How might I “sum up” the last 2 1/2 years during which I co-created a bluegrass band with my daughter? From starting out as a duo, doing early gigs with some of our musical friends Walter Webb & Randy McKean, connecting with our bassist Karl Chelette and becoming a trio, co-writing songs with wife/mother Juli Marks, and recording our album during the early days of COVID shelter in place. For me, it has been a time of magic for sure! I cannot begin to express in words what a meaningful experience this has all been for me. I am so grateful to have had this special musical connection with my daughter Mei Lin!
In my last blog post, I wrote about the making of Boston Ravine’s album “Ragged Road”. Our album was officially released last April. Now, months later, we are preparing for our much delayed CD release concerts. But this is also a bittersweet occasion, because these concerts are to be our “farewell” shows. From the day Mei Lin and I started Boston Ravine, I realized that this would be a very special – yet limited – space in time. I knew the day would come when she would be more than ready to branch off into other things!
Being able to connect with my daughter in her love for these deep streams of traditional American folk music – bluegrass, country, & gospel – through the creation of this collaborative band, has been one of the most rewarding creative endeavors of my life!
I will never forget the day that we first connected musically with our bassist Karl Chelette. We were at a bluegrass campout in Lodi back in the spring of 2019 which was put on by the California Bluegrass Association. We spotted Karl wheeling an upright bass across the campground. I knew who he was, as he used to play drums in a band with my friend Joe Fajen. I had no idea that he was also a bass player! We called him over to jam with us, and were instantly taken by his strong solid groove and friendly, fun manner. He played his first show with us at The Jerry Bash in August of 2019, and we never looked back from there! Karl is such a fine musician and generous soul. Mei Lin and I could not possibly be more pleased to have had him as a creative partner on this fun, crazy ride!
We are very happy to have our friend Kyle Kunert join us for both of these final Boston Ravine shows on banjo. Kyle is the founder of a fresh local Nevada County bluegrass band, Caltucky. He is deeply rooted in bluegrass and has a unique, soulful approach to the banjo. Kyle is such a great ensemble player and has a great ear! We are super stoked to have him as an honorary Boston Ravine member for these final shows.
It’s also a great honor for us to have our good friend Russell Roe joining us as our mandolin player for the 9/10 show in Grass Valley. Russ and I have been good friends since our college days at Cal State Long Beach. Russ was responsible for really turning me onto bluegrass back in the mid 90s. At that point, I was really enjoying Old & In the Way, but really did not have much other exposure to the true roots of bluegrass. Russ made me a cassette tape of his favorite tracks from Bill Monroe & the Bluegrass Boys. That was the beginning of so much for me! Years later, Russ was instrumental in helping to ignite Mei Lin’s love for bluegrass. Through the years, even after he moved to North Carolina, we would get to hang out with Russ and jam every summer at the California Bluegrass Association’s Father’s Day Festival. We are SO excited that he will be joining us for the Grass Valley gig and are so grateful that he decided to make the trek out here!
On my recent blogpost about the making of our album Ragged Road, I wrote about the soulful playing of dobro player Kathy Barwick. As I shared then, the Glen Campbell/Jeannie Seely song “Senses” is my favorite track off the record. I absolutely love the soulful interplay between Mei Lin’s voice and Kathy’s dobro. They created something extraordinary on that recording! We are super happy to announce that Kathy will be joining us as a special guest for our CD release show at Wild Eye Pub! She is such as wonderful player who we look up to and she has been so generously supportive to our band from the very beginning.
The 9/10/21 show at Wild Eye Pub really feels like a full circle moment to me. We played our very first show there in May of 2019. From the very start, Wild Eye owner Beth Moore has been so supportive of us and has run a top notch local music venue that feels like home to us! I know I speak for our entire local music scene in saying that she has given her very heart and soul to helping make the Nevada County music scene really shine!
So please join us for one of our final shows: – Wild Eye Pub in Grass Valley on 9/10/21 – Lodi Grape Festival on 9/18/21. We hope you will be able to celebrate with us!