Photo by Mike Melnyk







January 15, 2011



Welcome to the 121st, and final edition, of Carltone's Corner!


In one era and out the other. Besides being way late and shorter in length, this is an edition of the newsletter like no other. There are strung-out streamers, confetti, and empty Champagne bottles strewn about the Carltone World Headquarters here in downtown San Francisco. Not just because we are still commemorating (or, a bit more aptly, “crawling from the wreckage of”) the end of 2010, but also, as it turns out – at least for the time being – because the staff here has been celebrating the completion of the final edition of this esteemed publication. What began as an experiment on a tentative basis ten years ago to this very day has now run for a decade. But due to circumstances beyond our control, this is the last one, at least, for now. In short, real life has gotten in the way, and there is less and less time to write anymore, mostly due to day job commitments. It is possible that we may just be going on a hiatus, sabbatical, or whatever you want to call it. But for now, after hundreds of thousands of words and 217 editions (including mid-month updates, which did not come into being until January of 2002), this is the end. And, as luck (miracle or creative editing?) would have it, this issue has the exact same amount of words in it as the very first one. The FAX and telex machines have been unplugged, typewriters have gone silent, the transom has been shut, and the carrier pigeons have been set free. The end of an era has arrived.


On January 15, 2001, in volume one, number one, this is how the first newsletter began:


“For some time now I have been sending out email notes to you about various bluegrass, country and folk shows in and around Marin County. I do mailers for my Bluegrass Gold shows at Sweetwater, occasional related shows at Rancho Nicasio, the Marin bluegrass jam, and other noteworthy, non-mainstream music events that seldom get covered in the local press. Yet so many times I meet other people who say they did not know that any bluegrass or country stuff was happening in the North Bay. So my goal here is to help get the word out.”


Well, to quote a former U.S. president, “Mission accomplished!”


The first editions of the CC were sent out to around 50 people. By word of mouth (and by hustling folks at Sweetwater) the number of readers at one point reached over 1200 people. The logo and layout remained almost exactly the same, save for some minor tweaking and added links in the text. No paid ads were ever pursued or accepted, even though we were urged to do such many times in order to make money with this thing. But making money was never our intent, and we feel that such would have compromised the integrity of the newsletter. In short, the Corner has been nothing less than a labor of love.


And labor we did. What began as a two-page publication eventually averaged 9-10 pages, and untold hours of hard work went into each edition. Hours that, unfortunately, we no longer have at our disposal.


So it is time to get out the broom and vacuum cleaner, maybe recycle the bottles, put away the blinking lights, and try to start off the new year/decade with a clean slate. Maybe move on to other endeavors and, at the least, get some rest. Unlike disgraced politicos and over the hill athletes, we will not, however, be looking forward to spending time with our family. And contrary to rumors on Facebook and Twitter, we are not shutting down to attend the royal wedding in England, tour the world with Lady Googoo (or whatever her stage name is), and nor are we about to try out for Dancing With the Network Has-Beens.


We’d like to thank all of you for reading Carltone’s Corner over the years, and we are forever grateful to the many that helped spread the word about the newsletter. We have been sincerely humbled by the positive feedback that has come in along the way, as well as by some of the amazing stories about shows and such from people that we have met in person. It was these sorts of things that really kept us going well beyond the point of weariness and exhaustion. And special thanks go out to the countless musicians, artists, promoters, radio show hosts, club owners, etc., who have all worked to bring some fabulous shows and music to Marin and Sonoma Counties and beyond over the past decade.


As promised all along, your email address has never been used for anything other than this newsletter, and we will hold onto it in the event that, after a couple of months of idleness and debauchery, we decide to dust off the old Olivetti and fire up the old presses once again. Apologies to those who only recently signed on to our mailing list.


Some major events that came to pass over the past decade: The Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival began in SF’s Golden Gate Park in October 2001; the 142 Throckmorton Theatre opened in Mill Valley in 2003; Murphy Productions has been producing shows in various venues in Marin since the early part of the decade; in Mill Valley the legendary Sweetwater and Village Music record store both closed in September of 2007; the Larkspur Café Theatre in 2007 changed hands, became Sweetwater Station for a while, and then went dark in September of 2008; the long shuttered New George’s nightclub in downtown San Rafael reopened a couple of months ago and is now simply called George’s; Saylor’s Landing in Sausalito closed in 2007 and recently reopened as The Sea Horse; Sean Saylor opened a new place in Sausalito in 2007 called Saylor’s Restaurant; The Black Rose Pub closed in Santa Rosa in the summer of 2010; The Woods opened in Mill Valley in the summer of 2010.


For events happening on a weekly basis in Marin County go to Marin Music Vibe. For up to date bluegrass news check out the California Bluegrass Association and Northern California Bluegrass Society web sites. And for the latest in Americana and twang news, go to the Hicks With Sticks site.


On behalf of the entire staff – both real and imagined – here at Carltone World Headquarters, it is with much melancholy that we offer you a fond farewell as well as lots of luck in this year 2011. From the look of things, you are going to need it.


Happy trails to you, until we meet again…






Marin Bluegrass Jam, Northern California Bluegrass Society, California Bluegrass Association, Murphy Productions, Hicks With Sticks Twang Newsletter, North Bay Music Listings, North Bay Concerts, Schoenberg Guitars, Murphy’s Irish Pub, Country Music Television, Rancho Nicasio, The Magic Juju Concert Series,The Black Rose, San Francisco Folk Club, SF Bay Area Radio Stations, SF Celtic Music, 19 Broadway, Peri’s Silver Dollar Saloon, Iron Springs Pub, Rocker Oysterfeller’s, Marin Local Music Scene




Dave Wellhausen Recording, Allen Lam/Professional Audio, Sound Reinforcement and Location Recording, Lou Judson Intuitive Audio Live Sound and Recording Perfection, Hot Buttered Rum, Kimrea, Poor Man’s Whiskey, Amazing Grace Music, Bay Area Bluegrass Radio Shows, Lauralee Brown & Company, Bread and Roses


Larry's CD Reviews Bluegrass Gold
Favorite Links
CA Bluegrass Association
Three 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
North Bay Bluegrass Festival
Annual Fest
Stevie Coyle
Bard of Marin
Mike Melnyk Photography

This page updated 1/22/11