Last night was Gerald Anderson night at the Front Porch in Woodlawn. He's a guitar picker and a guitar maker. Makes mandolins too. He has a good reputation for both pickin and putting the instruments together. He learned making guitars from Wayne Henderson, and works in his corner at Wayne's shop. He is a friend of Scott's and Willard's, like everyone else who plays at the Front Porch. Like the other musicians who have played there, Anderson expressed his liking for the small venue where the musicians can jam with an audience.
Today I'm uploading videos from last night to YouTube, reviewing each one before it goes up, remembering the music last night, the comfortable, friendly atmosphere among everyone present, recalling moments from concerts past at the Front Porch, and again reviewing my own gratitude to have this opportunity to hear incredibly good mountain music of the present moment; old-time, bluegrass, swing, ballad. All are good singers. All are excellent musicians all the way around. Scott and Willard are good hosts to their guests too. They support the guests with good rhythm, good musicianship, just plain good pickin. They hold up the guest musically, make him/her sound the best they can sound, never attempting to outdo the guest at picking or singing. Scott and Willard are never shy to make music. The music flows when they're behind it.
I was recalling a time, can't remember the year, 05 or 06, Scott Freeman entered the first mandolin competition at the Wayne Henderson Festival on Mt. Rogers. He imagined he would get second place, which he wanted, because the prize was a Wayne Henderson mandolin. First prize was an Anderson mandolin. Scott had an Anderson mandolin and wanted one by Henderson. He slipped up and got first. Another Anderson mandolin. No problem. Except he had an hour's drive full-tilt to get to the Blue Ridge Music Center on the Parkway where his band Alternate Roots was playing. They were scheduled to play first, but the other band, the Whoopin Holler String Band (The New Ballard's Branch Bogtrotters with Jake Krack of West Virginia playing fiddle) went ahead and played first due to Scott having to stay at the Festival to play at the end for winning the competition.
Scott knows how to drive mountain roads and he arrived backstage about one minute before they were to go on. Everybody was anxious. He walked in, they walked on stage and started. Scott was playing his new Anderson mandolin. In a break during a bluegrass song the band was playing, Scott smoked that mandolin. Steve Lewis on banjo looked over at him like, what flew up your derriere? Scott went on and on, cutting loose completely playing at the apex of his skill, and it was something to behold. One of those unforgettable concert moments. Playing the Anderson he won hoping for the Henderson, but not complaining.
Something else I hear the guests mention every week, in addition to what Gerald Anderson said about liking the small venue and making music with such good musicians as Willard and Scott. It frequently gets mentioned by the guest musician that Willard has been a "hero" to them musically, and it's a delight for them to have a chance to make music with him. Willard told me before the show that Edwin Lacy is getting transferred from Indiana to Bristol. He will be close enough that Skeeter and the Skidmarks can get going again. Willard said the particular combination of people in the band gave it a special energy. We spoke of how they played a few weeks ago, in the groove from start to finish. He called it a chemistry running through all the musicians in the band. His eyes lit up when he said they'd be able to play more with Edwin nearby. Skeeter and the Skidmarks do have an extra good energy in their music.
You can check out Gerald Anderson's website here: http://www.andersonstrickland.net/