Friday, August 6, 2010
AT THE FRONT PORCH GALLERY
jeanette and johnny williams
Tonight at the Front Porch Gallery in Woodlawn, Virginia, the music of Johnny and Jeanette Williams. As every week, the music is superlative. Right away when the music started tonight, it was music, not something trying to sound like music, but the real deal. Both good singers and both good musicians. Scott Freeman accompanied them on mandolin. Scott sang some too. Scott's mandolin tonight was something special. He picked tonight with an artistry I knew was in him, but he's not shown a great deal of. Scott is one to emphasize the music and let artistry take the back seat. His artistry was right up front tonight. It was like he was inspired by Johnny and Jeanette's music. They, in turn, seemed inspired by Scott's pickin too. They played music like they'd made music together a long time.
Scott and Willard open every week singing I'm Going Back To The Blue Ridge, the story of somebody of the mountains who has been away for a period of time on his way back home,"goin back to stay." It's a favorite song of theirs and becoming a favorite of mine. I like the way they sing it and pick it. I feel the sentiment every time I hear it. It makes me think of how desperate I would feel if I had to leave these mountains. Johnny sang a couple of songs of love for the mountains. Something flatlanders don't know about the mountains is they are more than just hills and winding roads. We know the mountains under foot. They are fountains of life like they are fountains of music. For me, they are the same as grandmother's arms. Everybody has their own relationship with the mountains.
The feeling at the Front Porch tonight was happy, the music had such good spirit about it, relaxed, at home, while at the same time it was mountain music with good drive. Johnny and Jeanette have different bands and don't make a great deal of music together. Jeanette is with the Jeanette Williams Band, bluegrass. She's made several albums and they're all good. You can hear her sing 2 songs, Dreamer and Thank You For Caring at: www.jeanettewilliams.com Quite a good song. Gives you an idea of what I heard for a couple hours tonight. Johnny has been with Big Country Bluegrass and appears on their most recent album with Lynwood Lunsford the new banjo in the band. Both Johnny and Jeanette are well experienced in the music world of our region. At Jeanette's website I saw she won the best female vocalist award in traditional music. She rates it. She is that good a singer. Johnny is a good singer too. He's a good songwriter. He's a good guitar picker. He has a fairly recent album The Last Day At Galax. it's named for a good song he sang tonight. Johnny has recorded a good bit with Jeff Michael over the years. They made an album together calling themselves Grass Tank, with Lynwood Lunsford pickin banjo, on Doug Rorrer's label Flyin Cloud. Johnny and Jeff made another album same label of Jeff playing mandolin and Johnny guitar. Both sing. They made some respectable music. Jeff is a great fiddler and all around musician. Now Johnny, Jeff and Lynwood are back together in Big Country Bluegrass.
Jeanette has a good love energy about her. Johnny does too. The energy that flows between them when they make music is love. A happy feeling in the music uplifted me and the rest of the audience. They started right off with the music and it wasn't long before I was permeated with the music, really feeling it. It felt like the audience had caught the flow of the music the same as I had, relaxed into it, flowed with it. It was a happy feeling that flowed through the dozen or so of us attending. Jeanette has a feminine grace about her that flows through her singing, her music, her presence as a woman, her movements, her voice. Her song Dreamer is a good vocal example of the feminine that flows through her voice. I notice much use of the word flow. Flow is what happened tonight in the music. It was a good musical flow and there was a flow that went from the musicians to the listeners and back to the musicians, back to the listeners and became a circular flow like I've felt at a Doc Watson concert. Doc Watson sends a love feeling to his listeners and they send it back. It gets going in a circular flow and it feels extra good to be in that circle.
Early on in the music tonight I was feeling humbled by it. Humbled by the incredible musicianship of people as good at what they do as anyone on the pop charts, which they are. I was humbled that I was able to be there. With all the good feeling flowing around the place, I felt fully present. I remember for one moment my thoughts left the place, but came right back and stayed. For 2 hours my mind was free of itself, held in the present by the music that never ceased to hold my attention. When I say I was humbled, it's not because they do something I can't do, it's like quiet inside, setting self aside in the presence of something awe inspiring. Perhaps by humbled I mean a quieting of the mind.