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Saturday, August 13, 2011



Listening to Galax Fiddler's Convention, Saturday night bluegrass. Three hours I've been listening. Don't want to turn it off. For several years I've been disappointed by the bluegrass bands playing at Galax. This time is different. Don't know if it's me or Galax. More inclined to think it's me. People I've talked with who pay closer attention to Galax Fiddler's Convention than I do have told me Galax has spells of really good bluegrass and really average bluegrass, same with old-time. If bluegrass has been taking a rest at Galax, it's on its feet now. Almost makes me wish I'd gone. But not quite. I'd rather hear it on the radio than drive to Galax, find a place to park for $10, walk a long ways, buy a ticket, enter the melee of thousands going in all directions at once. Find a place sit, sit there several hours wishing I'd stayed home and listened to the radio, thinking about $15 for gas, the same to get in, $40 total to wish I'd stayed home. The picture above tells why I stayed home.

I like a fiddler's convention, but I'd still rather listen at home. I like having cds of the music and hearing it on the radio. I like a live show too, but like home better. They are great experiences for musicians, for social people who like to be out seeing people they know, being in a scene, or whatever. A lot of people like to loiter in the parking lot listening to different mixes of musicians picking at the open trunklid of somebody's car where they keep the fruitjar. That was the old days. My personal preference is to sit and listen to what's happening on the stage, get a few photographs. I'd rather go to a small musical venue and hear a good show at the Front Porch Gallery at Woodlawn. I'd rather hear Willard, Scott and Edwin make music than just about anybody. I also don't have $40 pocketchange to let go of. That's a lot of coffee at Selma's and not quite a tank of gas.

Hearing some mighty fine fiddle, banjo and mandolin tearing up some song. Every band has a good banjo and fiddle. Heard a song earlier we know around here as Bear Tracks. They introduced it with another name, Slewfoot. A band from I think Connecticut played it. Whoever sang it did a good job of it. Somebody now is singing Our Little Cabin Home On The Hill in a Mac Wiseman style. Good band. I believe I heard them earlier. The MC tells who it is before they start, and don't tell when they're over, only their number. It's over. Didn't even tell number. Went straight into commercial. Turned it off. Don't want to hear commercials, esp country music radio commercials. They're awfully loud and aggressively demand attention. It's not music to my ears. I don't want a new truck. A band from Hillsville playing Big Spike Hammer, a song I've thought was called Della Mae. They're doing it right. Very well done mountain bluegrass. A promise of old-time coming up after a couple more bluegrass songs. Turned it off for a bit. A spell of silence.

On Buffalo Death Rattle's facebook page today appeared a link by someone the band met at Clifftop, Sean Johnson, to a YouTube video titled CLIFFTOP MOMENTS 2011. The video is by someone who goes by tackyjulie. It is a collection of videos tackyjulie made at the fiddler's convention, backstage, out among the tents, bunches of people jamming. There were 14 episodes of different jams. Buffalo Death Rattle was the 5th episode doing what they do best, tearing up whatever tune they're playing at the moment. They sounded good. Their segment opened with a dancer. Everything on that video was nice. Evidently the band was well received at Clifftop. Turned the radio back on. An old-time tune was getting ready to play and the feller doing the vocal said into the mic, "If y'aint right, get right." Whatever. It's Larry The Cable Guy deep, might mean fire up a bowl to anybody under 65. It could mean get right with Jesus. Probably he thought it was something wonderfully ambiguous to say. Like Bob Dylan said to an interviewer when asked what a particular song meant, It's mine to write them, yours to decide what they mean. The old-time part is where the music's at for me.

Oh boy! Roan Mountain Hilltoppers next, playing Train 45. This is a band with drive aplenty. They are gettin er done. They gave it their own sound. It was good to hear. Next Acoustic Heritage from Konnarock, which would be Debbie Grim Yates playing fiddle and vocals on Shortnin Bread. Every time I hear old-time music I'm grateful to God for the opportunity to have this music in my heart.


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