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Monday, September 27, 2010


lucas pasley, fiddle; chris johnson, banjo

Rain all day today, rain awhile and let up, rain awhile and let up. Fog all day with it. Not an outdoor day for cats. At the computer I wrote Sparta NC in the search box at YouTube and found a drive through Sparta from beyond the old pipe factory water tower into and through town all the way through almost to Blevins where the bypass comes in. It was called Main St In Sparta NC. It's worth the visit for the fun of it. A ride we know so well, everything familiar along the way. I like that smooth curve the road takes from the old pipe factory down and a curve to the right, then left to cross the bridge, then KFC and the smooth curve to the right. It has a nice flow through there. Actually, come to think of it, the road through Sparta has a smooth flow all the way through, up and down to Gap Civil. The traffic moves fairly well along there too. Except for Friday afternoons. It takes as long waiting to make a left turn onto Main St anywhere but at a light as it takes in Myrtle Beach to get onto hwy 17. A hundred times more cars there, but waiting for an opening with 4 lanes each way takes no longer than in Sparta.

Also found of local interest the Junior Appalachian Musician program band Borderline 3 years ago. They played Leather Britches and did a respectable job of it. When the audience caught on that these fellers were about making some music, the whoopin and hollerin started and then it settled down and everyone listened to these kids a-layin it to it, and roared for them when they were done. Chris Johnson, banjo, and Justin Willey, mandolin, got with Lucas Pasley, fiddle, teacher at the high school, and Justin Willey's dad, Jerod, who plays bass. They've gone on calling themselves Borderline. I've put up about 5 videos of them from a concert in the summer. I headlined it Borderline Old Time Band because there is an infinite list of things called Borderline. This title goes straight to it.

Lucas Pasely is a fiddler with a long list of fiddlers in his genealogy, a great-great uncle was Guy Brooks of the Red Fox Chasers, the first musicians from Alleghany to record, back in 1928.
Brooks was a preacher, I've been told, probably Regular Baptist, and was given his letter by the church over a record he made with the Red Fox Chasers, a comic kind of thing that was funny in the Twenties, the guys in the band talking like they're drinking and having a good time with some mountain liquor. It's still funny, today. But it didn't set too well with the people in the Association, the preacher making a record about being drunk and talking about drinking. Whether he took a drink (inhaled) was neither here nor there. That must have been why he moved to Wilkes County and wasn't heard much from anymore, as far as I know, which isn't much, and probably inaccurate. Lucas Pasley, whose grandmother was a Brooks, has that natural ability to pick up a stringed instrument and figure it out right away and has the intelligence to hone his playing to mastery. It's good for him to have some teenage energy pushing him to make that fiddle bow do its thing.

Borderline is already a band in the county. There is the Jubilee band, Rise and Shine Band and Town and Country, where some of the better musicians in the county are playing. I believe Borderline has played at the Jubilee a time or two. Being young musicians, they're given the stage quite a lot and by now they've played about everywhere around here, and always to a happy crowd. When they come out on the stage you see a bunch of kids. When the music starts, it's just a few seconds into it you know this is going to be some music. They have drive in abundance. These boys are going to make some excellent musicians. They already are. It's fun for me to see a band in its early years and watch them mature. It's how it was in the old days, people paying attention to a young fiddler or banjo or guitar picker and watching them over the years at fiddlers conventions, watching them go from #10 to #1 over a period of years, watching them mature and become known as one of the better ones around. I've listened to some old men in their 80s tell of watching such fiddlers as Thornton Spencer and Jeff Michael improve over the years to where they've become masters.

The music at the Front Porch Gallery is good as it gets every week. I don't know how long it will last into winter, and feel like I don't want to miss anything, because there's no music better anywhere around. May be the equal, but none better. Scott Freeman and Willard Gayheart put the show on each week and have a guest artist they accompany as needed. When Johnny and Jeanette Williams played there, it was on the moment they hit their first licks. Using a 5star rating system like netflix, I'd give all the bands that played there 5 stars. Scott showed a list of who will be there over the next month and it's more of the same, music as good as it gets. It's curious to all dozen of us who go there regularly why there are never more than a dozen or 14.
It can only hold about 2 dozen comfortably. We who go regularly are happy as kids for 2 hours every Friday night. We've come to know each other and it's turned into a house party. The musicians love to play for a small crowd like that. It's intimate the way music is shared best.

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