This morning's radio show started with Doc Watson singing the Bill Monroe song, MY ROSE OF OLD KENTUCKY. I'd gone to the station having in mind playing Skeeter & the Skidmarks and the Laurel Fork Travelers. Wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do. So I picked up some Doc Watson and Clint Howard and a cd I made once of old-time gospel, like Ola Belle Reed. By the time I arrived at the station I was wanting to start the show with Doc Watson singing My Rose of Old Kentucky. It's a good song anyway, but when Doc Watson handles it, it's brand new. From there, whatever's next. More Doc Watson with emphasis on his music with a band instead of his folk guitar style. Then into Clint Howard, a friend of Watsons who lives near Mountain City, Tennessee, then Hungry Hash House Ramblers with Edwin Lacy banjo and Scott Freeman mandolin. Scott has a website worth visiting: http://www.scott-freeman.com/
Skeeter & the Skidmarks played tonight at the Blowing Rock school house. I wanted to go. MtAiry fiddlers convention was going on too. I'd been wanting for months to go to MtAiry this
year. And Benton Flippen was playing at the Blue Ridge Music Center on the Parkway. I wanted to go to all of them. Could only go to one. I was leaning toward driving to Blowing Rock, not wanting to make the drive. Didn't want to drive all the way to MtAiry. It became such a logjam to make a decision from that I threw them all off and said I wasn't going to go to any of them. The phone rang and it was Arnold Clodfelter. He and his wife Sherry asked me to go to the Golden Corral in MtAiry. I said, Yes. Solved. I'd rather spend time with Arnold and Sherry than any one of those shows, so off we went on the road to MtAiry. The shows were entertainments, but Arnold and Sherry are friends.
Arnold is having a rough time. A very rough time. Sherry has become his sustainer and protector. They knew my friend and Jr's, Jean, and they knew Jr. Arnold grew up in Whitehead and knew Jr all his life. Jean and Jr became important parts of my life and they went away. I like spending time with people who knew them, not so much to talk about them, but it creates a kind of presence. This is why I want to keep up with friends who were Jr's friends and now mine, because it brings Jr back to a degree when I'm talking with Jerry Edwards, for example, who has known Jr since he was born, his dad was Jr's closest friend, and since him, Jerry has been. We don't talk about Jr, but the spirit of his presence is with us when we're visiting. I like that. I feel like I need more interaction with friends than entertainment today. There's plenty of entertainment going around. I don't want to get to a place where I expect myself to take in as much as possible. I want to be able to see as much as I want to see and be free enough not to if I don't feel like it. And I want always to be able to hold friends above entertainment.
I'm glad it worked out as it did. I've thought a lot of both of them for several years. We haven't known each other well, but it's always been a good association. I remember when Arnold was working at the radio station in the time when Judy Halsey worked there when the station was an active community station. The station had paid employees and was doing well. Then the station changed hands, out with the old, in with the new. No more community station. It was a small-time attempt to be like big city FM nucountry stations.
It took the station 20 years to die from indifference as all the advertisers went away. Arnold is one of many happy to see the station coming back, Sue bringing it back to the community. And the community is tuning the station in again. I feel a bit of a bond with Arnold through the station. He, too, is appalled at the shamelessness of the 2 djs who believed the station was dead, due to them, and baled out taking with them everything they wanted, cleaning the place out, leaving it with only the music they didn't like, the music the listeners liked. Sue has a good library of bluegrass and gospel and older country to play from, minus Dolly Parton and Rhonda Vincent, particular favorites of theirs. It was like the Bush administration running a radio station. No one wants them back. I'm reminded of Marsha Wagoner telling me about a time her dad, Amos, talked straight with somebody from Away who was running down the county. Amos told him nobody asked him to come here and nobody will miss him when he's gone. Well said.
My Saturday morning show and Sonya's Monday morning show are the 2 threads that went through the station's demise one day and resurrection the next when Sue came in. Ours were the only times of the week the station spoke to its listeners with appreciation for who they are. We want to play music the listeners love. Sue asked people to call and tell her what sorts of music they wanted to hear. Country, bluegrass, traditional, gospel. Not necessarily in that order, but those were the four. That's what Sue plays for the listeners. She fulfills every request she's able. It does me good to know my listeners are loving the music I'm playing to them. Like today playing Ralph Stanley's Rank Stranger with Roy Lee Centers singing lead. I believe with fair certainty that everyone listening loved that song as much as I did. It doesn't get much better than that. It does, but not much. Like Carter singing it.
We used to sing Rank Stranger in Millard Pruitt's Regular Baptist Church, Laurel Glenn. Brother Millard loved the song deeply. The song book had a lot of Carter Family songs in it. Beautiful Star of Bethlehem from the New Baptist song book, that song Ralph Stanley did right, like every song he sings. We sang several songs Dr. Ralph and Carter recorded. As far as I can tell, their voices sing from the soul of these mountains. I'm loving doing gospel time too. Ralph and Carter can be played just as much there as on the other, what I've come to call Square Dance Music Hour, and the next one Gospel Hour. The only change to gospel hour is the songs will be mostly from the region of the central Blue Ridge. There is so much good music in this region that I can play endlessly and never run out of music. Two of the songs played this morning by Hungry Hash House Ramblers had the fiddle of Jim Van Cleve in them. He is fiddler with Mountain Heart. A North Carolina boy. Seems like the next thing would be a show of North Carolina traditional music. We have an enormous number of good musicians in the state as in the central Blue Ridge. Years ago, I told Scott Freeman his band Alternate Roots was "a really good band." He said, "There's a lot of good bands." He was right.