Camping in the Snowies

Camping in the Snowies

Monday, August 25, 2014

Music 2014

I have been realizing that the last few months have been great for playing bluegrass and fiddle music.  It started with the New Years Jam at the White Tanks Park with members of the Arizona Bluegrass Association.  This was followed by a bluegrass jam and fish fry at the KC Hall in Glendale in early January.  It was fun to get acquainted with musicians from the Valley of the Sun.

We attendee Midwinter Festival in Denver in February, and got to jam with Mike Metzger, Brian Peel, Warrie Means, Robin Smith, Jack, etc.  I also jammed with Larry E. whom I had met in Arizona.  Mike and Brian were in North Platte in April for the festival at the fairgrounds. 

I wrote a new fiddle tune in May, and named it Kelly Reel after my friend Jay Kelly. In May we were in Atkinson and I got to play some tunes with Jay.  Jay was also at Springview for the Kenaston Jamboree where we played some great tunes with Vanessa Kenaston, Sharon Kenaston and Roger Kenaston. The bluegrass set on the stage at the jamboree was a real highlight.

We were in Omaha in June, and got to spend an evening visiting and playing with our old pals Jenni Wallace and Kathy and Jim Wood who still perform as Rivertown String Band.

The Black Hills Festival was in June, and I played with Mike Martin, the Merchant family, Rod Long, and Dan Seelye.  I wrote a new tune called Hollis Was Here while in the Black Hills.

In July I spent a couple of evenings with Warrie Means playing fiddle tunes.  Great fun!

Tom and Marilyn Bryan had a jam on in July, and I got to play with Stan and Tom.

We took a trip north in July and spent time fiddling with Kelly Wells. We also had a jam with her friends in Cody. We continued on to the Big Horn Mountain Festival and played with the McGehee family, Reid Buckley, Fred Buckley, Warrie Means Will MacLean, Jacob Means, etc.   I played guitar with Vern Billingsley on fiddle.  I first met Vern in the 1970s at the Ainsworth Festival in Nebraska.  A highlight of this festival was writing a new tune called Under the Cottonwoods, and then getting to immediately play it with Suzanne McGehee on old time banjo.

We continued on to Neligh, Nebraska for a reunion with my old band Sweet Corn.  John Wells, Jerry Schrader, Gloria Christiansen and I performed at the Ida County Fair in Ida Grove, Iowa.  The concert was arranged by Eric Wells, son of John and grandson of Jerry.  Great to see everyone and know that we could still sound pretty good!

At the end of July my Laramie fiddle band performed at Woods Landing Dance Hall.  Cedar and Flint performers that night were Hollis Marriott, Julia Obert, Pete Ellsworth, Liza Millett, Tom Bryan, Dave Mullens and me.

It was great fun to play some fiddle/banjo with Al Kalbfleisch We spent an afternoon with Al and Mary on the way to state fiddle.

The Wyoming State Fiddle Contest is in Douglas at the State Fair.   Kelly Wells and I got first in Twin Fiddle, and Kelly won the State Contest.  

Bill McKay and I played on Monday nights all summer at the Vee Bar Guest Ranch.  It is fun to provide live music for the guests on the wagon ride and at the steak fry.

Over the years I have learned from every one of the people mentioned above. It was great to play with people I have known for 40 years and with people that are pretty new to me.  What a wonderful musical adventure!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Wyoming State Fiddle Contest

The Wyoming State Fiddle Contest is held on the first weekend of the State Fair in Douglas Wyoming. The fairgrounds are located along the banks of the North Platte river which was running pretty full and fast for the time of year. 
We camped for free our first night at Douglas city park riverside. No hookups but free showers and a pretty view.

The next morning Dave and I walked a paved path along the river listening to the many birds in the lush shrubbery on the riverbank. Chokecherry and possibly buffalo berry plus another red berry that I had no name for were ripe so we scattered lots of birds as we passed. The path ended after about a mile and a half where benches overlooked the the river and a nice breeze cooled us off on this warm morning. 
While we were sitting there a pair of lazuli buntings flew by as did goldfinches, a bald eagle, western kingbirds and several vultures. What a great morning!

Douglas has the Jackalope as it's mascot, mythical or not. The bridge over the Platte was adorned with them.

We moved camp over to the fair campground and for only $25 a night we had full hookups and free but spotty wi-fi. By the time we left, the campground was teeming with huge fifth wheel trailers, some motor coaches, many bumper pull trailers and gigantic horse trailers with full living spaces for the well-heeled horse owner, their family plus the family dog or two. 
I watched some horse events and sheepdog trials and tramped around the fair while Dave was competing at the fiddle contest. We both had a good time.

The State Fair people were great to provide a good venue, lunch for the fiddlers both days plus trophies and cash prizes. After holding this contest in Shoshoni WY for years and years on Memorial Day weekend, the fiddle association seems to feel they have found a home again. 
Jamming happened on Saturday evening. 

Here Dave and Warrie are playing a tune as Celeste Johnson looks on. 

Laverne Billingsley playing fiddle, Dick Lefevre and Steve Martin listening.

Kelly Wells, the 2014 WY State Fiddle Champion, smiles as Dave and Warrie Means take off on another tune. Dave and Kelly took first place in twin fiddle and Dave and Warrie placed third in the no holds barred competition. Dave has a third place trophy in the state division. Warrie was named "favorite accompanist" for the contest.

We had a lovely drive home on I25 south of Douglas to Wheatland and through Sybille Canyon home to Laramie. The Wyoming landscape of high prairie and Laramie range looks as good as we have seen it in years, still green this late in summer. A hint of fall to come in the ripening cornfields near Wheatland and the prairie hay and alfalfa being baled all along the way.
Luci is again parked in her spot in front of our house and she eagerly awaits her new toilet seat cover lovingly made by Aunt Sandy.

All I can say is Wow!

Friday, August 8, 2014

On the way to the State Fair.....

We drove to Casper to see Al and Mary Kalbfleisch. The morning was sunny with a hint of fall in the air in Laramie. Shirley Basin was wide open but two spots of road work slowed us down a bit. 
The sun was beating down as we parked the Luci in front of The Kalbfleisch's home.
We were welcomed with open arms and hugs and happy hand clasps. It had been a long while since Dave and Al had shared tunes.
Al had Dave's latest tune "Under the Cottonwoods" worked out on his fancy open backed, custom made banjo. They played several tunes while Mary and I had a nice visit. 
They could have played all afternoon but Mary was getting tired so we said goodbye and headed to Douglas.
Here is Al and Dave playing "Shove the Pigs Foot a Little Farther into the Fire".