Kevin Russell 
Member since Dec 25, 2013


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Re: “Buckle Up

Thanks for the article Gabe. You place Frankie Boots in a line that includes Kate Woolf and other Sonoma County folk-country-bluegrass figures. And rightly so. Indeed there are a number of good local, younger bands that could be placed there: Driftwood, The Bootleg Honey's and Old Jawbone, to name a few.
And, just to fill in a bit more of that history, it's worth noting that Sonoma County was, indeed, a hotbed of those music's for many years. I moved here in 1978 hoping to secure the guitar chair in Kate Wolf's band (only to find Nina Gerber got there first) but what I discovered was a wealth of talent and band-playing opportunites. Bluegrass, in particular, was popular during this time. Between the well known bluegrass bands (Boothill, Eagle Ridge, HiJinks & The High Forehead Boys) and the Old-Time bands (too many to name) it seemed you could find really good acousticly driven music most nights of the week. In fact, I played bluegrass at a club, now long gone, on fourth street called Joe Frogger's every week. It was a wildly popular club, nightly over-run with fans of that music.
Among local acoustic musicians from that era, some of the names of the best of best remain vital today: Chris Carney, Layne Bowen, Evan Morgan, Ted Dutcher. And then there's Chip Dunbar. He was responsible for teaching many, many people the joy of banjo, guitar, mandolin and singing. Though he passed a few years ago Chip's legacy lives on with groups like The Mighty Chiplings, so named to honor their first important teacher in this music.
And we shouldn't forget important venue's like The Inn of the Beginning in Cotati; concert home to many of the important figures in acoustic music. I remember seeing David Grisman (with a fresh-faced young singer who went on to some Nashville noteriety: Vince Gill), David Bromberg, Doc Watson (who politely requested that folks refrain from smoking so he could sing), Norman Blake, and bay area bluegrass icon Laurie Lewis. I could go on.
So, yes, let's hoist a glass and honor those great musicians here in Sonoma County who have always entertained us, educated us and endured with us the comings and goings of fashions and the closure of clubs that support this music.
A final tip-of-the-hat to Sheila Groves down at the new Twin Oaks in Penngrove. Looks like country-bluegrass (ie Americana) may have a new home in Sonoma County.

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Posted by Kevin Russell on 12/25/2013 at 3:20 PM

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