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Saturday, October 15, 2011


          the possum creek boys
     helen and dottie (backstage managers)

     gracen lucas and joe wyatt

     hillbilly wes

     the red hat dancers

     mason wagoner

Friday night is practice night for the Hillbilly Show that plays on Saturday night. It ought to be a pretty good show, though you couldn't tell it by what we saw tonight. About half the people showed up. Several of the ones that did show up weren't ready with their performance. But we've learned by now, year after year, that Friday night is a disaster and Saturday night a success. Most often Agnes Joines, the director, goes home in tears after Friday night and is inconsolable until Saurday night when the Hillbilly Show is happening and it's working out. Everybody did their part really well, no dead time between acts, the audience didn't clear out during intermission, and Agnes heard nothing but wonderful things about the show on the telephone after she got home. I actually expect the show to sell out and people be turned away. She's never advertised much before and the auditorium was almost filled. This time it's big advertising and lots of it. 

I find myself telling people I know from Away the Hillbilly Show is not for them. It's mountain people entertaining mountain people with mountain humor. It's not like the humor of the suburban middle class that holds Jay Leno and and a few others suitable humor. Hillbilly Show humor is, like I said, specific to the mountain people. In the first year of my store, I recommended it to visitors as something going on that is Sparta specific. They left in the exodus of people from Away at intermission, walking at a measured pace, containing their desire to run to the car and lay rubber all the way to the highway. Now when somebody from Away talks about going, I encourage them to stay away. It's slap-stick corn-pone and old-time fiddle and banjo music. People from Away, in my experience, always come away disappointed and laughing at it. I say it's not for them. It's for mountain people, by mountain people. However, if one can let go of expectations and receive it as it is, it's a wonderful show full of good times. 

This year things ran so smoothly backstage that I was lonesome much of the time standing at the ropes for pulling the curtain open and closing it. I like that job, because it's out of everybody else's way, except the children that run up and down the stairs where I'm stationed like it's an aerobics class for kids trying to pretend to be doing something. Running is play, and they run. I stood back and let them go by. They were not in anybody's way. They were staying in the wings, so to speak. I was laughing. You get a couple of kittens together and they play chase. Get some young dogs together and they play chase. Get some kids together and they play chase. I'm not going to be the one to inhibit primal behavior so deeply rooted. It would be like training a dog not to scratch fleas. Run younguns, run. They're tickled and happy when they're running. I wasn't going to be the white-haired adult to throw cold water on their fun. In the blink of an eye, they'll be working some crummy low-paying job, making payments on cars, houses, appliances, big-screen tv on the wall; then, when they can't afford another can of catfood per month, the baby arrives with more, sometimes debilitating payments. Run while it's in ye. In another blink of an eye, you won't be able to run. 


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