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Friday, July 9, 2010


joe shannon, hammer dulcimer, scott freeman, fiddle

At the Front Porch Gallery in Woodlawn, Joe Shannon played hammer dulcimer, concertina, harmonica, guitar, banjo and hammer dulcimer. It is a beautiful, angelic kind of sound the hammer dulcimer makes. I thought I noticed that the sound of the hammer dulcimer is Joe's own personal sound. He plays banjo, concertina and harmonica with a similar sound to what he gets from the hammer dulcimer. It's a full-bodied delicate sound and felt like its sound is his own inner sound that guides the sound he pulls out of the other instruments. His harmonica playing was as beauiful as on the hammer dulcimer. It was quite different, but came from the same place within.

I found tonight the first effect of not being a mountain music dj any more. I wanted to buy one of his cds for the radio hour, but didn't buy one because there's no reason to anymore. I didn't care about it so much for myself, but wanted to give my listeners a chance to hear what somebody in Boone is doing with hammer dulcimer. I'll save about $50 a month buying cds to play on the air. Now I'm ready to go through my collection and take some more to the library. I even thought of buying one of the cds for the library. But talked myself out of it. The reason to find new mountain music is over.

This doesn't mean I'll stop gathering information for the Alleghany music website with Lucas Pasley. It doesn't mean I'll stop looking for recordings of musicians of our county. It seems like what is happening is I've completed a 7 year cycle that started when I stopped to see Jr to ask how he felt about a music store in town selling mountain music and strings. Every day I went step-by-step toward setting the store into motion. Started the radio show same day as the store's opening. This is the time I started spending time with Jr talking about putting the store together. Then I met Jean Phillips, Jr's neighbor and friend, and the 3 of us stopped at Jr's in the evenings, sometimes Jean making supper for us. We became a gang of 3 who got together almost every evening at Jr's to sit at the table and talk. Jr and I drank from our drams, Jean drank coffee and smoked cigarettes. A lot of the time we listened to bluegrass on WBRF as we talked.

4 years later Jean died. Then the store died. A few years later Jr died. Jean and Jr became 2 of the closest friends in my life. Now that Jr's gone, the radio show is gone. 7 years from start to finish. By the time Jr began needing help, I was ready to assist in every way I could. I had earned his trust, which was valuable to me, and I couldn't leave him to be taken care of by people he did not and could not trust. Trust was important to Jr. He didn't give it lightly. It was through Jr I learned the importance of trust. In that cycle, both my friends found in the cycle died inside the cycle, and now the radio show has died too, putting an end to the whole 7 year cycle. Not only were Jr and Jean two of the most remarkable human beings I've had the good fortune to know, I actually felt like I was sent to them, because God wanted me to know them. There is also the perspective He wanted them to know me. It was like that all the way around with us. We were there for each other. It became a kind of support group among us. Jr didn't talk psychological talk like Jean and I did. He tuned out when we went off that deep end. Jean's years in institutions taught her a great deal about the psychoanalytical process and about herself.

In that time I met a lot of new friends through the store. I met a host of wonderful people in there, many of them friends now. Jr's friends are now my friends. I've found the music world that is something like an underground lake. You don't know it's there until you're in it. I'm acquainted with Old Time Herald, and have a good working knowledge of mountain music I didn't have before this cycle. The end of one cycle is the beginning of the next. I can figure the next cycle started yesterday. Like the last cycle, it will be entirely unpredictable. I'd like to go on playing mountain music to the people of the county that love it, but it looks like that's over. I may not like it, but I didn't like Jr dying either, nor Jean dying.

Words from a Bob Dylan song,

Everything passes, everything changes,
Just do what you think you should do.
Who knows maybe, someday baby
I'll come running to you.

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