From the Santa Ynez Valley News... Thursday, February 1, 2007
Taking The Chill Out Of A Saturday Night


It is said that one can hear foot-fall on the parquet floors of
the Grange Hall when no one is around. This must surely be the
memory of all the toe-tapping being done by audience members
at Peter Feldmann and The Very Lonesome Boys bluegrass concerts,
like the one held last Saturday night. The concert celebrated
their 10th anniversary of making music together.

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More than 80 serious bluegrass music lovers filled the hall on a damp and rainy night, and Feldmann and The Very Lonesome Boys immediately took the chill out of the air with their rapid, finger licking rendition of "Shenandoah Breakdown."

Bluegrass is a form of American roots music with its own roots in English, Irish and Scottish traditional music. It was particularly inspired by the Scottish-Irish immigrants of Appalaclua, as well as the music of rural African-Americans, jazz, and blues. Like jazz, bluegrass is played with each melody instrument switching off, playing improvised solos in turn while the others revert to backing, which can be a little tricky on the small stage at the Grange. This style is in contrast to old-time music, in which all instruments play the melody together or one instrument carries the lead throughout while the others provide accompaniment. According to Feldmann, who is passionate about the history of this genre, the style now known as bluegrass can be traced back to one man, Bill Monroe, the father of bluegrass, who started his group called the Blue Grass Boys in 1938. The name of the genre was derived from Monroe's band.

Feldmann and the Very Lonesome Boys played tunes by Monroe, Earl Scruggs, some standard songs and a number of tunes from the 1920's and 1930's. Some of the evening's selections were an old Irish tune "Whisky Before Breakfast" as well as "Jealous - Hearted Me," "Salt Creek," masterfully handled by David West on banjo, "Walking the Dog," and "My Dear Old Southern Home" complete with yodeling.

"We know more songs that nobody's ever heard of," joked Feldmann during one of his educational introductions. "If you have any requests, just write them on the back of a $20 bill."

"I've been listening to bluegrass music since graduate school in San Francisco. I really love the music and these musicians are the best", said Marian Schlinger. "I like the stories and the history that Peter shares with the audience about the songs."

Feldmann has been performing bluegrass, folk, and related music on the eight-string mandolin, guitar, banjo, and fiddle since the early 1960's. He is the fqunder of the Santa Barbara Old Time Fiddler's Convention and the original Bluebird Cafe in Santa Barbara, a music dub highly influential on the Southern California music scene. Feldmann's tribute CD to Uncle Dave Macon "Grey Cat On The Tennessee Farm" was named to the nation's Top Ten Bluegrass albums of 2005 by the Chicago Tribune.

The five-piece Very Lonesome Boys band include bassist Tom Lee, veteran of the Cache Valley Drifters and The Bluegrass Cardinals, Mike Nadolson, head of Tricopolis Records in Orange County on the Martin flat-top guitar, David West (Play Ball Productions,) on banjo, who is also known for his song writing and engineering skills, and Tommy Marton on the fiddle.

During intermission eight grade students from Dunn School held a fund-raiser, selling refreshments and cookies made by the students. The funds will go toward an after school program for children in need in Oakland.

"We've played in front of 7,000 screaming kids, for the Rancheros Visitadores, and at gigs all over Southern and Central California at festivals, clubs and college concerts, but there is something special about playing at the Grange. It seems closer to the music somehow," said Feldmann.

The group received a standing ovation from the audience and, in turn, graced them with an encore.

"I loved the event," said Al Chevez. "Freight Train Boogie" by Tom Lee was my favorite. I brought nine friends along with me tonight and we all had a great time."

For more information on Feldmann and The Very Lonesome Boys or on bluegrass music go to www.BlueGrassWest.com.