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The 2005 Larry Award:

LarryFest honors someone in the Bay Area for his or her volunteer efforts in promoting bluegrass. The fest was first held in August of 2001 when Suzanne Suwanda and friends held a party for Larry Carlin, and for want of a better name it was dubbed “LarryFest.” 
Other honorees have been Barb Hansen 2002, Mike Hall 2004, and Darby and Bruno Brandli in 2004. 


This year’s honorees are Eric and Barbara Burman!

Photos will be coming soon!

Thank you for visiting Eric's Page: 
Here are brief biographies for Eric and Barb, courtesy of Suzanne Suwanda.

<< Eric Burman >>

Eric Burman was born in San Francisco in 1951, and raised in the Santa Clara Valley, in San Jose near Los Gatos and Saratoga. He went to most of the community colleges in the Valley after getting out of the Navy, where he learned his trade; emergency medicine. He was a medical corpsman in the Navy and a medic for the Marines. He later got his RN at Monterey Peninsula College and has been working in emergency/cardiac/surgical care for 30 years.

He now lives on a mountain top ranch in Bonny Dune after having lived in Santa Cruz for the previous 15 years. In Santa Cruz he found his other love besides music fossil hunting. He looks for 5 million year old whalebone skulls and shark teeth from the same time period. He lived across the street from the ocean for ten years, so he searched everyday. And eventually he found a new genus and species of walrus from 5 million years ago. He turned it over to a museum and got the glory after they worked on the skull he had found. It was a great thrill to him to know of all of the books that had to be rewritten as a new spot on the walrus family tree was created. It took ten more years before anyone found another walrus like the one Eric discovered.

He didn't start listening to bluegrass until the Strawberry Music Festival moved to Camp Mather. He played guitar and mostly sang, but he’d had never been around that many musicians that knew bluegrass. It took several years before he had any idea, and if it wasn't for Jackie Miller’s bluegrass band class, put on by the Santa Cruz Bluegrass Society, he might still have no idea how to play bluegrass or start a bluegrass festival. He goes to about six festivals each year and runs most of them. Eric also enjoys just going to a festival and lying around too, like he does at Strawberry. 

The Brookdale Festival, which Eric produces, take place twice a year, and this December will be its sixth year (it also takes place in March). Last year Eric put on two benefit concerts for people in need Greg Davis, who passed away last October, and the “Surf Dawg” Steven Davies, a popular KPIG morning surf and weather reporter, who died this year of cancer. Eric has put on other benefit concerts at Brookdale as well, including one for Sarah Elizabeth Campbell, and one to raise money for the Good Old Fashioned Festival. He was a founder of the fest, and he passed it on to the Santa Cruz Bluegrass Society (now the Northern California Bluegrass Society) in 1994. He is involved with putting on a benefit bluegrass concert this October 15th in Felton to help save the library. And he recently produced a bluegrass festival at Roaring Camp in Felton in June. More info about Eric’s festivals can be found at on this web site.

The bluegrass band New Grass Revival was his first inspiration, then Peter Rowan, Hot Rize, and Ralph Stanley. He belongs to NCBS and CBA, and is married to a wonderful lady and musician, "Banjo" Barb Burman, who also plays bass in The Lunatic Fringe.

Eric has learned that “friendship and family are the most important things on this earth. Music can raise the level of consciousness to a level above personal differences.” And that's why he loves bluegrass so much. “When we all come together to make music we go to a special place above our problems and concerns; it's a place of freedom and acceptance,” he says. 

 

<< Barbra Burman >>

Barbra grew up in Pennsylvania and first became interested in the banjo by listening to Bill Keith and The Jim Kweskin Jug Band. At the tender age of 12, she would don a black turtleneck, put on black eyeliner and white lipstick and sneak in to one of three local bluegrass bars, where she might hear Mac Martin and The Dixie Travelers playing at Welch’s. A little older, she would combine a trip to DC to protest the war with a visit to the Birchmere to hear Seldom Scene.

She played Dixieland-style banjo in college (Duquesne University) including a stint with a rock group called the Rhythm Kings, complete with horns. “I was the chick singer and had a gold lame dress which is why they hired me!” she said. She liked to go to “homecomings” (the precursor to festivals) in West Virginia that were held in high school gyms and on the football fields. She also went to Bean Blossom in the early 70’s and met Bill Monroe when she tried to steal his horse. (Ask Barb for the story!)

In 1975 she moved to Palo Alto, found a banjo teacher named Aaron at Los Altos Music and bought her first bluegrass banjo. Aaron invited her to the first CBA festival in Grass Valley, the only bluegrass festival in California at the time. Aaron had a once a year banjo camp at his house where all the banjo players in the area would congregate (Jerry Garcia used to come as well).

Barb traveled in the late 70’s playing her banjo in bars and national parks (including Yellowstone); one summer she toured Alaska playing bars and campsites. She still has many friends who know her only as “Banjo Barb” and never knew her last name.

Back in California she took a workshop with Bill Keith, where she met and became friends with Cousin Al, who kept her advised of events, including the formation of the Santa Cruz Bluegrass Society, which she joined immediately. At one point she met the Abbott Family, and started playing bass as a means to help review their playing-by-ear method.

She met Eric at the first GOF when “he threw me and my giant dog HamBone (a 120 lb. search and rescue dog) out of the festival and told me to ‘never darken his doorway again.' ” Somehow the conflict was resolved and later she took Eric to MerleFest and to Pete Wernick’s banjo camp (she already knew Wernick and that’s what led to Wernick’s camps in the Santa Cruz area). Still later, she and Eric were married at the Brookdale Lodge in the Santa Cruz Mountains.

That started another festival, because “the staff kept saying our wedding was the best party ever, would we do it again?” Barb laughs. It started with a one-day event and now is a three-day party, twice a year.

In her spare time, Barb enjoys her three horses: two Paso Finos and an Arab.