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Saturday, January 7, 2012


     scott freeman (l), willard gayheart (r)

     scott freeman and willard gayheart

     willard gayheart

      scott freeman

     cynthia grant

Last night, Friday night, more music lit up the air in Woodlawn, Virginia. Scott Freeman and Willard Gayheart made the music. A Scott and Willard show has become my favorite of the shows at the Front Porch Gallery, the Fiddle and Plow show. I can say without fear of rational contradiction, both Scott and Willard are as good as it gets in the mountain tradition of the Central Blue Ridge in their time. Like Scott told me some years ago when I mentioned his band Alternate Roots was a really good band. He said, "There's lots of good bands." That has stuck with me as indelible. I don't know how many times I've quoted him and multiple more times thought about it. Indeed, an awful lot of good bands are everywhere. The other day on YouTube I clicked on a band called The Hillbilly Gypsies playing Hazel Dickens' song, West Virginia My Home. I wanted to see if a band with so good a name could live up to it. They did. They are among the many "good bands." I can't help but say, Praise the Lord, we have so many good bands, so much good music in our time. But, Alternate Roots was exceptional among good bands.

I found myself singing along to about every song either Willard or Scott sang. I had to watch it while working the video camera, because I have unconsciously sung along in the past and it turns up on the video. I don't mind that. It's one more of those live audience things that happens like somebody walking across the camera's view. I don't get annoyed when that happens. When somebody stops from courtesy before entering the camera's field, I encourage them to go ahead, wishing I could take a moment and explain--I love it when you do that--but I motion with one hand, unable to talk. It works out either way. If they choose not to walk in front of camera, that's ok too. I like the approach comfortable with whatever happens. It doesn't make "good" video, but it makes the kind of video I like. There's plenty of good video going around. I've had a few people give me tips on how to make better videos, but I don't follow their advice, because I know why I don't do what they want me to do.

Back to what I was getting at, that I now know the words to the songs they sing. Last night I heard myself vocalizing with the singing, keeping it below a whisper. It used to be with David Bowie, Hot tramp, love you so, or the Stones, It's them honky-tonk, honky-tonk women, dat gimme, dat gimme, dat gimme de honky-tonk blues, or Bob Dylan, People call, say beware doll, you're bound do fall, you thought they were all kiddin you. Now I'm singing along with a western swing, Won't you ride in my little red wagon, I can haul you down the street, and Roly poly, daddy's little fattie, bet he's gonna be a man some day. And best of all, Willard's singing of Yellow Rose of Texas, She's the sweetest Rose of color this poor boy ever knew, her eyes are bright as diamonds, they sparkle like the dew. The yellow Rose is not a flower. She's a woman named Rose. These are the songs I carry in my head now, after more than a year of listening to Scott and Willard almost every week. They open every week's show with two songs, then turn the show over to the guest. Sometimes they give a show of just them. It's always my favorite show when it's Willard and Scott. That's how it is with the dozen to twenty people in the audience who go every week they can.

I took my friend Cynthia Grant along for the show. She's teaching Appalachian Studies in Sparta at the WCC community college extension branch. She's a good teacher. I sat in on one of her classes last year and was struck by what a good teacher she is. Before we left Selma's coffee shop to drive to Woodlawn, Selma was talking about several people get together and leave the coffee shop as the starting point, go to dinner in Galax and on to the show in Woodlawn, some Friday night in near future. We learned last night that Skeeter and the Skidmarks will be playing in two weeks. That will be a great show for a party. I'm imagining the half dozen or so who would be going, and I'm knowing in advance that every one of them will love the experience. Skeeter puts on a good show. It's Willard and Scott's present band with Edwin Lacy playing banjo and Sandy Grover playing bass. They have put on four shows at the Front Porch, every one a gem.

I've not put any of last night's songs onto YouTube yet, but will upload a few. Willard and Scott have several videos now on YouTube if you'd like to see them. Write either one of their names in the search box and everything with them will come up. Everything they do is good, so any selection process of song would be no better or worse quality than any other. Plenty of Skeeter and the Skidmarks is there too. For me, it was a great enjoyment to introduce Cynthia to Willard and Scott's music and the venue. She enjoyed it as much as I imagined she would. Cynthia has the ability to appreciate art in whatever form it presents itself. She's a museum curator by profession, came to Sparta hired to direct the Teapot Museum in Sparta in it's last months. She was given a bit of a raw deal, and has chosen to stay here because she likes it here. But it's coming to a place she needs to get on to someplace where she can have work that pays something she can live with. She's applying for work in various places and will probably find something. Everyone at the coffee shop will miss her. That's not to be worried over today. We'll wish Cynthia the best when the time comes. She's not one to forget her friends.

I get a lot of still shots during a show, as well as video. This picture above of Scott catches his fiddle playing best of what I got last night. This one came with his last note. I was going after a picture with his bow hand in the picture. My camera has a delay from pushing the button to snapping the picture. Quite a lot changes in that half second of time when musicians are in motion. When I pushed the button when his hand was in view, the hand was out of view when the camera clicked the picture. I tried snapping the picture when his hand was out of view, and it stayed out of view when the camera did it's part. I went through half a dozen or more trying to get that hand in the picture. The very last note, his hand slowly came into view and stayed there long enough for the camera to catch it. It was while he was playing Ashoken Farewell. I was happy with this picture of Willard playing his guitar, too.


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