Sunday, June 17, 2012

Local Info "Baystrings" (Bluegrass and Old-Timey Music)

There is a church about five blocks from my home here in Castro Valley (East S.F. Bay), California that is the location of the California State Old-Time Fiddler's Association, District 9 meetings. I noticed their small sign as I drive up Wisteria Lane and stopped by to see what they were all about. To my surprise there were as many guitars, banjos and mandolins as there were fiddles.

The meetings consist of several impromptu sessions where people gather and just play. Someone says a key and off they go. The session will have players that pass leads around as people desire or you can sit back and strum along. I don't see much sheet music and there are no handouts as far as the eye can see in the large auditorium. The thing with Old-Timey music is that you're frequently playing three chord songs -- this challenges me and inspires me to listen and watch others carefully.

There is also a formal sign up sheet for players, or groups. Each signee is allowed 3 songs so that the afternoon moves along. Since this is a fiddler's association gathering every performance is supposed to have a fiddler. Although, the first performer was solo accordian (Interesting that his first song was Aloha Oe'.) Later there was a solo guitar player. I don't think the rule is hard and fast but what an excellent opportunity to meet a fiddler or other musicians and learn to play along with other instruments.

I don't know much Old-Timey, Bluegrass or Old Country Favorites but I'd like to learn some. I have been listening to the soundtrack for the movie O' Brother Where Art Thou? and there are some good tunes there, such as: Man of Constant Sorrow, I'll Fly Away, Down to the River to Pray, Keep on the Sunny Side, You are My Sunshine. I thought it might be fun to study these songs as a starting point. Some are traditional Americana Gospel and you can learn them as just Americana if you wish.

There is also an amazingly long potluck spread. If you decide to join me be sure to share some good eats too. Expect to see about 100 people playin', lisnin' and sometimes just sittin' and jawin'. (All instruments are acoustic, no electric.)

The Specifics:
The Group is called "Bay Strings." from 1:30pm to 5:00pm
California State Old-Time Fiddler's Association, District 9
Meets: 4th Sunday of every month at the,
United Methodist Church 19806 Wisteria St., Castro Valley, CA
Contact: Ruth Ovelund (408) 867-1814

The next meeting is June 24, 2012

I am Weary Let Me Rest

Hard Times Come Again No More

My research: "Larry's Country Kitchen" 

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