From the hills and hollers of Northern California comes a melodious country/Americana/bluegrass band called Blithedale Canyon, whose members are longtime friends with decades of experience playing various kinds of music. Imagine old-school country songs, bluegrass and Tex-Mex with a bit of old-time rock and roll, played on pedal steel, Fender Telecaster and Precision bass, and a Martin acoustic guitar, with three lead singers and mellifluous three-part harmonies, and you’ll have a good idea of what to expect from this exciting new quartet.
It all began in the winter of 2013, when pedal steel player Gary Kaye, who lives in the Blithedale Canyon area of Mill Valley, invited the local duo Keystone Crossing – Larry Carlin and Claudia Hampe – over to his house to jam some on acoustic guitars while he worked out on his steel. The duo began singing classic country songs from a few decades back, and over time a list of favorite tunes developed. After working up two sets of material, electric guitar playing friend Gary Bauman came by one night to jam as Larry switched over to playing bass, and Gary immediately added a magical third part to the duo’s harmonious voices. And just like that, the band’s sound suddenly began to gel.
As a result, at any Blithedale Canyon show you are likely to hear a multifarious mix of Merle, Hank, Johnny, Patsy and Emmylou, along with Creedence, The Mavericks, Neil Young, The Desert Rose Band, The New Riders, The Byrds, and the Dead, all done in a style that has been dubbed "Marin County Country."
Band Member Bios
Larry Carlin, bass and vocals, is a longtime performer, producer, and writer of bluegrass and country in the San Francisco Bay Area. Originally from King of Prussia, PA, he has been living in Sausalito for 30 years. He and his partner, Claudia Hampe, have a duo called Keystone Crossing as well as a five-piece bluegrass band called Keystone Station. For 31 years he played with Dr. Elmo (of "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" fame) and Wild Blue.
Claudia Hampe grew up in Radnor, PA, and has been living in Mill Valley since the early '70s. She sang in folk groups in high school, and her singing group, The Jovial Singers, beat out a fledgling singer/songwriter named Jim Croce at a talent show in 1964. She sang in the Marin County band Rowdy & The Rivets in the early '80s, and she plays with Larry in the Keystone bands. She plays rhythm guitar and sings the beautiful parts that make Blithedale Canyon sound so good. To support her music habit, she has been working as a real estate broker in Mill Valley for over 40 years.
Gary Kaye, our "Man of Steel," lives in the Blithedale Canyon area of Mill Valley, by way of Brooklyn, NY. He plays the pedal steel, which really gives the band a distinct country sound. He also plays banjo, he founded and leads the Bay Area bluegrass band Savannah Blu, and he has studied with such banjo greats as Bela Fleck. Some years back he played with the Sunhill String Band, a New York based bluegrass band, and also toured with the Cache Valley Drifters, a Southern California touring country/bluegrass band.
Gary Bauman, on electric guitar and vocals, is originally from LA but now lives in San Anselmo. He began playing guitar as a kid, and was influenced early on by the surf music of Dick Dale, The Ventures, and The Beach Boys. He is a versatile player who has played with a long list of Bay Area bands, including the current ensembles The Ghost Riders, Rovetti & Meatballs, and Todos Santos. Gary is right at home playing country, swing, blues. and bluegrass