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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

ERNEST JOINES


Ran into Ernest today. I'd been at Image Specialists talking with Claire Halsey about getting copies of the Mountain Musicians 4cd set to the Old Time Herald magazine in Durham for review and the NC Folklife Institute in Chapel Hill for the archive. Stopped at Backwoods Bean and had some good coffee treats and visited with Dan Lohr and Dave the coffee bar tender. Dan I've known for several years. He picks a guitar and is a good singer of what I'd guess would be called contemporary folk. He makes some of his own songs. Came here from Winston Salem.

On the way back to the truck I saw Ernest's car parked in front of the Jubilee. I went in and he was vaccuming between the seats preparing the place for the night's dance. I never pass up a chance to talk with Ernest because he puts me in a good humor. When he was gathering the music for the cd set of the county's musicians, I rode to Woodlawn with him taking the tapes and disks to Bobby Patterson at Heritage Records, and picking them up. Bobby would even out the sound from track to track, take out superficial noises sometimes, and deliver the finished product, a stack of a hundred cds ready to go.

He sells cds of regional musicians, so I always buy some from him for the radio show. He has a label, Heritage Records. He has recorded a good catalog of Southwest Virginia old-time since the days of lps. Bobby is something like the hub of Grayson County music. Excellent musician and just as excellent a human being. He loves old-time music of this region. He played guitar with Tommy Jarrell and Kyle Creed on their album June Apple, one of the great samples of the music from this region of the mountains.
Riding to Woodlawn and back, Ernest kept me entertained the whole way. He has a sense of humor that is ON all the time. Ernest is every minute ready to sit down and enjoy a good laugh. He told me he'd worked night and day nonstop getting all this music together. I said, I know you did, it shows. I wanted to tell him, just because it felt important to, and did, that this is something he did, that all of this music is collected together and Ernest Joines did it. It may be the single most important event in the history of the county. The reward is that it is done. It doesn't matter if it sells a lot or a little, or in between, the collection exists, and only Ernest Joines could have done it so thoroughly.

I wanted to be along for the ride, too, because I felt like this was a truly important moment. I wanted to see it up close, see the box of tapes, cds and instructions change hands. The best is that it's the kind of important you can't go around talking to anybody about. You just know it in yourself and there's no need to talk about it, because it's the kind of important that touches the truth center within and that's enough.

Ernest and I sat down at a little table in the Jubilee just inside the door. He offered me a coke, but I'd just had two coffees. He was there cleaning up for tonight and Agnes was at some meeting. "There's an awful lot to do. Did you know that?" We talked about the new outdoor stage going up at Crouse Park. D.W. Miles is funding a great deal of it. The cds are selling pretty well, better than he'd expected. They were made as a fundraising project by the committee for the Sesquicentennial, 150 years of Alleghany County. They've been able to do quite a lot with the money they're getting from the cds.

We talked about the Hillbilly Show, both of us wanting to do the Gong Show again, and talked of maybe doing a Culhane skit from Hee Haw. He told me I'd be Jr Samples. I said, Yeah, I think I can do that. Stand up in a cornfield, forget what I'm supposed to say, break out laughing and squat back down. That's about as far as my acting abilities go. When we got up and shook hands, I went out the door feeling uplifted inside from all the laughing with Ernest.

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