finn will provide a little break from the stress this situation has caused us. I know we’re going to hear some good music!
Well, actually it was another bluegrass Easter at our house this year, but a major earthquake in Baja California (Mexico) had things “all shook up” for a few seconds. It happened while our band was playing the Cherokee Shuffle. Everyone looked a bit startled by the whole thing but we just kept on playing and everyone enjoyed the ride.
We were blessed with another beautiful day for our annual celebration of Easter. We are so grateful that Sunday was warm and sunny (75 degrees). The next day (Monday), a cold front came through and it rained all day.
This year marks the 30th year we have hosted our Easter party. Actually, we were afraid we wouldn’t be able to do it this year as we had some serious damage around our house from winter storms. But we finally decided to give it a shot about three weeks before Easter and it turned out to be one of the best ever with the earthquake adding an exclamation point to the festivities. He is risen indeed!
For more pictures, go here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wayne_rice/sets/72157623667669379/