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Friday, June 17, 2011


the jam

doug blevins, david joines, george flippen

gary joines, ernest joines, george eller

george flippen

david joines

gary joines and ernest joines

Tonight was the first Thursday night jam at the Jubilee in Sparta. It's at jams that musicians get together to make music on a night during the week. The only one I didn't know before tonight was the fiddler, George Flippen, nephew of Benton Flippen. He was the husband of Joncie Church I'd known years before when she lived here. Her maiden name Pruitt. We went to Millard Pruitt's Regular Baptist Church. She lost her husband Clifford Church. I never saw or heard of Joncie after that. She was there tonight sitting talking with Agnes when I arrived at the Jubilee. It has been many years since I've seen Joncie. This present husband, George Flippen, is a Primitive Baptist preacher down the mountain at State Road. She has been through every kind of medical nearness of death that can happen to somebody in that amount of time. She's been in hospitals for long extended stays.

The musicians were connecting somewhat. It appeared this was the first time almost all of them had made music together. Ernest Joines and Gary Joines have made quite a bit of music together. George Eller hadn't played his banjo in five years since his partner in music fiddler Fred McBride died. George Flippen hadn't played with other musicians in I think he said twenty years. David Joines is something of a regular at the Crouse House jams on Monday nights in the old-time room. I didn't know Doug Blevins picked. Going by his guitar, I'd say he can pick pretty good. Nobody tonight got to really get down and make some music. Each one's playing style was unknown to the others. They got together when they found a tune everyone knew. All of them coming together from different musical gatherings, they know different songs from each other. It sounded to my ear like everyone was attempting to get going together and flow with some music, but it never quite happened. Several times they got a groove going for awhile in a tune they all knew.

I spent the early part of the jam talking with Joncie and Agnes. Joncie was telling me what she'd been through since last time I saw her, which was considerable. Joncie's new husband has in him a great deal of caring for her. He's been a good support for her. It was "old times" with Joncie, talking between twenty and thirty years ago. We sat and talked for over an hour, talking old people talk, illnesses, the dead, the way things used to be. Sparta before 3 stoplights. Strangely, sitting there talking like old people talk, it felt more like talking with peers. When we were younger, we talked about what interested us. In old age what interests us are the miracles of contemporary medicine and the expense. 

The second hour of the jam I spent photographing everybody from one place. I don't like to go up to people with camera to get a closeup. The camera has a zoom lens, so I pick a place to photograph from, where I can see as many as possible from the front. In a circle, that's kind of hard to do. I want to be nearly invisible to the musicians, certainly not a distraction. I like to stay in one place and zoom for however I want the picture composed. I'm enjoying making portraits of the musicians playing their individual instruments. A little over a year of photographing musicians at the Front Porch in Woodlawn, almost once a week, I've found the manner of photographing musicians that satisfies my aesthetic sense for pictures of musicians making music. Many can do it better than I, which still allows me the right to evolve and to grow in my own art form. I don't have to be the best. Needing to be the best makes ulcers. Why give oneself ulcers for art? 


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