Well, I recently got myself joined up with another bluegrass band. I’m not really one to go joining bands all willy nilly. I have a good track record of sticking around in bands for a long time, so it’s important to me that everyone is easy-going, but takes professionalism as seriously as I do. And of course they need to be, you know, good. The folks in Red Dog Ash check those boxes for me.
How does this kind of thing happen to you? Well, for me, it’s almost the same story every time: Be careful who you sub for, they usually keep calling you back.
A few months ago, my friend Andy asked me to help him out with coaching a three-day Wernick Method workshop he was teaching. He needed a banjo coach for the class, so I recommended my friend Mark Peet. He’s an excellent banjo picker, and pretty fun to hang out with. I thought he would spice up the workshop, and Andy and the students did seem to dig him.
During the workshop, Mark asked if I could sub for a Davis Farmers Market gig his band had coming up. We threw together a rehearsal and ran some tunes. While I can hold my own at honky tonk, rockabilly, and swing, my entire bluegrass background is traditional. One might even say orthodox traditional. Red Dog Ash is a little more far out than I’m used to.
I made some recordings, banged out some charts, and got a pretty good handle on the stuff outside my wheel house in time for the show. When subbing in a band, you are inevitably going to have to play some songs you haven’t heard before. I’m always up for the challenge, but I have to admit, modern bluegrass seems pretty random to me at times.
The gig was HOT, but fun. While I certainly could have done better, I don’t think it was a very big deal for the setting. Luckily the band didn’t seem to think so either, and offered me a permanent spot!
I’m pretty excited to be playing for Red Dog Ash. I’ve always enjoyed playing with Mark and Julie, and it’s been great to get to know and pick with Jason and Gary over the past few months. The band has some incredible original tunes, and I’m learning some new tricks for music composition.
Keep an eye out for us around the California Central Valley!