edwin lacy (banjo) behind courtney burroughs
scott freeman, mandolin / doug rorrer, guitar
Gonna lay down my old guitar, sung by Doug Rorrer sounds to my ear the way the song sounds best. A lot of people have sung it and I've heard several, all of them good. It's one of them songs, like Goin down the road feelin bad, that sounds good any way its sung. Like lay down my old guitar can be sung several ways from folk song to bluegrass band. Doug's singing of this song pleases my ear. It's like Spencer Pennington singing East Virginia Blues on Whitetop Mountain Band's album, Bull +10%, sung the way that sounds to my ear just right. Like Willard singing Sweet Virginia. Like Audine Lineberry singing Ruby. Like Sara Carter singing I'm thinking tonight of my blue eyes, who is sailing far over the sea. Like Ralph Stanley singing Beautiful star of Bethlehem.
I love it when I hear a song sung just right. Another one done just right tonight was sung by Courtney Burroughs, who also played fiddle, when she sang Streets of London. She brought the song to life, made the song her own, like Julie London made Cry me a river her own. The show at the Front Porch was, in effect, The Hungry Hash House Ramblers, minus the bass player whose soul left the body a few years back, Doug's wife, Taylor's mother, Kathy. She sang Summertime on one of their albums. It wasn't Big Mama Thornton, who owns that song to my ear, but mama made her solo singing of it stand very respectably in among all the hard driving fiddle, banjo and guitar on the rest of the album. Her singing of it was like somebody opened the door and a soft breeze of fresh air entered the room.
I recognized Courtney on sight when I walked in the door as fiddler from a young bluegrass band Broken Wire. I'd heard them play live and once at the Rex theater on the radio. I was struck by her fiddle, thought she had something special in her fiddle and her voice. I spoke with her, mentioned her band Broken Wire, and she said she's not with them any more. I didn't ask if that meant she left the band or the band dissolved. I suspect the latter, because I believe the banjo player was killed on a motorcycle some months ago. Something like that can act as a hand grenade that blows the band apart. Jim Van Cleve and Scott Manring played fiddle tracks on the HHHR cds. Scott Freeman, who played mandolin with HHHR, I think played fiddle on a track or 2. Taylor also played fiddle with HHHR.
Courtney's fiddle and voice, she sang 2 songs, gave the band a refreshing spirit like Kathy gave it before. Doug Rorrer's great uncle was Charlie Poole, and Posey Rorrer, Charlie Poole's first fiddler, was also Doug's great uncle. Doug is behind the Charlie Poole festival at Eden, NC, every year now. He has a record label at Eden, where he lives, Flyin Cloud, in his house where he records and distributes cds, acoustic music by musicians of North Carolina leaning toward the mountains, like Kirk Sutphin and Wayne Henderson. The website: http://www.flyincloudrecords.com/ . The Hungry Hash House Ramblers have a website too, http://www.hungryhashhouseramblers.com/ .
Doug and Taylor have played guitar together for most of Taylor's life, and Taylor was his dad's equal some years ago. They make music together as one. Taylor has become quite good with the fiddle. It was a good show all way through. Edwin Lacy played banjo and HHHR's first album, The Butter Had Red Hair. You can find HHHR on YouTube, with Edwin Lacy playing his banjo on Mountain Reel and some others. This weekend I'll be uploading onto YouTube several videos from tonight's show. Write in the YouTube search box hobblealong1 and they'll be at the top of the list when they're up. They bear a good listen. Acoustic music at its best. I don't mean it's the very best. There's an awful lot of good music going around, and these musicians stand respectably among the very best.
Driving home I heard the last 45 minutes of the Whitetop Mountain Band playing at the Rex live. They sounded good. Thornton was fiddling. Martha sang Faded Love and made it her own. Martha also sang Ruby. Jackson Cunningham, Martha's feller, plays mandolin beautifully and sings a good song. They were in good spirit tonight. The musicians in Whitetop Mountain Band are in the same league of the musicians I'd just listened to for 2 hours. It was like there was no difference going from one to the other, except that they were different bands playing very differently, but they had the same spirit. I suppose that spirit is really good music. Both bands connected tonight and music was made in Southwest Virginia.