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Author: Subject: Robert Plant Quoted Backstage At The Grammies- Bluegrass- Americana - Newgrass

Zen Peach





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  posted on 7/25/2007 at 05:32 PM
If any of you pickers out there, or music lovers, are dropping by the New River Gorge for the Clifftop Festival for a day or two during the week, or over the August 3-5th weekend on your way to Galax starting the week after, give me a shout.

quote:
http://www.herald-dispatch.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070724/LIFE/707 240311/1004


Appalachian String Band Festival kicks off Saturday
By DEREK HALSEY
For The Herald-Dispatch


July 24, 2007

The Appalachian String Band Festival has grown to become one of the most unique events in West Virginia.

Starting July 27 and running until Aug. 5, the music festival takes place at Camp Washington Carver. The camp is about a two-hour drive from the Tri-State area and is situated on top of the beautiful New River Gorge near the small town of Clifftop.

In its 18th year, this family-friendly gathering brings in musicians and music lovers from all over America as well as around the world. At the heart of the festival is the fiddle-based old time mountain music that developed in the hills of Appalachia over hundreds of years. But, as any past visitor can tell you, the music heard can vary from old time music to bluegrass, from the blues to swing and Cajun.

Besides the natural beauty of the New River Gorge setting, what draws folks to the event is that as high as 70 to 80 percent of the attendees play an instrument of one kind or another. The music in the camps is almost never-ending, and a highlight of any day or night at the festival is a walk around the grounds to hear the hundreds of impromptu jams gathering up a head of steam. Up on the main stage, the instrument and band contests are also a fan favorite.

While the festival opens for campers on July 27, the official event begin on
Aug. 1. The individual fiddle and banjo championships start Thursday. Friday brings the ever-popular Neo-traditional Band Contest, and Saturday features the Traditional Band Contest.

Pat Cowdery, the festival events coordinator for the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, has her own description of the fun and unpredictable Neo-traditional Band Contest.

"Kind of funky," said Cowdery. "It's people being able to do old time music in their own funky style. To make it their own, to add changes and different things to it. It is an unusual contest, and it allows people to have a little bit more fun with old time tunes."

And, there is more to do at the festival than just listen to music.

"We also offer other activities for the non-musician to participate in," said Cowdery. "We offer family activities for children from basket weaving to singing and bead making. And, we do a thing called Art For Fun where we allow people to participate in other art forms."

Allegheny Echoes, the music workshop program held every summer in Marlington, W.Va., will be represented at the festival as well.

"We also offer the Please Touch The Instruments program," said Cowdery. "It is presented by Allegheny Echoes, where the non-musician can pick up a fiddle and get an idea of what it is like to hold it and touch it so you can see if you are interested in learning how to play it."

There will also be daily instructional square dances and flat foot dances, as well as concerts by master musicians.


www.wvculture.org/stringband/index.html

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DIRECTIONS:

Traveling South on I-79, take US 19 South Exit 59 (approx 35 miles) to US 60 East, Midland Trail (14 miles) to WV Route 41 South to Clifftop (1.5 miles)

Traveling East on I-64, take Exit 96 US 60 East, Midland Trail, to WV Route 41 South to Clifftop

Traveling West on I-64, from I-81 take the Sam Black Church Exit 156, to US 60 West, Midland Trail (35 miles) to WV Route 41 South to Clifftop (1.5 miles)

Traveling North on I-77, take North Beckley Exit 48, US 19 to US 60, Midland Trail Highway. Take US 60 East and Route 41 South to Clifftop





Road Trip To The Mountains,

http://www.swampland.com/articles/view/swampland/106
















[Edited on 2/9/2009 by DerekFromCincinnati]

 

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True Peach



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  posted on 7/25/2007 at 06:07 PM
Not doing Clifftop but will be at Galax Old Fiddler's Convention starting Wed 8-8. Fishing, drinkin' 'shine and eating funnel cakes for my 9th year running! Let the pickin' begin.

 

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  posted on 7/25/2007 at 06:11 PM
Thanks for sharing the articles, Derek! Makes me want to grab my tent and head for the hills!

 

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  posted on 7/25/2007 at 06:17 PM
Any Canadians going?

Enjoy.

 

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  posted on 7/26/2007 at 01:05 PM
quote:
Any Canadians going?



Absolutely, and I think we're going to form a band this year to enter the funky Neo-Traditional band contest at Clifftop with, so it should be fun. I don't expect to make the finals like the group I was in did last year, but you never know. Or, I know of a guitarist and a fiddler and a couple of other musicians whio will be at the festival who know "Jessica," so that is a possibilty. We suck, but we're fun.

DH

 

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  posted on 7/29/2007 at 04:56 PM
My nefarious Uncle Wormy can no longer see good enough to drive, (hit a deer on his Harley at 4am one morning at 68 years old, thank you very much) so I came in to Huntington, West Virginia on the train to load up the camper and make our way through these Appalachian Mountains. However, to start the trip, there is nothing like going to catch a 3:17am train in Cincinnati only to hear that somebody called a bomb threat into the Indianapolis station causing a three hour delay. Fortunately, I was a prepared camping man, as I whipped out my foldable camp cot and proceeded to stretch out and get some Z's right there in the station as the other passengers moaned and groaned about the straight, uncomfortable station chairs supporting their all night venture.

Here in beautiful Clifftop, West Virginia, the festival doesn't start until Wednesday officially but folks are wandering in and setting up camp. It has rained, but we be prepared - the art of building a picking parlor. When you are there to play and you have instruments that are worth from 100 dollars to 30,000 dollars (An Australian-made Gilchrist Mandolin costs $300,000 big ones), you construct in a quality manner.

There is another camper here, a lady who works at an animal rehab center, and she had a baby rasccoon with her that followed her around and stayed with her every where she went, and did so without a leash. If it would wander off, she would whistle and it would come back. Very cool. Hopefully it won't spook one of the occasional timber rattlers that wander through these mountains every now and then.

After we set up camp, started cooking our usual from scratch better-than-folks-eat-at-home meals, (Wormy's veggie camp soup - the elixer of hangovers and a prime 3am all natural metabolism booster) I strolled over to another wooded cove to see who else had arrived. I immediately run into guitarist Becky Sasser from Harrisonburg, wild man Robert Gabb from Wales, UK of the Prairie Belt Boys (www.myspace.com/prairiebeltboys), and Mando Mafia guitarist Rick Friend, and I was hauling beer but not an instrument. There are nine days to go at this festival, so I just wanted to chill, catch up and joke and laugh, and relax and send some fog of our own through these mountain trees. A few minutes into the first night's romp, Becky goes to her truck and grabs up her Martin and proceeds to play the rhythm riffs of "Jessica" until I notice. I tell her that I don't have my axe, but she doesn't relent and keeps playing the rhythm riff over and over again. Finally Rick lends me his Guild acoustic and we proceed to roll some Allman Brothers music through the woods on top of the New River Gorge. I didn't plan it. I didn't ask for it. It was cool.

At about 3am I make my first walk through the camps and find a blind fiddler named Rich Hartness who is nothing but a nice guy. In this jam, however, he is playing clawhammer instead of fiddle, and came with one I hadn't heard of before with "Gallup To Georgia." It was a sweet double fiddle, banjer and guitar jam by candle light.

I have yet to find any moonshine of any account, but I am sure that will change before the festival is over. They are ate up with it in these parts.

..................

Derek

 

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  posted on 7/31/2007 at 02:48 PM
I leaned into some excellent peach brandy moonshine the night before last. I was sitting in the camp of a fiddler named Steve from Surry County, North Carolina. The shine, however, came from Wilkes County. Merlefest happens in Wilkes County, and I have mentioned the good shine that I have drank there in other posts. I'm still partial to the good stuff that comes out of Nicholas County, West Virginia, Floyd County, Virginia, and other places, (except for the southeastern Virginia got rut,) but Wilkes County steadily produces the best. Steve has been buying from the same still operator for over 20 years. Clean and tangy, and stuck to my three sip rule.

As for Surry County, NC, there are a lot of great fiddlers and musicians there, and for a reason. It is ground zero for mountain music, with a tradition that goes back centuries. The fiddler Steve told me of time spent playing with a legendary fiddler from there named Tommy Jarrell. Jarrell is like Mississippi Fred McDowell on the blues side - went to work and didn't play for a long time, but later in life took it back up and furthered the legend. Jarrell lived from 1886 to 1975, and was not only an incredible fiddler in his own right, but was a literal living link to the mountain music of centuries ago. There is a great album by the late Jimmy Arnold called Southern Soul that has a song called "Soldier's Joy" on it where Arnold opens the cut by explaining that Tommy Jarell taught this version to him, and that Jarrell learned it from a Civil War vet who taught to him when he was a kid. It is a mesmerizing version of this song which dates back a couple of hundred years.

Steve, who is about 50 now, told me of playing with Jarrell and recording two one cassettes of the jams, which he still has. What kills him is that he would turn the recorder off after each song, as he wanted to only learn the tunes, and he did not record the stories told by Jarrell in between the songs. He was young and just didn't think about it. Still, he got to jam with a living legend at the time.

Surry County not only was the home of Tommy Jarrell and other great mountain musicians, but it also houses the town of Mount Airy and nearby Pilot Mountain. Mount Airy, of course, was also the home of Andy Griffith, and Pilot Mountain was changed to Mount Pilot for the Andy Griffith Show. That is why he had all of that bluegrass and old time music on his TV show. Andy Griffith stayed true to his Surry County upbringing and brought mountain music to the rest of the world.

quote:
http://www.oldtimemusic.com/FHOFJarrell.html



Topping my list of most influential fiddlers was Thomas Jefferson Jarrell, 1901 - 1985. I never had the pleasure of meeting the man, but I've been chasing his ghost through films, recordings, but mostly through visits to relatives and friends who knew him, spent time with him and played music with him. To me, Tommy is the glue between past and present. He lived without an automobile or a telephone. He was never a professional musician, never competed in any contest, played for the pure joy of it.

By all accounts, Tommy was a package deal, his generous personality, his stories, his music and his hospitality wove seamlessly together, essential and pure, giving a glimpse of a lost lifestyle to those who were fortunate enough to visit him at his home in the Round Peak region of North Carolina.

Tommy was generous with the musicians who made pilgrimages to see him. All the people I know how visited Tommy describe him as a gracious host. One of my most prized possessions is a tape made by a fellow fiddler who had the opportunity to visit with Tommy during those times. Just as important as the tunes it holds are the snippets of conversation between them.

On "Sprout Wings & Fly", a documentary made about Tommy by Les Blank, Alice Gerard and Cece Conway, Tommy tells a little story that will always stick with me.

TJ: Sometimes I ask him [his deceased Uncle Charley], "Charley, where you been gone so long?" And Charley says "Well, I been around." No most folks don't talk to the dead, but I do Charley.

INTERVIEWER (ALICE GERRARD): How does that make you feel?

TJ: Good in a way...and bad in a way, and good in a way. It's hard to explain, maybe you'll understand it when most of your friends are dead and gone, I can't explain it.

It's that essence, the link with a past that's dead and gone that Tommy forged at the end of his life. Sometimes, I am sitting home playing my fi ddle, and imagine I can hear Tommy's voice saying, "How `bout that Back Step Cindy?" I oblige him and play it, and dream of the day when I might be able to give the tune half the justice he did.



I took a warmed up pot of Uncle Wormy's home made veggie and bean soup down the hill to a friend's camp. I put the soup, bowls and spoons into a poke and walked through the rain to the camp to not only dish out the grub, but to bring my uncle an umbrella, which I knew he didn't have. These are local Fayette County, WV folks, and they had a visitor when I was down there that was a 80-year old gardener and cook. She was there to drop off some veggies from the garden, some home made jam, as well as some fresh home made, unsliced bread, and the combination of the soup and bread was incredible.

One feller at the camp started picking his banjo and that brought in a guy carrying an instrument called a marímbula. It comes from Cuba and is the equivalent of a large bass kalimba. It is called a thumb piano or a rhumba box. He played the bass lines with it, and that brought in a couple of older fellers who played the fiddle and a Beard Squareneck Dobro. They started trading songs and then went on a western swing-Texas bent, picking "Wabash Blues" and other fun stuff.

quote:



The Marimbula belongs to sansa family of idiophones that originated from the Bantu cultures of sub-Saharan Africa. The sansa instruments create sound by plucking or striking the metal fingers. Sansas also include the Kalimba or African thumb piano. Unlike the Kalimba, the Marímbula can be easily tuned and therefore used harmonically as well as rhythmically.



Last night I found an 11-person jam and played guitar and a portable small trap set of drums and shared a bottle of single malt. Tunes included "Portsmouth Breakdown," "Shag Poke," "Money In Both Pockets," "Snake Hunt," and a bluegrass version of James Brown's "Sex Machine." All good.

DH

 

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  posted on 7/31/2007 at 04:26 PM
Nice reports DH, you're agettin' me in the Galax frame of mind. I remember the footage from PBS' The Appalacians and FDR was visiting Appalacia and said to the pickers," I want to hear Soldier's Joy" and they lit into it, a great song. Have you seen the Roan Mtn Hilltoppers up there? Love 'ol Janice and Bill Burchfield! Or, the Pilot Mtn Bobcats? Can't wait to get up yonder. Look out for my Atlanta friends Bruce and Claire Danielson, he on fiddle, she on dulcimer. They get there Friday night and I'll join them in Galax next Wed.

 

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  posted on 8/2/2007 at 01:20 PM
Brock, I've seen members of both, I believe. Yet another amazing night last night. Hung with Tim O'Brien for a while, hanging at a buddy's camp. Mike Seeger is here teaching flat foot dancing today, and the members of Uncle Earl held court on a big jam last night. The best jam was found at about 3am with the Mando mafia and fiddler Andy Williams. It is amazing how a single fiddler who is very good can drive a jam. He called all of the right songs and a steam roll was in progress. I found yet another jam down the hill and that got me to my first dawn.

Earlier in the night there was a Grateful Dead-Robert Hunter jam around a table with a candle on it in the middle of a gravel road with fiddles and banjos and guitars. About 30 feet away was a fun western swing jam, all kicking.

I came across another set of folks talking about the late fiddler Tommy jarrell, that I talk about above. They were talking about seeing Jarrell's "double rattlesnake fiddle" at the Smithsonian Institute. I was thinking along the lines of a fiddle with some cool rattlesnakes carved on it, as in the almost priceless carved fiddle that the late John Hartford gave Vassar Clements. But, I talked to some fiddlers and they set me straight. For centuries, the fiddle was known as the "devil's instrument" by the hardcore religious folk. So, fiddlers would take two dried up rattlesnake tails and slide them inside of the fiddles to keep the devil away and at bay. "I've even bought an old fiddle that had rattlesnake tails in it," said one of the fiddlers. Cool.

It is good to camp next to hunters and fishermen. One guy has gotten up early every day to drive down the mountain and fish for trout in the Gauley River. Good fresh eats, as well as venison roast and deep friend turkeys.

The festival grounds are full with more coming in every inute. Critical mass for music is around the corner.

DH

 

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  posted on 8/4/2007 at 01:11 PM
One darn thing about this festival, cough, cough, it ain't about a bunch of nothing but guys playing music with folks watching them. There are a ton of excellent female musicians everywhere, playing guitar, fiddle, bass, clawhammer banjer, mandolin, even keeping the percussion going with a small portable, square wooden board on which they clog dance the beat. Very cool.

Well, I got my Canadian friends in a little trouble - but it was good trouble. I put a bug in my friend Sue from Toronto's ear back at Merlefest about forming a band and enetering the wild and crazy Neo-Traditional band contest on Friday night. The regular straight old time mountain music contest is on Saturday, but on Friday, the Neo-Trad contest is alooser, where folks add swing or reggae or rock or whatever into the mountain music mix. It didn't look like it would happen, as attempts at forming a band didn't happen organically. But, things changed.

The deal with the contest is that the bands that sign up during the day get one song in front of the judges. Then, the band that won it last year put on an hour paid show, and then the top five finalists from the competition come back on the main stage under the lights for a playoff. Each band gets two songs. Last year, I was in a band with a ringer - a beautiful 20-year old blond and blue-eyed guitarist and singer from the Ukraine who led us to the Finals and the money. (That story is here - http://www.swampland.com/articles/view/swampland/311) This year, I told Sue that , "If I could do it, she could do it." About Thursday night it didn't look good. But, then we got Sue into a large jam, and her wild bluegrass lead accordion playing won the crowd over and about 3am she formed a band with some friends of mine, all excellent players. They entered the contest and worked on some wild arrangements off the cuff of "Tater Patch" and "Armidillo Breakdown", and sure enough, they made the FInals. Under the lights, they did very well and placed fourth out of 53 bands in the competition. The name of their impromptu band was The Common Taters.


Whew. Hit a wall last night and got my first early evening, crashing at about 3am. On Friday nights the Cajun musician bunch, in their big circus tent, hold a late night cajun jam. It gives folks who have picked all week a chance to put their instrument down and dance the night away.

Today, in the camp next to us, we'll have a werddin reception going on. Some folks, who happen to be from Cincinnati-small world- are getting married at the old grist mill at next door Babcock State Park and are having the reception in the festival. Deep fried turkey, hooping and a hollerin', big doings.

I hot some licks in a fun western swing-Dickey's "Highway Call' era type of 12 person jam and played both guitar and a small trap set of drums. 4am- had a blast.

Brock, if you run into any folks from Charlottesvuille or Harrisonburg, Virginia, or West Virginia, see if they know me. have fun at Galax.

Derek

 

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  posted on 8/4/2007 at 02:31 PM
Derek, I laughed when you said you made an early evening of it by retiring at 3am; that sounds very familiar! I'll look out for your friends. Starting to pull it together here and will be leaving on Wed. We'll be doing the mtn bike down Whitetop Mtn from Damascus Thurs, maybe fish some and hit the convention Thurs night, and Friday and Saturday. We rent a farm house outside of town, near Independence. Taking that old 'shine w/ me, just in case we're feeling bold, which is likely. Enjoy the rest of your fest.

 

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  posted on 8/6/2007 at 06:20 PM
This is fascinating -

More on getting my friend Sue into the Neo-Traditional competition, and what it took to make it happen with a band that was together for a matter of hours.

Earlier this year, at the Merlefest Festival in North Carolina in April, I told Sue that if she came down to Clifftop from Toronto later in the year, she would have enter the Neo-Trad contest because, as I explained, "If my hack ass can do it, you can do it." About Thursday night, however, the prospect of it happening doesn't look good. No group organically emerges or forms, there are no songs to practice, and no one to practice them with. "I don't think it's going to happen," says Sue. So, we go off to do other things as darkness falls and the night time jams start to rise out of the ground approached.

But, many hours later, myself, our buddy Bill Hill, and others introduce Sue to a big group of musicians who were having fun in Robert Gabb's tent that is back in the wooded part of Clifftop known as Carterville, or Charlottesville Cove. Gabb, a musician who performs with the Prairie Belt Boys, grew up in Wales but now lives in Surry County, North Carolina. He tends to host a lively jam, and that is putting it mildly. This leads to Sue being invited into the session. Her bluegrass, old time, and swinging lead accordion playing seems to win the crowd over.

Apparently, somewhere around 4am, Sue finds herself in a band formed with folks who are all excellent players, including Sheila Newman from central Virginia on fiddle and mandolin, Bill Hill from Fayetteville, West Virginia on rhythm guitar, Steve Burnside from Ashville, North Carolina on mandolin and guitar, Lou Prichard from Charleston, West Virginia on mandolin, and Terry Newman from central Virginia on bass. The gig is on.

The next morning, or later that same morning I should say, the assigned time enter the contest runs from 10am to 11:30am. That translates into - somebody has to get moving and sign in after being up darn near all night. Bill Hill gets the job done. The name of the band becomes The Common Taters from Fayetteville, West Virginia.

My Dad, David, and his wife Ellen show up for the day on Friday at Clifftop. After showing them around the grounds, taking in the craft booths and the music, I bring them over to an empty, slightly sloping patch of tree-covered campground where the Common Taters have decided to rehearse. They worked up an interesting arrangement of "Golden Slippers," with three mandolins leading the way along with accordion. The combination sounds great, as the mandolins are harmonized in a way that layers the sound, the guitar and bass are solid underneath, and the tone and drive of the riffs of the accordion in Sue's capable hands fits right in.

The band draws number 42 out of 53 entered bands, which means that they have a little time to work something up. When their time to perform arrives, they are called to the back of the stage to check in while the rest of us find our seats in front of the stage. Soon, it is their turn.

They pull it off, especially considering it is a song that has only been run through about six times. The crowd responds to the band favorably. Afterwards, we all go back to my camp to relax and wait for the announcement of the top five bands that will perform a two-song playoff later that night in the Finals. I joke with Sue and the rest of them relentlessly, "I'm telling you, from what I've heard of the other bands, you're going to make the Finals, and you don't even have two more songs worked up." "No, get out of here," says Sue. "We're not going to make the Finals. No way, right?" "Exactly what we told ourselves last year," I answer, trying to get their goat a little bit. Of course, they knew they would not make the Finals, and they knew that I was messing with their heads. I'm that kind of guy. But then, the announcement came....." and The Common Taters from Fayetteville, West Virginia."

Steve and Sue are at my campsite, looking at me and each other with their mouths open and eyes wide. Our camp is a little ways from the stage, and the sound isn't clear. But, I am sure that I heard their name being announced from the main stage. Soon, here comes Sheila with a look and a smile on her face that lets the rest of them know that she heard it as well, from another location. Confirmed.

Other nearby campers start walking out from under their tents to congratulate the Taters. Hound Dog Hill, a band camped across the path from us from Stanton, Virginia, also make the Finals. This corner of Clifftop has doubled up, and is whooping it up. I find Lou next door eating fresh-caught trout, and I interrupt his meal to give him the news. It elicits the same surprised reaction. You hear your band's name called, you're being congratulated, and then feel the blood rushing from your head a little bit as you realize that you do not have two more songs worked up to play in the Finals...under the lights...on the main stage...the headline event of the evening. They do not have much time. This band has played together a total of an hour and a half up until now. Time to get to work.

But, that is where it gets cool. The Taters group up again and sit together in the woods and work up not just two more songs, but two more fired up arrangements of "Tater Patch," and a song chosen to let Sue rip the accordion on with an arranged-up "Armadillo Breakdown."

Steve jumps out to take the arrangement lead;

Steve talking to Lou - "So, we want four potatoes,(a phrase that describes a particular way to start off a song) and then you and I will do the melody with her, but I'll do the harmony with you, because you and I are going to be the primary lead guys."

The music starts and then Steve stops the song abruptly and talks to Bill on rhythm guitar and Terry on bass about starting the song. "Hit it (the main chord) one time while we're doing that (riff). Ok? One big note and then let it start, and then come in on the B part. So, four potatoes again. Here we go."

The music starts again, and Steve stops it again, talking again to Bill and Steve. "Right on the down beat. Give us a note on that." "On the D?," asks Terry. "Yes," says Steve. "On the D, and then come in on the B part and that's when we'll pick up on the whole tune." Bill and Terry play the asked for chord in unison, and it frames the opening of the song effectively. Then, as the song kicks in all the way, they keep the rhythm and bottom thumping.

The band then plays "Tater Patch" all the way through this time and is excited about the arrangement, but more tweaks are needed.

"What's going to happen is that you and I need to be together all the time," says Steve, talking again to Lou on mandolin, and then to the rest of the band. "So, we'll do the belly together, and then we'll go right into the jam, and then we go all the way through. You guys just let the key go in. Like, you guys play, and then drop out, and then come back in. We can do that all by eye contact. Ok, four potatoes."

The song starts again, and Steve stops it again. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry. I hate to interrupt again, but (talking to Bill on rhythm guitar) actually, go right to the rhythm the first time, and as we get to the end we'll start chopping like this. We'll put the emphasis on the B part the first time through, after we get to the melody, and then then the second time we can start throwing the dynamics in."

They manage to play the song all the way through this time. They work on the ending riff and agree on it. "When we get to the last round on that," says Bill, worrying about the length of the song. "I mean, we played that through seven times, I believe. Seven or eight." "That was good, and the length was good," says Sue, following the theme of what Bill is thinking about. "That had a lot of energy," confers Terry. They leave it as it is.

"Back to 'Armadillo,'" says Sheila, a wonderful fiddler who then picks up her mandolin for the next song. All of these musicians play more than one instrument, and I always find that impressive. Sue kicks it off. This song, written by Pete Wernick, is a favorite of hers, and Sue could rip it on accordion in her sleep. In the middle of it they decide to add some words. What they come up with, in light of being at the festival, is a goofy "Oh, my aching head," with some added vocal partif. As with the earlier song, they work out the ending, choosing a modified cha-cha-cha.

"You all should mosey," I suggest to them, as the time to make their appearance back stage has arrived. Last year's winners, Polecat Creek featuring Kari Sickenberger, Laurelyn Dossett, (Riley baugus,) Natalya Weinstein, and John Herrman and the rest, have almost finished their wonderful hour-long performance and the Finals will start in a matter of minutes. Out of the five bands in the Finals, the Taters pick number two from the hat and are to be the second band to perform.

After all five bands play, the judges take 15 minutes or so to make their decision. They Common Taters place fourth out of 53 bands in the competition, and won a little cash to boot. While it was a little nerve-wracking, it was also a good time.
"You know what," says Sue the next day. "I was more nerved up going up and doing 'Golden Slippers.' (Their first song in the afternoon competition) Then, when we went up we said, 'We're going to have some fun up here,' because I just went, 'Oh my God, we're in the Finals.' I didn't even know who were the other Finalists, and I saw them dancing and everyone was cheering. But yeah, I think there was fun onstage, wasn't there?" "Absolutely," I respond.

After the competition is over, the members of the less than 24 hours-old Common Taters meet at Sheila and Terry's camp to take some group pictures. As they pose while holding their instruments and the Fourth Place ribbon and diploma that they received, they relax and talk about the day and enjoy the fun.



quote:
Derek, I laughed when you said you made an early evening of it by retiring at 3am; that sounds very familiar! I'll look out for your friends. Starting to pull it together here and will be leaving on Wed. We'll be doing the mtn bike down Whitetop Mtn from Damascus Thurs, maybe fish some and hit the convention Thurs night, and Friday and Saturday. We rent a farm house outside of town, near Independence. Taking that old 'shine w/ me, just in case we're feeling bold, which is likely. Enjoy the rest of your fest.



Brock, saying that 3am is an early sounds like BS, but when you are in an environment like Clifftop of Galax, (god forbid I should do both back to back. Call an ambulance) the jams kick into gear, then another 12 sets of jams kick in, and you either go from to another, or jam at one for two hours and go find another combination, or even if you are just listening, you lose all track of time. I literally had to force myself to hit the tent early at 3am because a wall was looming.


Hey, I might being going to the Rockbridge festival in September on the beautiful Maury River in the mountains of central Virginia. http://www.rockbridgefestival.org/

Derek H



[Edited on 8/7/2007 by DerekFromCincinnati]

 

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  posted on 8/6/2007 at 08:24 PM
DH, no, I believed you on the 3am, done a few of them myownself at Galax. Pretty amazing when someone is doing Whiskey in the Jar at 2 am and they know all the words; I can sleep anytime. The tent scene, and not the stages is where I've had most of my Galax moments. Ok, maybe the funnel cake while watching oldtime bands on stage was a moment. Are you familiar w/ a spiritual story/song 4 Rusty Nails? I saw some guy just come into a tent circle a few yrs ago, nobody knew who he was, and he has not been seen since, and give this most moving rendition. Let's just say it was for me like when Old Yeller died. Or when we followed David Bass around till about 3 am to see him play, finally. Or, popping in on Tara Nevins and Joe Thrift. 2 days to Galax #9 of 71(?). And a wholesome time too, really.

 

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  posted on 8/6/2007 at 08:51 PM

Hey now Derek -

Your posts make fascinating reading! I really enjoy living this festival through your eyes and ears. Some day I would love to accompany you to the Appalachian String Band Festival ...

 

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  posted on 8/6/2007 at 09:19 PM
quote:
Hey now Derek -

Your posts make fascinating reading! I really enjoy living this festival through your eyes and ears. Some day I would love to accompany you to the Appalachian String Band Festival ...


Hop, I'd love for you to do so. You will be greeted with all encompassing hospitality. I hope it happens.

quote:
DH, no, I believed you on the 3am, done a few of them myownself at Galax. Pretty amazing when someone is doing Whiskey in the Jar at 2 am and they know all the words; I can sleep anytime. The tent scene, and not the stages is where I've had most of my Galax moments. Ok, maybe the funnel cake while watching oldtime bands on stage was a moment. Are you familiar w/ a spiritual story/song 4 Rusty Nails? I saw some guy just come into a tent circle a few yrs ago, nobody knew who he was, and he has not been seen since, and give this most moving rendition. Let's just say it was for me like when Old Yeller died. Or when we followed David Bass around till about 3 am to see him play, finally. Or, popping in on Tara Nevins and Joe Thrift. 2 days to Galax #9 of 71(?). And a wholesome time too, really.



Exactly, Brock. You describe the experiential moments well. You can describe it, but when you see it happen three feet in front of you, and your maybe even a little part of it, magic happens. No electricity needed. And, am I right amount the of babes that are playing instruments??

Tell Joe Thrift howdy for me if you see him. I just spent a week with him, watching him tear it up. He performed a song in the Neo-Traditional band contest, in the original song division, last Friday that moved me and everyone who heard it. Although known for his great Surry County fiddling, he played guitar and sang, with rhythm guitar legend Charlie Pickford playing guitar, Mike Olitsky on banjo, and none other than Tim O'Brien on fiddle and high harmony. Truly special. While the amount of talent on the stage at the moment was impressive, it was the song itself that moved us all, and an original Thirft song to boot. I swear, somebody could record a earthy southern rock version of that song that would get all of us.

I'll have one last post on here tomorrow, as I wrap up Saturday at Clifftop- the main event day where special things happened hour after hour. Stay tuned. Still a little worn out, but sated.

DH

 

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  posted on 8/6/2007 at 09:33 PM
Yes, Derek, there are some fine looking women players, and attendees. However, I only have eyes for fiddler Martha Spencer. Matt Kirwan told us of a story that a friend of his gave a dressed deer to Miss Martha to win her affections, to no avail. I have no chance then. Matt usually visits our farmhouse; he got 3d in fiddle last year. Nice young man and a fine player. Do you know Edward, can't remember his last name, who does the Cabbagehead song? He is my hero.

 

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  posted on 8/6/2007 at 10:02 PM
Derek - enjoying the trip to the stringfest (even though it's being done vicariously ) Thanks for sharing the trip through your words. Love the looks of that marimbula! I have both bass and treble kalimba's that I mess around with so this looks like something that would be fun.

 

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  posted on 8/6/2007 at 10:07 PM
quote:
Matt usually visits our farmhouse; he got 3d in fiddle last year. Nice young man and a fine player.


I know. last year he lostto another young fiddler - jake Krack of Orma, West Virginia. Jake learned from Bobby Taylor, and Bobby Taylor learned from the legendary Clark Kessinger.

quote:
Derek - enjoying the trip to the stringfest (even though it's being done vicariously ) Thanks for sharing the trip through your words. Love the looks of that marimbula! I have both bass and treble kalimba's that I mess around with so this looks like something that would be fun.



Cool. I know this, and Brock will probably agree, but there is always a need for a bass player in a jam.

DH

 

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  posted on 8/6/2007 at 10:09 PM
quote:
Cool. I know this, and Brock will probably agree, but there is always a need for a bass player in a jam.
lol - well, don't think they'd want me in there with my kalimba (not that I wouldn't love it - heck, may break it out and do some practicing tonight )!

 

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  posted on 8/6/2007 at 10:16 PM
A bass player is a rarity, I think because nobody wants to tote a bass around the festival. I've even been known to plunk our washtub bass back at the farmhouse jams. I'm no good, but it's fun to become even closer to the music. I'm not a player, just what my group calls a flea, we hop around and latch on to whatever jams are cooking. Get along home, Cindy Cindy.

 

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  posted on 8/7/2007 at 12:39 PM
quote:
quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------- -----
Cool. I know this, and Brock will probably agree, but there is always a need for a bass player in a jam.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------- -----

lol - well, don't think they'd want me in there with my kalimba (not that I wouldn't love it - heck, may break it out and do some practicing tonight )!


I meant take up the marimbula. As for the kalimba, there were instruments a this festival from harmonica
to a bagpipe
to a beautiful looking and sounding all wooden harp
to a wind up hurdy gurdy
to a flute
to a ukelele
to a penny whistle played beautifully by a 12 year old at the wedding reception
to hammer dulcimer
to lap dulcimer
to a bari saxophone
to a set of bones
to an accordion
to two different steel pan drums in the competition
to a six string banjo
to an antigue and large minstrel banjo
to a washtup bass
to the lady camped next to us who plays and rerpairs auto harps, which she did as folks found out she was there and came by for a repair.

Are you hearing me, Lola???? Can I get an 'Amen?"

quote:
A bass player is a rarity, I think because nobody wants to tote a bass around the festival. I've even been known to plunk our washtub bass back at the farmhouse jams.


Yep, I'm glad I don't have to tote around a bass. The answer seems to be a modified three-wheel baby carriage.

My uncle Wormy is determined make a gutbucket bass. We asked all the folks who had one at the festival which size to use, and they all said "A number 2 washtub." So, flea markets, here he comes.

Derek H

 

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  posted on 8/7/2007 at 12:42 PM
quote:
quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------- -----
Cool. I know this, and Brock will probably agree, but there is always a need for a bass player in a jam.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------- -----

lol - well, don't think they'd want me in there with my kalimba (not that I wouldn't love it - heck, may break it out and do some practicing tonight )!


I meant take up the marimbula. As for the kalimba, there were instruments a this festival from harmonica
to a bagpipe
to a beautiful looking and sounding all wooden harp
to a wind up hurdy gurdy
to a flute
to a ukelele
to a penny whistle played beautifully by a 12 year old at the wedding reception
to hammer dulcimer
to lap dulcimer
to a bari saxophone
to a set of bones
to an accordion
to two different steel pan drums in the competition
to a squareneck Dobro
to a six string banjo
to an antigue and large minstrel banjo
to a washtup bass
to the lady camped next to us who plays and rerpairs auto harps, which she did as folks found out she was there and came by for a repair.

Are you hearing me, Lola???? Can I get an 'Amen?"

quote:
A bass player is a rarity, I think because nobody wants to tote a bass around the festival. I've even been known to plunk our washtub bass back at the farmhouse jams.


Yep, I'm glad I don't have to tote around a bass. The answer seems to be a modified three-wheel baby carriage.

My uncle Wormy is determined make a gutbucket bass. We asked all the folks who had one at the festival which size to use, and they all said "A number 2 washtub." So, flea markets, here he comes.

Derek H

[Edited on 8/7/2007 by DerekFromCincinnati]

 

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  posted on 8/7/2007 at 01:13 PM
Derek, I am told cotton cord for the washtub bass string is best, approx 1/2 in diameter. A wood chuck, to get the edge of the tub up a couple inches helps too. This info came from the diva of washtub bassists, Janice Birchfield. Wonder if Galax has any web hotspots? Screw it, low tech is where I'm at for a few days.

 

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  posted on 8/7/2007 at 01:14 PM
quote:
Are you hearing me, Lola???? Can I get an 'Amen?"
Amen!!!

 

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  posted on 8/7/2007 at 02:46 PM
quote:
Derek, I am told cotton cord for the washtub bass string is best, approx 1/2 in diameter. A wood chuck, to get the edge of the tub up a couple inches helps too. This info came from the diva of washtub bassists, Janice Birchfield.


Ok, cool. I also heard at the festival that, while one might think an older gutbucket would sound best, it is better to find a new one. We'll see.

 

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