Larry Carlin


Bluegrass Gold

Anniversary show welcomes new and familiar faces

By Matt Kramer
Pacific Sun
April 22, 2005

With this issue, a popular Marin musical series marks a milestone. This coming Tuesday the Sweetwater Saloon presents the sixth anniversary show for its Bluegrass Gold series. Hosted as always by our county's own Larry Carlin, the program promotes bluegrass and other acoustic music. Carlin can be seen and heard around the Bay Area as bassist and ringleader for Keystone Station, and in several other notable incarnations, including Keystone Crossing, Dr. Elmo, Wild Blue and The Warblers. In his monthly print and online newsletter, Carltone's Corner, Carlin entertains the music-minded masses with a tongue-in-cheek mixture of musical news, current events and a calendar of local shows. Congratulations to Larry Carlin, and Happy Anniversary to Bluegrass Gold! Next month the series reaches another milestone, but for now, let's get on with the show.

The Kathy Kallick Band adds a historical aspect to the celebration, because Kallick performed during the initial incarnation of Bluegrass Gold back in 1999. Quite recently, she played a set at the Sweetwater with John Reischman & The Jaybirds as her backup band. Since Paul Shelasky was on stage fiddling around, too, it was a bit of a Good Ol' Persons reunion. Besides working with the bands above, Kallick has recorded duets with Laurie Lewis and also issued some solo recordings. Last year's Reason and Rhyme (Copper Creek) features her folkier side and also boasts an all-star roster I don't have room to go into here.

So I'll get back to the Kathy Kallick Band, which has been playing together since 1996, with only one personnel addition (if my calculator is correct). The band has had songs included on compilations - including a 2003 collection Fresh Faces at MerleFest - and they've issued a couple of CDs of their own. The most current release, Warmer Kind of Blue (Copper Creek), is their first recording to include fiddler Brian Wicklund. It's an addition that seems to have upped the percentage of bluegrass in the band's countrified folk-grass mélange. The prolific Kallick penned eight of the disc's 15 tunes. But her bandmates pitch in, too, providing original material of their own and/or re-working time-tested classics. I gotta tip my hat to bassist Amy Stenberg for her vocal take on Don Gibson's "Just One Time." The entire band cooks on this recording. And they're even more fun live. Kallick strikes an easy rapport with her audience, sharing stories and sometimes a joke or two between tunes. It's obvious that this Bay Area band enjoys what it's doing, and that always enhances the experience for the audience.

Also on hand for the sixth anniversary celebration is a Colorado-based quintet called Hit & Run Bluegrass. This three-year-old band of relatively young musicians has already made a musical mark winning the 2002 Rockygrass Band Competition in Lyons, Colorado, and plucking first place at the 2003 Telluride Bluegrass Festival Band Contest. Hit & Run is the only band to have accomplished that feat.

I've been spinning their debut CD, Beauty Fades, for musical friends for a couple of weeks, and everyone's impressed. With their classic sound, instrumental virtuosity and energy, it's easy to see why these youngsters are creating crossover appeal. They've played the festivals above, jamming with bluegrass royalty. And they've also hit events such as California's High Sierra Music Festival, sharing the stage with jam bands Galactic and Medeski Martin & Wood. Tuesday marks their first Bay Area appearance. And it's an opportunity for us to greet the newcomers, welcome back local favorites and celebrate the anniversary of a stellar series.




Larry's CD Reviews Bluegrass Gold
Favorite Links
CA Bluegrass Association
3 decades of bluegrass in CA
Int'l. Bluegrass Music Assn.
Northern CA
Bluegrass Society

Formerly the Santa Cruz
Bluegrass Society
Murphy's Irish Pub
One of our favorite venues
Premier folk & acoustic venue
Hicks With Sticks
Bay Area Twang
SF Bluegrass & Old-Time Fest
Great annual festival
The Waybacks
Acoustic Mayhem
Dark Hollow
List of local bluegrass bands

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