The 6th Annual California Banjo Extravaganza
Featuring Charlie Cushman, Bob Carlin & Bill Evans
With Tim Stafford, John Reischman, Chad Manning & Sharon Gilchrist.
An All-Star Banjo & Bluegrass Event!
Sponsored by Elderly Instruments, Deering Banjos, Peghead Nation, Homespun Tapes, Mandolin Café, EMG Pickups & D’Addario
Each November, San Francisco Bay Area banjo player Bill Evans brings together some of the best banjo players in the world and combines them with an ace backup band featuring several West Coast favorites for a series of incredible concerts across northern California and an afternoon of workshops in Berkeley. This year’s annual northern California five-string banjo celebration features 2015 IBMA Banjo Player of the Year Charlie Cushman, North Carolina old-time banjo master Bob Carlin and, of course, California favorite Bill Evans. Joining this trio of banjo greats is their All-Star band, this year featuring 2017 IBMA Songwriter of the Year Tim Stafford (guitar) from the award-winning bluegrass band Blue Highway, John Reischman (mandolin), Chad Manning (fiddle), & Sharon Gilchrist (bass & mandolin) for an evening of bluegrass, old-time, and beyond, focusing on the many different ways music can be made on the five-string banjo.
Wednesday, November 8: Los Gatos, The Great Room, 24500 Miller Hill Road. Banjo experience at 4 p.m., dinner at 6 p.m., concert at 7:30 p.m. Hosts Robert Cornelius & Suzanne Suwanda open their home to the kick off concert! Dinner seating limited to 40 (there’s room for plenty more for the concert). Phone or text 408-655-3333 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for reservations. $30 concert, $20 dinner.
Thursday, November 9: Chico, Trinity United Methodist Church, 285 E 5th Street, 7 p.m. show, 6:30 p.m. doors. Tickets $20 advance / $22 at the door, on sale October 9 at Music Connection. Contact Lucy Smith at 530-894-1449 or email@example.com for tickets.
Friday, November 10: Winters (Sacramento area), Palms Playhouse, 13 Main Street, 8 p.m. show, doors at 7 p.m. Info and tickets at 530-795-1825, http://palmsplayhouse.com/
Saturday, November 11: Berkeley, CA, Freight and Salvage Coffeehouse, Banjo, Guitar & Mandolin Mini-Camp with Charlie Cushman, Bob Carlin, Bill Evans, John Reischman & Tim Stafford. 2020 Addison Street, 1 to 4:30 p.m. $70. http://www.thefreight.org/learn-to-play/workshops/
Saturday, November 11: Berkeley, CA, in concert at the Freight and Salvage Coffeehouse, 8 p.m. show, doors at 7 p.m. 2020 Addison Street. Tickets $36 in advance / $32 at the door. Info at http://www.thefreight.org/event/1501127-california-banjo-extravaganza-berkeley/
Sunday, November 12 (evening): Sebastopol, CA, Sebastopol Community Cultural Center Annex, 425 Morris Street, 8 p.m. concert, doors at 7:30 p.m. Contact Kevin Russell at 707-824-1858 or email Krussellmft@aol.com for info and tickets. Admission $22 advance, $25 at the door. Info at http://www.seb.org/event/3629854-california-banjo-extravaganza
About the musicians:
Charlie Cushman is best known these days as the banjo player in Jerry Douglas’ Flatt and Scruggs tribute band, called The Earls of Leicester. Most banjo players agree that Charlie is not only the most skilled Earl Scruggs stylist but also probably knows more about Don Reno’s banjo playing than anyone else today. That’s a powerful combination! These qualifications, along with many years of recorded appearances with artists as diverse as Joe Diffie, Sam Bush, Michael Cleveland & Tim O’Brien, earned Charlie the coveted International Bluegrass Music Association Banjo Player of the Year award in 2015.
North Carolina old-time banjo player Bob Carlin is probably the best-known clawhammer player performing today and has spread the art of Southern old-time banjo to more people than perhaps any other player in the world. A mainstay of the John Hartford String Band with several Rounder Records solo albums also to his credit, Bob is also known as a producer, teacher and researcher of Southern music and banjo styles. His books include The Birth of the Banjo: Joel Walker Sweeney and Early Minstrelsy and Strings Bands in the North Carolina Piedmont. He is a three-time Frets magazine poll winner.
San Francisco Bay Area musician Bill Evans curates the California Banjo Extravaganza each year. Bill has spent a lifetime bringing together folks who love and play the five-string banjo. His books Bluegrass Banjo For Dummies and Banjo For Dummies are among the most popular instructional books in the world. His most recent recorded project is Songs That Are Mostly Older Than Us with Fletcher Bright and Norman and Nancy Blake. These days, you’ll find Bill performing with his solo show The Banjo in America and with flatpicking legend Dan Crary and bass player Wally Barnick. Over the last fifteen years, he has performed with David Bromberg, David Grisman, Peter Rowan, the Steep Canyon Rangers, J. D. Crowe, Kathy Kallick, Claire Lynch and Jody Stecher, among many others. His Freight Bluegrass Jam Classes are the most popular ensemble classes in California and his monthly free shows in Kensington with Bangers & Grass, now spanning seven years, attract audiences from all over the world.
Joining the All-Star Band this year is the 2017 IBMA Songwriter of the Year and Blue Highway band member Tim Stafford. A native of Kingsport, TN, Tim is also known for his playing and singing as a member of Alison Krauss & Union Station and countless studio sessions with artists such as Jorma Kaukonen, Willie Nelson, Tony Trischka and Kenny Chesney. He’s one of the world’s most skilled bluegrass guitarists and has over 225 original recorded songs to his credit. His brand new CD is Acoustic Guitar, featuring 13 original instrumentals and the song “I Am America,” and he is the author of Still Inside: The Tony Rice Story, the critically-acclaimed authorized biography of this important guitarist.
John Reischman is one of the premier mandolinists of his generation: an understated visionary whose music is virtuosic without ever being flashy and who is renowned for his impeccable taste and tone. A Juno-nominated and Grammy award-winning artist, John is a founding member of California’s Good Old Persons who is also celebrated for his work with the Tony Rice Unit as well as leading his own band John Reischman & The Jaybirds.
Chad Manning is flat out one of the best fiddlers in the world, plain and simple. These days, Chad along with his wife Catherine, teaches hundreds of folks out of the Manning Music studio in Berkeley. In addition, Chad performs with the David Grisman Bluegrass Experience, the David Grisman Sextet and Bangers & Grass, featuring Bill Evans and Jim Nunally. Along with John, Bill and Sharon, Chad also teaches online via Peghead Nation (www.pegheadnation.com).
Sharon Gilchrist (bass and mandolin) performs regularly with John Reischman and guitarist Scott Nygaard, in addition playing with Scott Law and the Bay Area-based band The Flatliners, which includes Keith Little and Avram Siegel. She is also known for her work with Peter Rowan & Tony Rice and the old-time band Uncle Earl.
What folks are saying about these musicians:
Charlie Cushman: “It’s as if the revered band was brought back and placed in a modern studio with all of the technology available to really make them shine once again. Charlie Cushman can play Earl as all of the others can play their respective parts. If you love Earl and Lester and the Foggy Mountain Boys, they live on here. The tension, the release, the drive, that soul, all live here in tribute.” Bluegrass Unlimited review of “The Earls of Leicester” (Rounder Records).
Bob Carlin: “Bob Carlin has done much to advance traditional banjo. Perhaps more importantly, he has also done much to keep it the same. Within the narrow ranges of sonority and texture in the banjo, Carlin is ingenious and sensitive enough to find an expressive medium without overstepping the limitations of the style.” Frets magazine
Bill Evans: “Bill Evans does for the five-string banjo what Van Gogh did for color…treats it in a different way and then shares it with you. And his recent release “In Good Company” is a virtuoso master class in exploring bluegrass from the tradition to the far edges of alternative.” Tom Franks, FolkWords
John Reischman: “One of the true tone poets of American acoustic music…always placing the right note in the right place with the right tone and touch…throughout, Reischman’s full-throated mandolin never overplays or forces a point on the listener. The music is open, inviting, and engaging on multiple levels at once, telling musical stories without words like the birds in the tall pine trees or the waves upon the dark and rolling sea.” Acoustic Guitar magazine.
For Bill Evans (with Noam Pikelny and Joe Newberry on “A Prairie Home Companion”), “Arkansas Traveler”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2fyYs-dN5TM
For Charlie Cushman (with the Earls of Leicster) “Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_v5EW14wWM&list=RDpaKFesk53HQ&index=4
For Bob Carlin “Old Corn Liquor” Live at Fur Peace Ranch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=txzNtZsDQjY&list=PLJ4iQWRYs4xjoH-NP5dy2epM6aIocNW54
For Tim Stafford “I Am America” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPvjG13i8-0
For John Reischman, “Walk Along John to Kansas,” with Bruce Molsky & Allison de Groot: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yUaITM8O3L4
For Chad Manning, “Sally Goodin’” with the David Grisman Bluegrass Experience: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sjk2DDbh_Lc
For Sharon Gilchrist, “Squirrel Hunters” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=njXObuqrzgI
Charlie Cushman www.charliecushman.com
Bob Carlin: www.bobcarlinmusic.com
Tim Stafford: www.timstaffordguitar.com
Bill Evans http://www.billevansbanjo.com
John Reischman http://www.johnreischman.com
Chad Manning http://www.chadmanning.com
Media contact: Bill Evans, 510-520-7005, firstname.lastname@example.org
Good news, everyone! The California Bluegrass Association will have its first ever float in the SF Pride Parade this year. The SF Pride Parade is the biggest public event of the year in northern California, with over a million people in attendance and a worldwide appeal. A vast range of businesses, community nonprofits and arts organizations have found it to be an extremely efficient outreach event, offering the opportunity to engage with masses of potential supporters, regardless of age, gender or orientation, at a fraction of the cost of other, more traditional channels.
This year’s parade is Sunday, June 25. The San Francisco district of the CBA will be there on a flatbed truck decorated with attractive banners promoting bluegrass and old-time music and the CBA, and carrying a live band playing traditional music, plus a contingent walking alongside handing out CBA promo materials to the crowd.
Our presence in the Pride parade is part of a program of increasing the public visibility of bluegrass and old-time music through participation in mass public events, including the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival, the Sunday Streets program, and the Chinese New Year parade and the St. Patrick’s Day parade. Bluegrass and old-time music need all the exposure they can get, and this is a great opportunity to show people what we’re about!
Here’s the event page on Facebook!
Well, here we are in 2017, and not a moment too soon. But don’t get too comfortable: there’s a lot of picking to be done! First of all, the first-Sunday jam at Cleophus Quealy Beer Co. has been pushed back to the second Sunday (the 8th) just this once. So you can still get in on that if you were too, um, foggy on New Year’s day. I mostly use this jam as an excuse to get my growler refilled with some of Quealy’s delicious hoppy ale.
Some people who subscribe to Hipster Hoedown via their Google calendar are reporting that events are showing up with spam links in the body. No idea how this is happening; bear with us while we try to figure it out.
We’re back with our moveable bluegrass festival! This Sunday we’ll be picking on Valencia St. outside the legendary bluegrass mecca Amnesia Music Hall from about noon until about 3:30. You can RSVP or just show up! It’s the standard bluegrass jam model: take your turn to lead a song if you feel like it, and play along with others when it’s their turn. You mostly try to pick a song from the good old bluegrass repertoire, so you can be sure at least some people will know it. It’s all about the bluegrass, but if we’re lucky, an occasional friend will sit in on cajon or blues harp or something.
Sunday Streets is that thing where the city blocks off a stretch of a big street so people can hang out all over the pavement without having to dodge cars. All kinds of activities and entertainments come out of the woodwork and everybody has a great time. The California Bluegrass Association has been participating for a few years now. We’ve met all sorts of new friends, fans and pickers out there on the street. Kids, in particular, will sit and stare for a long time. We think some of them may go home afterwards and ask their parents for a banjo.
Hey! May Day in San Francisco! You can play all day, and then there’s more! This coming Sunday, May 1st, 2016, the monthly Sunday Streets bluegrass jam starts at noon (this month it’s in in the Bayview), followed by the weekly bluegrass jam from 4:00pm to 7:00pm at the Lucky Horseshoe Bar in Bernal Heights. Then, the Lucky Horseshoe Bar hosts the monthly Shoe Jam, from 8:00am to 10:00pm. It’s a party all day long!
Where do you spend Friday morning? If you’re like most of the people I know, you’re at your desk, thinking about what you need to get done before the beginning of the weekend. I got lucky last Friday morning; I took off from work, and joined seven other like-minded bluegrass pickers in the southwestern corner of San Francisco for the second Pomeroy Recreation and Rehabilitation Center bluegrass jam.
We spent ninety minutes of unadulterated pleasure, playing and singing for the folks at the center, students and staff alike.
The program was first organized by Ted Kuster, our San Francisco CBA representative, in collaboration with Julie Gallaudet, a Pomeroy Center staff member.
Julie discovered Ted with a group of bluegrass musicians jamming at the final 2015 Sunday Streets jam (also organized by Ted Kuster). She knew immediately that bluegrass music would make a major difference for the Pomeroy Center people, so she persuaded Ted to put it all together…and that made for the most fun I’ve had all week!
Jammers were Uncle Jim Letchworth on banjo and mandolin, Ted Kuster on banjo, Patti Garber on bass, Ron Esparza on fiddle and mandolin,
Virgil Stanford on dobro, Deirdre Donovan, Karen Gemmill, and Matt Lauer on guitar,
and Ellie DiBerardino on mandolin.
We’ll be doing it again soon…and you can play, too, if you want! Contact Ted Kuster to get on the list for one of the next Pomeroy jams.