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Saturday, July 2, 2011


found art by justin smith

I missed the July2nd FourthaJuly parade today. Needed to get to the drugstore before one and the parade started at two. Today's traffic in town was about as much traffic as Sparta gets. Already at 12:30 the drugstore parking lot was filling up. Got my prescription and made a bee-line out of town on the road to home. I thought about stopping at Selma's coffee shop and waiting for the parade. Parking spaces both sides of the street were occupied. I could have parked someplace else, but sitting at the red light waiting to make a left turn onto the road home, I talked myself into believing Selma's was full and nobody I knew would be there. I turned left and came home when the light changed. I thought about getting some pictures of the parade for you, but the paper will have several and I'm not really interested in covering newspaper stories. In like manner, I'm not interested in writing about people who's faces and names are in the paper regularly.

It also turns out that when traffic in Sparta is like it was yesterday and today, I get anxious like in city traffic. Friends here from Atlanta, we were driving into Sparta for groceries on one of the busiest days of the year. I made a remark about the traffic. They both said, "What traffic?" It gave perspective. After driving in a city, Sparta feels that way to me, what traffic? I've found a way of relaxing myself. I just keep the foot on the brake and talk to myself about being in no hurry. My reflexes have slowed and my visual attention isn't what it used to be. I like to drive at night when the least number of cars are out. One night I drove from Ennice to Whitehead and never saw one moving car, even driving through Sparta. Driving home from Fairview Ruritan I never saw another car on the road until I passed through Sparta and highway patrol stopped me for going too fast in a 35. He asked why I was in such a hurry. I said I wasn't in a hurry, just going home from a Larry Sigmon, Barbara Poole concert. It must have been the right answer. He just gave me a warning.

Last Saturday Ernest Joines asked me what a concert was. I said it was something like a band playing for an audience. I added that his band, The Rise and Shine Band, plays a concert at the Jubilee. He said that wasn't a concert. I guess he was thinking of big auditorium concerts, like Ralph Stanley at Fairview Ruritan. I don't know. Ernest gets a word like that in his mind sometimes and searches meaning until he finds one that answers his question. It may not be the same answer I'd arrive at, but it's Ernest's answer, not mine. That caused me to start wondering what constitutes a concert, like a jam is a group of musicians playing for an audience of half dozen or less, and would fit my definition of concert when it's not a concert. I suppose a concert might be when a band plays that the audience goes specifically to hear. Of course, that applies to a jam too.

Ernest's band is a dance bluegrass band. Evidently a concert doesn't include dancers. Though at a Sade concert in Charlotte with thousands of people, there was dancing in the aisles and dancing in place at one's seat, everywhere. The whole audience was people dancing. But it was a concert. I suppose Ernest thinks of his band as a dance band, not a concert band. Yet, when I go to the Jubilee, which is not a whole lot, because I'm not a dancer, I go for the concert, to hear the band. The dancing even makes the concert better. When bluegrass and old-time bands play a concert at the Rex theater in Galax on Friday nights they invite people to come down in front and dance. The dancers give energy to the band.

I'm thinking perhaps the notion of a concert came about in my lifetime and field of attention in the 60s when white kids quit dancing and the psychedelic bands of the time quit playing music that could be danced to. Then it's a sit down concert. But then, before that I saw Duke Ellington. It was a sit down and dance concert. I saw the two Alan Freed Rock & Roll Shows in 1958 and 59 that were sit down concerts of a dozen or more singers on the pop charts, like Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Bill Haley & the Comets, Fats Domino and others. Jerry Lee was scheduled to appear for the second show, but was laid out drunk. Larry Williams fell off the piano dancing on it drunk in the 2nd show. They were called shows, not concerts, which leads me to imagine concert came with the 60s sit down music. In the 60s and 70s, concert was a word with a golden glow. Gettin up for the concert.

I have to say it's a mystery to me what it is that makes a music show a concert. A week of wondering about it has made me pay more attention to Ernest's question than I did initially. At first, my response was something to the effect of, everybody knows that. But it turned out not to be so simple. Maybe it would help to look it up in the dictionary, but right now I'm more interested in the everyday life meaning by people using the word. It's not like it makes a whole lot of hair-splitting difference to me. Just one of those things to carry in the mind from time to time, a puzzle to think about driving on the highway.


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