Summer is in full swing. Travel plans are folding over on themselves. Wifey and I haven’t left the area, but we’ve been on the road a lot. I’m dedicating this week’s installment to our recent whereabouts.
This storyline goes Hayward, Sacramento, Tahoe, Jackson, and home again.
For the fifth year Sue and I went with friends to the Hayward Russell City Blues Festival, two days of local and visiting musicians performing to a crowd of blues fans lounging in a shady grove of trees in the grassy park next to city hall. Across the street is free public parking.
The event, now in its 18th year, is organized by local bluesman Ronnie Stewart and the West Coast Blues Society. We became friends with Ronnie years ago from his regular performances at Chris’s Club in Vallejo and his occasional performances alongside our other musical friend Alvon Johnson. A cluster of our friends are blues fans, and together we have frequented many of the Bay’s live-blues clubs and danced a good bit. We’ve made a lot of musical friends, accepted a lot of invitations, and now we’re part of the swirl.
Ronnie is a busy guy. He just hosted a blues and barbecue event at Vino Godfather a few weeks ago to a packed house, and followed right on its tails with the Hayward gig with 60 or more musicians. He’s already involved in another new annual tradition. Coming up is August 12 the 1st Annual V Town Funk on the Island concert, a recently established fundraiser of the Ruben Parker Foundation to honor the tragic passing of their young son Juan. Proceeds go toward supporting at-risk youth.
Sue and our crew will be taking the Caribbean Blues Cruise in the fall. We’re deep into the blues. The blues doesn’t make a lot of money any more. Clubs are small and attendance is waning. However, there are enough of us around the country to fill up a few boats and have a ball.
Seems funny to see the blues fade because there is a lot of new stuff to be blue about. Anyhow, we will be sharing a ship with 100 musicians, including Buddy Guy, Taj Mahal, Elvin Bishop, Tommy Castro, and Charlie Musselwhite.
This current weekend we’re attending the 8th Annual Pleasant Hill Blues and Brews Festival on Saturday where Ralph Woodson will become Jimi Hendrix, and on Sunday we will be at Crockett’s 9th Annual Sugartown Festival with nine big bands.
OK, time for a funny never-ending sidebar: So, Susan and I are at home last Sunday night after the Hayward Blues Festival. We’re flopped out in the living room, exhausted, gazing at the boob tube, looking forward to a few days of quiet before the next big event. We’re half asleep. Susan’s phone buzzes. It’s our daughter Kristi with an urgent request regarding her husband and youngest son.
“Chad and Jack are in Tahoe cleaning the cabin, getting it ready for guests on Tuesday. The washer just died. Can you guys get up early tomorrow, drive to an appliance store, buy a washing machine, drive it to Tahoe, and help Chad install it?”
Wow. Now, of course we would do this task, we’re family, but it sure hit at an inopportune time and we felt great reluctance. We could barely imagine ourselves being suddenly so busy. We’d have to turn off whatever television crap we were watching, rush to bed, and set the alarm.
“Why so early? Don’t we have all day? Does Chad need to get home?”
“No. He and Jack want to go fishing. He said to bring your pole.”
That put a whole new twist on a supposed inconvenience. We jumped into bed and went night night. The next day we drove to the Sears Outlet in Rancho Cordova where they sell scuffed appliances at big discounts, pointed to a $1,000 Kenmore with a smudge on it selling for $540, and they loaded it into my pickup.
In Tahoe Chad and I wheeled the old washer to the curb and put a “Free” sign on it. We hauled in the new one and hooked it up. We looked out front, and the old washer was already gone. Mission accomplished. The time: 12:30 noon. Time to go fishing.
The lesson I learned: be wary of first-step-ophobia. If some task comes up that requires you to hop up off your kiester and leave your comfort zone to go out of your way on a labor of love, either say No or just do it. Don’t agree and complain or do the deed half-hearted. You’ll just make yourself and everyone else miserable.
“Here’s your damn heart medicine, dad. Hope you’re happy. I’m missing the game.”
We fished the West Carson River where 89 and 88 T. Jack and I caught a few fingerlings. Chad stood between us and landed a massive 18-inch brook trout. We were all using the same bait at the time, one salmon egg and one tiny sinker.
It was a great day on the river. We followed it with dinner out and live music at sunset. The next morning we fished some more, then parted ways. Chad and Jack kept fishing the Carson. Sue and I drove home on Highway 88 through Jackson and fished along the way.
We arrived home and flopped again onto our couches feeling not exhausted but rejuvenated.
Steve Gibbs is a retired Benicia High School teacher who has written a column for The Herald since 1985.