These are excerpts from a documentary I made in 2005. It’s about playing in small bluegrass band.
“You know Cecilie I’m just calling because you are a friend of mine and I want to tell you that you have a pretzel in your ear.”
I was digging through some old video tapes and found this, from 1996. I took a video camera with me when I toured with the BYU folk dancers. I had the time of my life traveling around on a bus in Scandinavia with a bunch of college students.
I apologize in advance that not everyone from the tour is represented equally here. I wasn’t really thinking about that at the time. I was just filming people around me and they tended to be the ones that I knew a little better. In any case, I hope this brings back some good memories. I had forgotten a few things and it made me laugh out loud more than once.
I skipped work on a rainy autumn morning, strapped a video camera to the bumper of my truck and drove the Nebo Loop. Each image is a composite of several video stills. Created in 2004, I think.
Koosharem is a place in Utah. It’s out-of-the-way and unknown. I don’t even know if it qualifies as a town. In fact, I’m willing to entertain the idea that it’s not a real place, but just a distant memory or a dream.
On September 6, 2008 we loaded Trent’s SUV with banjos, mandolins, and other instruments and drove to Koosharem. It was for a wedding gig, outdoors, in the middle of nowhere– the kind of gig that reminds us why we’re in a bluegrass band. There were 5 of us crowded in a small vehicle. We listened to music and talked as we traveled thru small towns.
Our band name was Miles To Go, a fitting name now that I think about it. Traveling is one of the blessings of bluegrass. But there are other benefits too:
- Tons of super good barbecue.
- No one cares if you actually know how to play.
- You get fantastic ideas for how to put on a beautiful, memorable wedding.
We followed hand-made signs. Some of them made us laugh. They led us down dirt roads and eventually to the wedding site: an open field in the middle of ranch-country. Food was prepared while we set up our sound equipment. There were strings of paper lanterns and lights. There were wood crates and coke bottle vases, a celebration of wild flowers. Glass jars with tealight candles hung from an old tree. There was a wooden dance floor on the ground in front of us.
It seemed like the perfect place at the perfect time. The distant mountains were in silhouette. The setting sun turned everything to gold. We felt the first refreshing air of autumn as the sun disappeared completely and the sky filled with stars.
We played traditional tunes while people visited and danced. I remember Cassie and the bride sang Blackbird. I remember realizing too late that the arrangement I knew was non-standard and would probably throw them off. I remember that we had to play for longer than normal, which meant we got to try out a bunch of songs that weren’t quite ready. Tamilisa improvised on mandolin while I tried out my newly discovered classical-steel-string-banjo-guitar and sang, “One morning, one morning, one morning in May.”
We ate dinner on a picnic table in darkness. There was very little light from a nearby lantern. That’s the best way to eat barbecue, when you can’t see what’s on your plate. You just dish spoonfuls of bean/corn/spare rib surprise into your mouth: wave upon wave of sweetened tomato sauce deliciousness.
Thinking about Koosharem makes me hungry and nostalgic. I’ll probably never return. But at least I have a souvenir to help me remember. It’s a drink holder that says “Eat, Drink, and be Married! Rickenbach Ranch, Koosharem, Utah, USA.”
Pictured above, Miles To Go (in 2008) was Geoff Groberg, Tamilisa Wood (now Miner), Cassie Singley (now Gadd), Trent McCausland, Hillary Barlow (now Harris). All the beautiful photos in this post were taken by ?, the wedding photographer.
I redesigned the blog, again. I’m trying to simplify. Also, Goudy Oldstyle is cool.
A very short video snippet featuring Isaac and Mark Geslison.
In October 2012 we had a bluegrass gig in Lund, Nevada. What? You’ve never heard of Lund?! It’s a tiny town in the middle of a desert. The drive there can be kind of spectacular.
A few fellow travelers on this fun road trip…
Unbelievable scenery on our way to a family reunion in Arizona…
One night, after the DH2013 sessions, I went out to grab some dinner. I sat on a bench. And then a homeless guy politely asked if he could sit down. (Of course you can! You’re homeless!) He carried a beat up guitar and was a fine musician. He had quite a few missing teeth. He wasn’t drunk. He was lucid and intelligent. He was introverted. So am I. We got along!
- He mused on how he has been able to avoid prison.
- He described 2 different types of marijuana and how they differed. He also brought up LSD and some other things, though not so light-heartedly. Too many lives have been obliterated.
- He shared a few experiences about police officers who went far beyond the call of duty to help him.
- He said he’d like to travel and see the U.K., but he knows he’ll probably never be able to. (“I live a pretty meager life.”)
- I was hungry and somehow we got on the topic of barbecuing. He gave me some tips. (He had a few jobs in the past working at restaurants.)
I bought a barbecue sandwich for me and for him. (He told me where to get them.) He puts out a jar and collects tips while he plays, but he said his favorite thing is when people comment on his music. It was a little strange, but actually kind of pleasant. He reminded me of a few people I once knew, but who are no longer with us. What an interesting evening! After all the Scholarship, Technology, and Digital Humanities talk, it really comes down to interesting people.