Carolina Road Tour Report #4: House concert in Acampo, CA

Junior Sisk with members of Carolina Road and The Southern Grass at the airport in Las Vegas

Lorraine Jordan & Carolina Road are touring now in California, and have promised to send us regular reports with photos from the west coast. Here is one from Ramona Beresford-Howe, a bluegrass lover and aspiring fiddler who caught one of their shows.

Lorraine Jordan, it turns out, loves John Fogerty. So much so, that when asked if she and her band Carolina Road, could do a house concert just east of Lodi, California, she jumped at the chance. Not only did she open the house concert held at the home of Teresa and Joe Michel with Fogerty’s well loved song, Stuck in Lodi Again, but she posted a video on Facebook that showed her standing in front of a street sign in Lodi playing it while singing her heart out.

And sing her heart out she did. Her western tour includes San Diego, Mexico, Morgan Hill, Palm Springs and yes, a house concert in Acampo, a small farm community east of Lodi. She not only showcased the popular and well known song True Grass, but included the original recording artists,Junior Sisk and Danny Paisley on her tour, both solid backbones of traditional bluegrass.

Well known as the Blugrass Lady of Tradition, Lorraine and her band seemed to have just as much fun as the audience of 50-60 people listening to her as they performed everything from the songs of Bill Monroe to top 40 bluegrass originals. The intimate setting highlighted making friends, sharing jokes and enjoying great music performed by polished and seasoned, down home, good ol’ musicians.

I asked her how she, Junior, and Danny had gotten together. “True grass is a song about that original bluegrass sound.I knew I had to have the most solid, traditional singers on that song. Both of them have a voice that just says bluegrass, you know?”

Junior Sisk, a serious bluegrass contender in his own right, more than held the crowd with his great vocals and amazing lyrics. I was lucky enough to get to know his wife of 25 years. “When we first started going out, I told him we couldn’t be together. I have always been pretty outgoing and I have a lot of friends. I told him I wasn’t going to stop giving my friends hugs and kisses. We worked that out pretty quick, I can tell you. You now, right now, most of his songs are written for him by other people. He says he can’t write a sad song since he fell in love.”

Her grin was HUGE!

Danny Paisley, one of my favorite bluegrass musicians, and his son Ryan, reminded us of the strong narrative side of bluegrass tradition. Songs that spoke of family and land, the ties that bind the people of bluegrass together. I have to admit that I confessed to Danny that I had called him my boyfriend when my husband and I had seen him at Wintergrass 6 years ago. It was a funny way to start a conversation, but we became fast friends and laughed a lot about it. And thank you, Ryan, for ripping on that mandolin!

Joe and Teresa threw a great party. Just to remind you, they host the midnight hot dog stand at the Father’s Day Festival in Grass Valley, California. Hot dogs, nachos, potato salad and drinks were available for donations. The weather was cool but comfortable. The musicians were able to play unplugged and all seats were premium. We were even lucky enough to hear a few great songs with Teresa and Lorraine harmonizing together. It’s always a treat when Teresa sings, I can tell you.

Lorraine and the band were headed south from the house concert, presumably to chase down the rumor that there was a statue of John Fogerty sitting on a park bench somewhere in Modesto, California. The Michel’s are planning on having more house concerts and I for one will be a regular at these events. As Susan Sisk says, “It’s the music. Bluegrass just makes you feel like family.”