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Saturday, September 4, 2010

WAYNE HENDERSON AT FRONT PORCH



helen white and wayne henderson
Tonight was Wayne Henderson night at the Front Porch Gallery in Woodlawn, Virginia. About double the usual number of people there. It was comfortable for everyone. I found a place to get pictures from that was out of everyone's way and in the back. Wayne and Helen wowed the audience with good picking, good fiddling, good singing, good music. From the back I can see the entire audience all the time, and they were feeling good. It was a similar good feeling as the night before in the Sparta library with Willard Gayheart and Bobby Patterson. It felt good to relax in there with good music in the air, everyone there to hear it. Wayne started with Down Yonder, did his virtuoso fiddler's convention kind of picking, because that's what everyone there wants to hear. From there, he engaged the audience to sing along Take Me Out To The Ballgame. They played and Helen sang some Carter Family songs, Sweet Fern one of them. Helen played her fiddle. She can play a fiddle too. Helen is one of the respected fiddlers of the region. I saw her play Pullin The Wagon at Galax a few years ago and was knocked over by how good she was. I knew she played a fiddle, but didn't know she played like that.
Helen accompanied Wayne mostly with guitar, keeping rhythm for him. They were relaxed and played in a relaxed manner, though without diminishing the drive. It was another night of the audience, myself among them, satisfied we were hearing some good music played by real musicians. Every instrument in the place tonight, including Scott's and Willard's were Henderson made. Mike Gayheart, son of Willard, showed up with a bass for the 2nd half of the show. Scott told me Mike bought the bass from Audine Linebury, the bass played on the Tommy Jarrell / Kyle Creed / Bobby Patterson / Audine Linebury album, June Apple. It is the old-time album of old-time albums. Linebury also played with Whit Sizemore's band, the Shady Mountain Ramblers. I believe she's won Galax multiple times. It was a powerhouse of music tonight with roots running all through SW Virginia and NW North Carolina traditional music.
Scott and Willard opened the show with 2 songs, beautifully done, as always, I'm Going Back To The Blue Ridge Mountains. They have played that song so many times together they have a flow between them now that gets a little more practiced every week. They play it during the week at the Blue Ridge Music Center too. It's a major enjoyment for me to be witnessing these performances week after week. The music is consistently so good it makes the hour drive there and the hour back as nothing. I go there in anticipation and return in satisfaction. I feel privileged and honored to be one of the dozen or so people who go regularly, just to know it's happening and to be there. It's like there is this little spot with the best music in the central Blue Ridge playing there week after week, and I happen to be one of a few who goes to hear it. Music like this is all over the mountains. There are jams during the week in various counties. Every county has at least one place where you can hear bluegrass and / or old-time on weekends. The music is so good, it's ever an amazement for me that so few people go to hear mountain music. It doesn't get played much on tv except in b&w Mickey Mouse cartoons.
Dori Freeman came to the stage area after intermission with her brand new Henderson guitar to
sing 2 songs. After the second one, the whole audience stood up for her, clapping and asking for more. She went back and sang a third. Scott accompanied her with the mandolin, and her uncle Mike Gayheart played the bass. Dori is a beautiful singer. She has a good voice and she plays with sounds when she sings so it's not mono singing; it has dimension. If she gets out singing in different places, she'll get her stage confidence going and she'll grow as a singer by leaps and bounds. The stage experience, the guitar playing, the singing will help her writing too. I look forward to seeing Dori grow into who she's becoming. Right now she's busting open with creativity like a flower bud about to pop.
Wayne and Helen returned to the stage, Scott, Willard and Mike with them. They played and Willard sang My Henderson Guitar. They made a good band. Willard sang it with special feeling, Wayne beside him pickin and the house was full of Henderson instruments. Their playing of the song was something of a celebration of Wayne as guitar maker, guitar picker and friend. The good feeling among the musicians flowed into the audience. By the time the music was over, it seemed like the whole place was satisfied. The musicians were and everyone in the audience was. It was a happy occasion for all concerned.

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