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Saturday, April 23, 2011


scott freeman, edwin lacy, willard gayheart

Last night was the Edwin Lacy Show at the Front Porch Gallery, Woodlawn, Virginia. It was Edwin's night to play what he wanted. Being a devoted lover of God, he wanted to play gospel music, it being Good Friday, though that was not the motivation. Or maybe it was. A happy coincidence or well laid plan. Either way, it worked. Playing gospel music doesn't mean he wasn't playing music. Edwin, Willard and Scott lit the place up like usual. Yet, it was a different kind of show from usual. Edwin led at least 4, maybe half a dozen sing-alongs to verses of hymns everybody knew, led the audience in singing. He did it well. He totally connected with the audience from the start and by the time he felt everyone was ready, he set everybody in the place to singing with him as he played the banjo. In his presence with the audience, he was an all-round entertainer. Instead of telling jokes, he told humorous asides, made humorous observations. He kept the spirit in the place light-hearted and happy.

I'm not a sing-along type of guy, so during those songs, I sat, watched and listened, admiring Edwin's ease and seemingly carefree exchanges with the audience, bringing the audience into his show, and the sing-along not being corny, but comfortable, an at-home feeling for everyone, because everybody knew the songs since childhood, and he'd pre-printed stapled copies of the songs in large print. They were the foundation songs of everyone's life. I didn't make video of any of them, which today I'm seeing was the mistake I feared it might be at the time. I'd stopped at Selma's on the way to Woodlawn for an afternoon coffee to help me continue til 9 since I'd not had a nap and didn't sleep long enough the night before, after watching a 2 disk Pink Floyd concert.

What happened, was after holding the camera up for awhile, I could hold it past my tiredness, that's when the coffee kicked in and made the arms feel like it's only electrical charges holding them up, no effort at all. The coffee seemed to drain the strength out of my arms and then drain the strength out of the rest of me. I used the sing-alongs to take a break from holding the camera. I won't use a tripod because I want the motion of hand-held. Last night got a lot of motion.That's cool. I like it. I like it so much that when I look at a video made with tripod, it feels static. Like abstract painting came as a kind of reaction to the photograph. I like the camera to move about and wiggle as my own kind of reaction to the professionally made look. I want the amateur, anybody can do this look.

From the film Purple Rain, I got it that really bad acting can make the story seem more real, almost documentary. In like manner, the imperfectly hand-held camera makes the video feel to me more in the human dimension, soft-edged, moving edges. The eye focuses on the musicians themselves and their instruments, fingers dancing like chicken feet on hot plates, the center of attention. All around the periphery, the edges of the frame are in motion. It helps, too, to balance all the squares and rectangles on the walls, as an afterthought, not a motivation. Another reason I didn't make video of the sing-alongs, was I couldn't think of how. The lights were out over the audience and my impulse would have been to keep the whole audience and musicians in the picture. It didn't look right in my mind's eye at the time and I couldn't find a way to see it to go back and forth like a slow tennis game. In short, I was baffled. Also, was grateful for the break from holding up the camera. Took still photographs during those times.

Edwin, Scott and Willard made some mighty good music the rest of the time. The audience was plentiful, only two visitors, them from West Virginia. All others were the people who come to the show every week, or just about it, the people who know very well by now that no matter who is playing there, it's good. All know Edwin's music by now well enough to make it easy to put on a coat, pick up the keys and head out the door. Five dollars to get in is next to free anymore. We, the regulars, are the fan base for Edwin, Scott and Willard. We are the people they play music for every week. They have created their own audience over a year by playing every week. People drop in and come back and keep on coming back, and come to realize they'd rather hear these guys make music than just about anything. I'm speaking for myself, of course, and this is what I hear in conversation with the others. Everyone is awed every week.

I don't mean to identify Edwin the banjo-pickin preacher, because he is a preacher, Presbyterian. I think they might call him minister. I don't know what. I'm not of that persuasion and don't know much about it. Edwin is more a banjo picker who is also a preacher, or the other way around. He's not one to preach off the back of a pickup and use the banjo to draw a crowd, though he could and get a kick out of it. After Skeeter & the Skidmarks did their thing in early 90s, Edwin felt the call to seminary, went and was assigned to a church in Indiana. A transfer possibility came up for him to be stationed in Bristol. He got it and now he's back in the mountains again.

Scott asked him during one of the shows a few weeks back if he was going to leave this region again. Edwin said, "No. I learned my lesson." He said it with a conviction I understand. Anymore, for me just to drive outside this region of the mountains, or more specifically, Alleghany County, is always something I never want to do again. Of course, one must, but only when necessary. Woodlawn is pushing the envelope, but it's just across the county line and I can be home before bedtime. For Edwin, his absence was necessary. He's back and he's back to stay. The Skidmarks gonna rise again.


1 comment:

  1. I bet that banjo sounds as great as it looks. does he play it old time style?