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Saturday, May 8, 2010


big daddy love at the silver dollar in glade valley

Cool air is moving in. This afternoon a bit of a breeze is carrying the cooler air in on us. It will be cool until Friday when it warms up. I'll be going in a few hours to hear Big Daddy Love. The JAM kids will open for the band. I'm looking forward to that too. Good night for pictures. In the meantime I'll listen to the Laurel Fork Travelers. Arnold Spangler is a fiddler who sings. Singing fiddlers, like GB Grayson and Tommy Jarrell, Spangler and others, tend to vocalize the fiddle notes in ways only fiddlers sing. Spangler's singing voice and his fiddle are very much alike. Spangler sang in the old-time mountain accent that has since softened considerably over the years of television.

It does me good to hear that old way of singing. I can enjoy music and enjoy music, but when I hear that old-time fiddle, banjo and singing, something deep inside relaxes, feels at home within. I think it might be something akin to the human dimension. We're in a mass culture now guided by marketing. Michael Jackson and Britney Spears are good examples of corporate commodities. I think of it as something like a jet plane in relation to old-time that is more like walking or riding a horse. Our civilization hovers on the verge of abandoning the human dimension altogether. The Laurel Fork Travelers were not named by a corporation, not guided in any way by the pablum of corporate thought. They're not about money. They're about making music.

This morning's radio show was a great deal of fun. I told a little bit about last night at the Front Porch in Woodlawn, the music of Taylor Rorrer, Doug Rorrer and Scott Freeman, played from 3 different cds they all played together on, with others. My concern today was how I was going to insert a couple of rock songs into the program in a way that doesn't seem like an aside, or a digression. Played the first half hour of this driving acoustic music. Weather/Farm Bureau commercial put a stop to the groove I had going. Good place to insert something new. Played River Runs by Big Daddy Love and it sounded awfully good. The next one, American Sycamore, showed what each of the musicians can do, the banjo and the electric guitar, and gave a good sense of the kind of rock they play. How to get the groove back to acoustic music I solved by playing Forked Deer with Doug Rorrer and Wayne Henderson picking guitar together. Forked Deer is a high energy fiddle tune. The transition was just right. Seamless. Finished with Doug Rorrer playing solo guitar and singing Keep On The Sunny Side. Good ending.

I took a break and went to Big Daddy Love concert at the Silver Dollar in Glade Valley. The place was nearly packed. Sparta turned out for the band. Every age and all different kinds of people. Going by who was there, I see Sparta is happy with their home town rock band. After hearing the album, I told my friend Carole it was not a noise band. After the show tonight I have to say they are a noise band. I have to say they have the potential to go as far as they want to go in the pop music world. I've been listening to bluegrass, the music of masterful musicianship, and old-time, both of which are about the music. I wasn't able to figure out if it was me or the band tonight, but I never felt the music. These guys are good musicians and people were jumping all over the dancefloor. I was most taken by the turnout of Sparta people to fill the place up for 3 homeboys. I can't make out why the music didn't take hold of me. One thing I can think of is listening to Arnold Spangler and Laurel Fork Travelers for 2 hours before I went. I was hearing some really well played fiddle and banjo, guitar and vocals, as well as the songs themselves by a band that plays music first.

That must have something to do with it, that and listening to a lot of mountain music over the last several years, hearing the artistry of Lester Flatt's singing and Earl Scruggs' banjo, Ricky Skaggs' mandolin, Scott Freeman, Doug and Taylor Rorrer, just about anybody who plays at a fiddler's convention on Saturday night, Carter Stanley's singing and Ralph Stanley's singing and banjo, Bill Monroe, the Osborne Brothers, Steve Lewis, Wayne Henderson and a very long list of others. With my ears attuned to master musicianship of acoustic instruments, the switch to the roar of electric was a kind of shock. Though it's not a shock when I hear on cd the Clash, Generation X, Garbage, Mazzy Starr. I still have an ear for rock, but somehow was unsatisfied with what is actually a really good band. I noticed as the concert went on the audience seemed to grow less excited. The beginning was a big rush of electric rock that got everybody going, and some little old ladies I'm afraid might have listened to my show this morning and went to see what this was they might have thought I was recommending. I hope not. The drummer. He was not subtle at all. Seemed to me one of those drummers who believes loudest is best. They could have turned his volume down about half way. I've never liked drummers that give it all to loud. The electric banjo sounded like an electric piano. The Allman Brothers guitar was awfully good. The rest of it sounded something akin to toned down thrash. I don't mean to be insulting to the band. I'm just searching for why a really good band didn't reach me musically tonight. It reached a majority of the people there. When I had my bluegrass ear I went to a Papa Roach concert at a small venue like tonight and loved the music of it. It was 10x louder than tonight.

Also, I've been listening to r&r since the beginning. I've heard all the musical trends in rock from the rockabilly beginning to Rage Against The Machine and Thrice. The band tonight seems like they threw all their high energy music into the beginning and toward the end lowered the energy and brought it down to a place where the people were talking to each other more than paying attention to the band. When they left the stage, there was piddling little applause calling them back. When they came back for an encore, I thought: doesn't take much. I was ready to go home and left during the 2nd encore song. The concerts I've been to in the past have started with a bang, then settle into lower energy music and build to the mayhem climax and gets the audience going nuts. These guys started out high energy and faded down as time went by until the end when it was too low energy for the audience to call for an encore. I don't mean to sound unappreciative, because I'm not. I do appreciate they're a really good band.

It was a good show and, as I said before, the best part was seeing the turnout of Sparta (Alleghany) folks in support of their hometown band. I'd say tonight Big Daddy Love established themselves as a Sparta band, a band the local folks who listen to rock, about everyone under 67, and everyone who watches television, can appreciate as a band heading for the charts. Rock is the music of our time. I've loved a great deal of it and listened to an even greater deal of it. Janes Addiction continues to knock my sox off as does Siouxsie and the Banshees. It wasn't that it was rock I wasn't able to connect with. I can't find it. I don't know what it was. Largely, it was a blur of the instruments but for the drums and electric guitar. Rarely heard the banjo, though he was playing all the time, and the vocals seemed to blend into the blur. Possibly it was the sound system, acoustics, I don't know what. Perhaps I expected too much. That's more than likely it. I might have been expecting something like Three Doors Down or Linkin Park. I do think that's it, high expectation met with a really good band that is in its beginning. This is the celebration of their first album as a band. I'm not looking at the Clash at the moment their first album was released, but later when they were getting it together. It was still a good concert, despite my jaded mind. I had my fun watching this big crowd of Sparta people jamming, supporting the homeboys. That was the very best part. I'm glad it was such a success for Partnership for Children. It guarantees the band will be back next year, a year into growing together as a band. These guys will be better every year.


  1. The fact that this blog is titled "SPARTA ROCKS" says all that needs to be said!! We had a great crowd coming out to hear some of the most talented musicians ever to come out of Alleghany County who are in the earliest stages of their success. I will refer you to your first "blog" Sparta boys about these guys. As you yourself states "Their sound is their own" That is what makes it GREAT!! I have to say that referring to them being in the "pop world" doesn't really fit. Their sound is their own and I do not feel that way about pop music. So if you went into the show expecting the "pop music sounds" or harder rock sounds, I can certainly see how it didn't really "grab ya" Their blend of unique talents is what makes them special and I think their music speaks to many. I'm looking forward to their musical growth and success!! :) Again, I'll refer you to your initial comments about their album:

    "They're a 5 piece band. I put them on the soundmachine later and was struck by what a good band they are, right off. Dan Smith does the vocals and wrote all the songs. They are every one respectable songs in the wording and the presentation with music. The band plays very well together, they're all good musicians, good vocals. All the songs are well conceived musically.
    Dan Smith, songwriter, vocalist and rhythm guitar, gives a good description of their sound to Laura in the interview, "We call our music roots and rock. It speaks around a lot of our influences; we call it the sound of bluegrass with the soul of the Allman Brothers." When I read that before hearing them, I thought, 'Whatever.' When I heard their sound, it was evident he knew what he was saying. The sound of bluegrass with electric guitar and drums. He didn't mean they sounded like bluegrass. The band has the sound of bluegrass. Listening to the album I listened for bluegrass and there was none. But there was, indeed, the sound of bluegrass. The Allman Brothers soul he mentioned hit the mark. Joey Recchio playing the electric guitar really does have the Southern soul of Duane Allman and Dickey Betts. Again, it's the soul of the Allman Brothers he pointed to and indeed it's there. The soul of Greg Allman is in the sound as well as Duane. Yet Big Daddy Love's sound is their own."
    That to me, is much more fitting!!

  2. Thanks Angie for all you said. I kind of equated "pop world" with Michael Jackson, when I was not very specific, meaning it this time as the music charts. I expect to watch them climb the charts like a ladder, whatever category of chart they'll be in.

    My concert experience was my own. I had to tell it as I felt it and saw it. I wanted to be all-out flattering, but I think I flattered them enough. In the world of old-time and bluegrass they wouldn't be flattered at all. Might go to their heads and ruin em. But this is a different time. If there were 300 people in the audience, there were 300 different experiences. Mine is not necessarily accurate or true for all, filtering through my own lifetime of experience, the same as everyone else's. It's just my own. I don't mean it to be a criticism of the band. I like a quotation from Walt Whitman, "So I contradict myself." The blog is through my own eyes and ears, my own feelings and thoughts. I'm nobody's publicity agent. Nothing I write is from on high to be taken for truth. Absolutely not. Taken for illusion only. My words are just vapors in the wind.