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Saturday, April 2, 2011


scott freeman, edwin lacy, willard gayheart

scott freeman

willard gayheart

edwin lacy

Tonight's music at the Front Porch was Scott Freeman and Willard Gayhart playing together. Edwin Lacy was invited to sit in on half a dozen or so tunes with his banjo. One of the fun aspects of seeing these 3 making music is each one thinks the other 2 are as good as it gets. They love making music together. It's like there is something that flows between them musically that is unique and separate from each of them, but present when they are involved making music together.

Edwin and I were talking after the show tonight of how good Scott and Willard are together, that we are hoping they will make an album together doing the old songs Willard sings so well, like Coney Island Washboard, Sweet Virginia, Roley Poley, Silver Dew On the Bluegrass, Take Me Back To Tulsa. I told Willard this evening that these years of listening to him singing from in the time of Alternate Roots and Skeeter & the Skidmarks, plus some other projects, I'm now catching myself singing in my head such songs as Sweet Virginia and I know the words, told him Skeeter & the Skidmarks are my new Rolling Stones. Instead of going around with, "Brown Sugar, how come you dance so good?" in my mind, I'm going about with my head hearing, "the thing I dreaded most was that old dark holler's ghost, Ern and Zorie's sneakin bitin dog."

Willard sang some songs he wrote, like The Workin, about farmers helping each other at harvest time, and The Shootin, about a gunfight near where he lived when a kid. Scott played some almighty fiddle tunes, Ashoken Farewell, Billy In The Lowground, and he played Tammy on the fiddle. I did my best to erase my own associations with that song and listen to it as a fiddle tune, but couldn't make it. It was still Sandra Dee, Debby Reynolds and Ann Margaret. I couldn't erase that singing of it from the 50s from my mind. All the fiddle did was bring it back to mind, and I never liked it then. I didn't like being reminded of it, though that was neither here nor there. It's to please an entire audience they play, not just to please me.

I can't remember who sang Tammy back then, but the memory of it makes my skin crawl, like the Lennon Sisters singing Tonight You Belong To Me, Pat Boone singing Love Letters In The Sand, The Four Lads singing Moments To Remember, "the year we tore the goalpost down." Music the other kids at church were listening to when I was listening to Little Richard and Chuck Berry. "Long Tall Sally she's built for speed, she's got everything that uncle John need." Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon at the beach didn't trip my trigger either. I wanted to hear Ray Charles sing Lonely Avenue and Slim Harpo sing King Bee, Big Maybelle, Big Mama Thornton, Ivory Joe Hunter, Big Joe Turner, so I mostly listened to the black station in Kansas City to avoid those silly songs like Tammy. And the white station didn't play hardly any of that really good music I heard on the black station. The Turbans, The Penguins, the Cadillacs, Shirley and Lee. This is what I listened to while the other white kids listened to Tammy.

The song didn't cross over to fiddle tune for me. I wouldn't even want to hear Henry Mancini songs from Breakfast at Tiffany's made into fiddle tunes. Like when I hear Edwin Lacy play the Theme from Dr Zhivago that makes a great banjo tune, I see in my mind's eye a memory of one of the worst movies I've ever seen and certainly don't want to see again. The only thing I liked in the movie was the horses running across the ice with snow on it. While everybody else was swooning because it's such a beautiful banjo tune, I was trying to get free of those associations so I could hear it freshly, but they wouldn't go away. Those are my associations, not Lacy's nor anybody else's. I can let my attention wander somewhere else until it's done. Or just listen and enjoy it reminding myself this is Edwin Lacy playing a banjo, not a dorky David Lean movie.

It's always good music Scott, Willard and Edwin make. Again, every week I feel privileged to be there in the presence of such beautiful music.made by musicians who play music first.


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