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Tuesday, November 9, 2010


scott and willard

The last couple days I've been listening to Skeeter & the Skidmarks about all day. Already knew their music pretty well, now know it a lot better. As long as I've known Scott, I've seen his bands Alternate Roots, that made 4 terrific albums, and Skeeter & the Skidmarks that made 2 as art projects. Scott is an artist. Willard is an artist. Mountain musicians are artists. In the world of the art of making mountain music, these guys are very well respected artists. Mountain music is an art form the same as sculpture, painting, writing. Both Willard and Scott write songs and arrange songs for their sound. Willard also is a pencil artist making drawings of mountain people, mountain musicians, past and present.

I appreciate these people as musicians, as artists. They don't WoW the audience with showy pickin. They just play the instrument the best it can be played, the song as well as it can be played, and sung with understanding that makes the song their own. If you get it, you get it, if you don't, you don't. They don't show off as musicians. Their artistry is involved with making the music first. It's straight-forward pickin that keeps the flow of the music in motion. When they're pickin it's as good as pickin gets. You hear it or you don't. They don't ever call attention to their skills as pickers, nor do they get carried away acting out the emotion of the song when the words do it well enough. It's something they share with the Carter Family, who sang mountain music the mountain way.

When Alternate Roots existed, Steve Lewis, the bluegrass banjo picker, was Scott's musical partner. They can smoke a tune together. They make a good team. Scott has the same musical kinship with Edwin Lacy's old-time banjo as with Steve's bluegrass banjo. Lacy's old-time banjo is every bit as dynamic as a bluegrass banjo. Skeeter & the Skidmarks, which preceded Alternate Roots, was a creative band with Scott, Edwin and Willard writing songs, using rhythms of their own. Willard is the right rhythm guitar player for Scott to make music with like Barbara Poole's bass was right for Larry Sigmon.

I'm glad Skeeter is coming back together with Edwin Lacy returning from Indiana to Bristol. The 4 of them, Sandy included, have a certain "chemistry" as a band. They connect musically in such a way something special happens in the music when they play. It is a sound that is all their own. When they play an old-time tune or a bluegrass tune, they "Skeeterize" it, make it their own. It's been a good couple of days engaged with their music, hearing it all day. It's music I listen to closely like to the Alban Berg Quartet playing Dvorjak or anything else. I can't half way listen to their music. It commands my full attention for the beauty of it like when Thelonious Monk and Charlie Rouse play Straight No Chaser. I like the energy Skeeter & the Skidmarks generate as a band. Looking forward to their next album.

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