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Friday, May 7, 2010

THE FIDDLE & THE PLOW

. doug rorrer, scott freeman, taylor rorrer



Pictured is 3/5 of the Hungry Hash House Ramblers. Doug Rorrer, playing guitar on left, is great nephew of Charlie Poole and Posey Rorrer, one of Poole's fiddlers, Poole's brother-in-law. Taylor Rorrer is son of Doug Rorrer. Taylor plays both guitar and fiddle. In the middle is Scott Freeman, mandolin picker for Hungry Hash House Ramblers. Scott has recently released a fiddle album. This is the first in a weekly music series Scott Freeman and Willard Gayheart are putting on at Jill Freeman's framing shop on Coulson Church Road behind Harmons. A left turn and you're there. The frame shop is called the Front Porch. Jill is Scott Freeman's wife and Willard Gayheart's daughter. It's behind Bobby Patterson's music store, the Heritage Shoppe.
They will put on a music show every week through the summer at least. The 21st of May will feature Steve Lewis, banjo and guitar master. Scott will play probably guitar with him, and maybe Willard. On 4th of June Edwin Lacy will play old-time banjo. These are first rate musicians. Lacy is one of the missing fifths of the Hungry Hash House Ramblers. The other fifth is Doug's wife Kathy, Taylor's mother, who played bass and died 2 years ago. She sang Summertime like no one else. For me, she made the song her own.



Scott and Willard opened the show picking guitar together. They picked just one tune. If my memory isn't way off, I think they played Black Mountain Rag. I wanted them to play more, though it looks like this will be the format of the shows, Scott and Willard play something to welcome the audience and introduce the guests. These are two really good musicians who have made music together at least the last 20 years. They were together in Skeeter & the Skidmarks and Alternate Roots. Willard is originally from Hazard, Kentucky, and better known for his pencil drawings than his music. Scott is from MtAiry. Presently he plays with a band of his brothers, Pathway, and with the McPeak Brothers. The walls in the gallery were covered with Willard's drawings in frames. If you want one of Willard's drawings, that's the place to get one. His drawing studio is in the downstairs of the frame shop.



Their weekly music series is called The Fiddle & The Plow. They explained that the traditional music and farm work go together. They only charge $5 to get in. A dozen people showed up tonight. That's about gas money for Doug and Taylor who drove here from Eden, NC, just above Greensboro. That's the tradition, playing for gas money. They played like the place was a thousand seats and sold out. They gave us some good music. Again, I felt privileged that I live in a place where music this good can be heard every Friday and Saturday night in a great variety of places in several counties around me. Five dollars, walk into an intimate little place and hear some major good music for 2 hours. It's an hour drive, exactly, from my door to there.



About the first half of the show Taylor played fiddle. Second half he played guitar. Doug sang when singing was due. Doug is one of the great guitar pickers in NC. Taylor is too. I saw them maybe 6 years ago when Taylor was 18. He was his dad's equal then. Played fiddle then, too. Tonight we had 3 master pickers going at it for 2 hours. They never let up. Doug is good at talking between songs to keep audience amused. Scott played mandolin mostly, guitar a few times. It was a treat for my ears to be hearing these people make music. They're musicians the music is first for. Their artistry serves the music, not the other way around. They do the music so well without calling attention to their mastery it sounds natural and effortless. Both Doug and Taylor play fiddle tunes with their guitars. Scott does too with his mandolin.



Doug has a recording studio at his house and a label, Flyin' Cloud Records. The website is at http://www.flyincloudrecords.com. He has a catalog of NC traditional music by musicians such as Kirk Sutphin, Johnny and Jeanette Williams, Jeff Michael, Hungry Hash House Ramblers, Doug and Taylor together, Wayne Henderson, Bob Carlin, and others.



I met Melvin Felts after the show. He was clawhammer banjo with the Laurel Fork Travelers, Arnold Spangler fiddle. Now his band is The Mountain Ivy Band. His wife Dea plays the fiddle. She played bass with Laurel Fork Travelers. I expect she paid a lot of attention to Spangler's fiddling. Looking forward to hearing it. Out of the trunk of his car I came home with 4 cds; 2 by Laurel Fork Travelers I didn't know about, 1 by Mountain Ivy Band and 1 of his dad, Thomas R. Felts, who picked banjo. Melvin recorded it when his dad was in his mid 70s. It was funny when we were talking, I asked him if he picked. He did, clawhammer. The way he said it I had a feeling he was active and played with a band. I asked his name. Melvin Felts. I put out my hand to shake the hand of someone whose banjo I've appreciated many a time. I like the Laurel Fork Travelers so much, it was like meeting somebody from Patti Smith Group, better. I came home ready to listen to some Doug and Taylor music toward what I want to play in the morning. Listening to them while writing. Looking forward to a week of listening to Laurel Fork Travelers and Mountain Ivy Band. I already know what next week's show will be.




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