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Thursday, June 4, 2009

UNCLES AND NEPHEWS

Lucas Pasley & Fred McBride

Both these men are related to Guy Brooks, fiddler of the Red Fox Chasers, first band from Alleghany to record. They recorded 40 titles in the late 1920s, and I believe Guy Brooks composed most of them. Lucas plays one of his great-great uncle's fiddle tunes, Did You Ever See The Devil Uncle Joe, on the Alleghany County Musicians collection. I believe Guy Brooks was great-uncle to Fred McBride. Fred's mother and Lucas's grandmother were Brookses. Lucas's great-grandfather was Frank Brooks, Guy's brother.

If those relationships aren't exact, they're close. Fred was one of the great fiddlers of his generation. He worked in Maryland and retired back in NC, living at Hays/NWilkesboro. He made music in the mountains with his friends George Eller, who lives at Hayes across the street from Fred, Faye Wagoner, also a Brooks, of Glade Valley, Bertie Dickens of Ennice, Ed Atwood of Whitehead, and others.

Fred, like a mountain musician, never cared anything about recording. Some younger musicians below the mountain in Wilkes County got a band together around him, The Stone Mountain Old Time String Band, to get him on record. They made a great album. Fred didn't like the experience. He said playing the fiddle alone inside a glass booth with headphones on didn't feel right. He didn't like the process and having the album made didn't phase him one way or the other. I'm glad they made it because Fred was too good not to have on record.

Lucas paid close attention to Fred's fiddle playing and learned a great deal from him. Lucas plays fiddle, old-time banjo, guitar and bass, all equally well. Fred played old-time banjo too, so when they made music they'd switch around, play one awhile and then the other. Lucas played a tune Fred taught him at Fred's funeral. It was a moving moment. I don't know how he did it, close as he was to Fred.

Lucas actively maintains a house, improving it step-by-step. I saw his wife Ibi at Food Lion today. She said he's completely changing the kitchen and she and the kids are staying out of his way. The question of what I might write about today was drifting in the back of my mind and when I saw Ibi, that was it. Ibi is learning fiddle and she plays bass at jams. Ibi is a delicate thing, like fine china. I have a feeling it's her delicate nature and delicate frame that appeals to Lucas, plus, of course, Ibi herself, a dear any way you look at her.

Lucas is Mr. Pasley English professor at the high school. He likes the kids and the kids like him. He's a skateboard champion too. In the summer he and Ibi go around to old-time fiddlers conventions and both bring home ribbons after having a fun weekend. Everything Lucas does, he does well.

He has a computer loaded with old-time music, an immense amount of treasures. He's becoming the county's musical folklorist. Like he has Clifton Evans's reel-to-reel tapes he's putting into computer and on cds for archival reasons. These projects take him awhile, they're slow and ongoing, always interesting to him. Like working on his house a little bit at a time when he's able. By retirement age, the house restoration will be completed and beatuiful, inside and out. All of his projects grow as he grows and get better as they go along.

Lucas has created a website where all the musicians of the county, past and present, are listed. It is in its infancy and he is looking for information on the various musicians and some examples of their music, so you can click on a name and find some information on the musician, and where possible samples of his/her music. He thinks he'd like it to be something like Wikipedia where anybody can add information.

http://sites.google.com/site/tradmusicalleghany/

PS I've fixed this link so it works. It didn't work at first because I'd left out "site" after .com.

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