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Summer '07 West Coast Tour

Will Warner, Executive Director

One of the main cell blocks in Alcatraz

"But it's a dry heat, so..." We heard that a lot from our hosts in southern California and Nevada on tour this summer. It seems we were there during a heat wave that followed us around like a groupie. Record highs in Nevada and Death Valley. Who knew Death Valley would be so hot in July? But that was the last day...

The tour began with an airplane flight, the first in their lives for some of our members. The flight was fun but otherwise uneventful, which is pretty much what you want in air travel. Arriving in Las Vegas, we placed ourselves in the capable hands of Robert, our bus driver for the next 12 days of deserts, mountains, seashore, cities and shows.

After a short night, we were off to San Diego for the first gig on tour. That evening the Fiddlers performed for an enthusiastic crowd at the San Diego Bluegrass Society's Kids Night. We met some other talented young pickers and bowers that night.

After a short night, we booked it up to LA for an afternoon performance on the Santa Monica Pier. The Californians seemed to like it, judging by their reaction and the guestbook entries they left. Following the show, there was time for swimming and lying on the beautiful Santa Monica beach.

A sleepy Fiddler, dozing on the bus
after another short night

We devoted the next day to sightseeing in Hollywood, a visit to the Getty Museum, and dinner with a flamenco show. Cellist Jacob V. found himself on stage for the closing number. To gales of laughter from the audience, the female dancers guided Jacob through the flamenco steps and movements, which he executed extremely well, for a guy. I hope to see the video on YouTube someday.

After a short night, it was up the Ventura Highway to Oxnard, CA. The Fiddlers were the evening’s entertainment in Oxnard's summer concert series. What a beautiful evening, wonderful setting, and great crowd. Afterward, the town held a reception to honor the Saline Fiddlers; city council members and the mayor spoke. They were very kind.

The next day Robert took us up the coast to the aquarium in Monterey on the way to San Francisco the following day.

The City was the scene of many adventures: trolley rides, a walk across the Golden Gate bridge, shopping in Chinatown and on Fisherman's Wharf, a tour of Alcatraz. The group played a memorable gig to a large crowd on Pier 39, then dined at Bubba Gump's.

Death Valley: Over 120 in the shade!

After a short night, we left the coast and crossed the mountains into Nevada's Carson Valley. In the afternoon, maestro Culver and the Fiddlers conducted a workshop for young fiddle players in the region, sponsored by the Sierra Philharmonic League. The attendees learned three songs that they would play the next day in concert with the Saline Fiddlers.

We enjoyed two nights of host hosing in Nevada, arranged, like the workshop, by John O'Neill, a composer and retired music teacher in Minden . Nell O'Neill, John's wife, crafted the violin that Jacob K. plays, and it was around this connection that the tour was constructed.

July 4th saw the group taking part in the Carson Valley's celebration of Independence Day, performing to a large audience in Mormon State Park, just ahead of a patriotic program by the Reno Philharmonic.

With the tour's last show successfully completed, we spent a couple of days getting home. Entering Yosemite Park through dramatic Tioga pass, we picnicked and hiked to the top of Lembert Dome (9500 feet). The last day included a stop in Death Valley for lunch and pictures (128 degrees F), and the red-eye home from Las Vegas. Early the next morning (6:00 o'clock), our parents cheerfully met us at the airport and were reunited with their amazing children.

See more pictures from the trip in the Photos section

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