About Me

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Pomfret, CT, United States
I use this blog to maintain and promote bluegrass and to showcase artists and festivals.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Bluegrass is my Second Language

I've just finished a fascinating book by John Santa called "Bluegrass Is My Second Language". Santa hails from Bluegrass Heaven, North Carolina that is, and he knows what he's talking about when it comes to explaining the atmosphere of the jam session. He made the transition from a long history of playing the blues to the frenetic world of bluegrass sorta" cold turkey" when asked by a new friend that he had only just recently jammed with to help out at a benefit for a large group of important people. The other players were complete strangers to him. In the book he humorously explains the emotions he has on the ride to the gig and how he gets thru it all.
The rest of the book takes the reader on many long rides to magical places where the people are warm and wonderful. You get to meet folks that are sometimes a bit different, maybe even quirky and some of the surroundings where the jams take place are almost mythical. Santa tells us about the many emotional relationships he develops with folks at the jams and shows us the basic goodness found in all of them, how they help him get through sad times as when his beloved dog passes or when a particularly bad winter puts him into a depression. Santa has the ability to put the reader right into the middle of a jam with his vivid recollections of how each player takes his turn on a solo or backs up the group and the audiences reaction to the music. This turned out to be a fun read and I know I'll go back and reread chapters just to enjoy the books characters.

To learn more about the book click here


John Santa


  1. I can't agree with you more. This book is a ton of fun.

    I have read the book (twice) and will probably do so again. My favorite page is 388 where I am mentioned!!

  2. Hi, My name is Keith Carroll, the Bass player mentioned in John's book, "Bluegrass is my second language" and I'm the bassist in the pictures you see. It is a good book and everyone that reads it should read it again slowly just to get everything...A lot went over my head the first time I read it. It's been fun autographing books-I never thought I'd ever get to do that. I hear ya Whit Kenny. Thanks to John Santa!

  3. Keith, I hope life has many more pleasant surprises for you

  4. Jack, thanks for the kind words, and it's good to see you back to posting regularly again!
    One correction though:
    The name of the band is actually, EIGHTwentythree, named after the first time we played together, August 23, 2001. The other gentlemen in the photo are Jeff Wiseman on vocals and banjo, Greg Eldred on vocals and guitar and Keith Carroll on vocals and bass. The band has a CD of original songs coming out in late summer called The Blessing Of The Strings: songs from the book Bluegrass Is My Second Language.
    We'll be sure to send you an advance copy so you can review it here on your blog!

  5. Jack, thanks for the kind words and I am very pleased to see you back to posting regularly!
    One correction though:
    The name of the band I play with is EIGHTwentythree, not The RDU Session Players. The Session Players are an informal jam group that meets once a month. The pictures you have up here are of the band EIGHTwentythree (named after the first time we played together, August 23, 2001) and I am very proud to be a member and play with these amazing musicians. The gentlemen in the photos are Jeff Wiseman on banjo, Greg Eldred on guitar and Keith Carroll on doghouse bass.
    All of us in the band sing and write songs and you can hear those songs in our shows and on our new CD due out late this summer called The Blessing Of The Strings.
    We'll be sure to get you an advanced copy so you can get the word out to your readers Jack, and thanks again for being such a fan of my book!

  6. My name is Saige. I'm 11 years old. Greg Eldred is my dad. Sometimes we go out to this old tobaco barn called 'Browns Opray', and perform together. It's fun! Awesome blog! :)

  7. Saige, keep on playin, pickin Bluegrass will pick you up if you get down, it will always make you happy