Bluegrass Corner

Sideline Is Coming to San Diego!

One of bluegrass music’s true super groups, Sideline is the project of star musicians from other high-powered groups coming together to just nail traditional bluegrass music. Sideline is: Steve Dilling on banjo and vocals (Russell Moore and IIIrd Tyme Out), Skip Cherryholmes on guitar and vocals (The Cherryholmes), Darrell Webb on mandolin and vocals (The Darrell Webb band), Justen Haynes on fiddle (Mountain Heart), and Jason Moore on bass (Mountain Heart).

With their first album out, Session 1, Sideline has made a big mark in traditional Flatt and Scruggs and Bill Monroe-style traditional bluegrass. John Goad of Bluegrass Unlimited magazine says: There’s no doubt for one second of this album that the musicians here are talented. Dilling is a force to be reckoned with throughout the album, driving his banjo as hard as he can on almost every track, making this album a treat for fans of the five. Webb (mandolin), Haynes (fiddle), Skip Cherryholmes (guitar), and Jason Moore (bass) all contribute solid efforts both vocally and instrumentally as well.

Presented by the non-profit San Diego Bluegrass Society, the show will be held on Thursday, December 5 at 7pm at the First Baptist Church of Pacific Beach, 4747 Soledad Mountain Road in Pacific Beach. The show includes a 30-minute opening set by the Tail Draggers with Sideline coming on at 7:30pm. Admission is free, with donations solicited.

Great 48-Hour Jam in Bakersfield. Coming January 9-12 is the Great 48 Hour Jam in Bakersfield at the Doubletree Hotel. This fun event features band showcase performances, a band scramble, endless jamming, and suites hosted by bluegrass organizations, music stores, and luthiers from around the region. The SDBS will be there hosting a suite. Visit the California Bluegrass Association web site for more information at: www.cbaontheweb.org.

Special Consensus in San Diego. Coming on Thursday, January 16 is the SDBS presentation of Chicago’s Special Consensus bluegrass band. “Special C,” as they are called, will perform live at the First Baptist Church of Pacific Beach at 4747 Soledad Mountain Road in Pacific Beach. There will be a 30-minute opening by Rusty Gait with Special Consensus coming on at 7:30pm. Admission is free, with donations solicited. Prior shows in San Diego by Special C have been among the most popular ever presented by the SDBS.

The Dobro (Resonator Guitar) in Bluegrass. The resonator guitar, commonly known as the dobro, was invented in the 1920s by two Slovak brothers, the Dopyera brothers, and takes its name from them, combining the “do” “bro” from brothers. Originally used in Hawaiian-style slide music before electronic amplification was generally available, the Dopyera brothers built a guitar with a metal resonator inside, intended to reflect and amplify the guitar’s acoustic sound so it could hold its own and be heard along with other instruments. Of note, John Dopyera, one of the founding brothers, had a music store in Escondido for many years in the 1970s. Bashful Brother Oswald (real name, Beecher Ray Kirby) was the first to popularize the instrument in country music playing, along with Roy Acuff’s Smoky Mountain Boys, and later with Earl Scruggs and many others.

The first to really take the instrument to bluegrass was “Uncle” Josh Graves of the Flatt and Scruggs band. Graves, in many ways, did for the dobro what Earl Scruggs did for the banjo – he developed a whole new style of playing the instrument, incorporating a banjo-style roll from Earl Scruggs, along with blues influences from African-American musicians. Following Graves as a major dobro innovator was Mike Auldridge, who brought exquisite tone and a contemporary sound to the dobro that inspired the next generation of great players, including Jerry Douglas and Rob Ickes. Auldridge was a founding member of the Seldom Scene, and was a long-time collaborator with such artists as Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt

Current top practitioners of the dobro in bluegrass include Rob Ickes of Blue Highway and Three Ring Circle, the 15-time winner of IBMA’s coveted Dobro Player of the Year Award, and Jerry Douglas, a long-time member of Alison Krauss and Union Station featuring Jerry Douglas. These two top the modern dobro pile, but there are many others of note including Andy Hall of the Infamous Stringdusters, Randy Kohrs (Grammy Award-winning producer of Jim Lauderdale’s Bluegrass Diaries), and Michael Witcher of the Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band. Local standouts include Kim Weeks of Lighthouse and Robin Henkel.

ResoSummit. The dobro has come a long way since its early years. The seventh annual ResoSummit took place November 14-17 in Nashville, co-produced by Blue Highway’s Rob Ickes and Betty Wheeler of Del Mar. ResoSummit 2013 featured 13 top faculty members, including luthiers Tim Scheerhorn and Paul Beard, and 100 students from around the world, all studying dobro for three days of intensive classes plus nightly faculty concerts at Nashville’s Station Inn. The faculty was a veritable who’s who of dobro, including Rob Ickes, Andy Hall, Randy Kohrs, Phil Leadbetter, Michael Stockton and Flatt Lonesome, Sally Van Meter, Stacy Phillips, Orville Johnson, Michael Witcher, Ivan Rosenberg, and Billy Cardine. Visit  www.resosumit.com for more info.

Bill Monroe may have disliked the dobro, but there’s no doubt about it – the instrument has found its place in bluegrass music along with many other genres, and is here to stay.

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