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Saturday, June 30, 2012


skeeter and the skidmarks

scott, edwin





edwin, sandy, willard

Skeeter and the Skidmarks did it to it again Friday night in Woodlawn, Virginia. We're in the third year now of the Fiddle and Plow series at Willard Gayheart's frame shop and gallery, the Front Porch.
It felt good to hear them again, not only to me, but to all the audience. Tonight it was mostly people who go regularly, but for one new woman who was liking what she was hearing. We who go almost every week have developed a fondness, even preference, to hear Scott Freeman and Willard Gahyeart with Edwin Lacy and Sandy Mason Grover. They are the original Skeeter and the Skidmarks from the first half of the 90s, reunited after several years Edwin was away at Presbyterian seminary, then stationed in Indiana. He came home a few times for activities with the Hungry Hash House Ramblers, a band with Scott and Doug Rorrer and Taylor Rorrer. When he went away, Scott and Willard put together Alternate Roots, a superb band that found Steve Lewis for lead guitar and banjo on their last two of four cds. Driving home I listened to an Alternate Roots tape in the car, Katy Taylor singing Killing the Blues, Out of the Blue, fine Alternate Roots songs with Randy Pasley on resonator guitar.

Alternate Roots is over, due to one thing and another. It's not good etiquette to ask band members what happened. A band is like a marriage. Their dysfunctions are not an issue to talk about. To say that one reason was it, everyone knows is just one of several reasons, possibly the straw and the camel's back. Skeeter and the Skidmarks is back. Edwin is back, stationed in Bristol this time. Takes him about as much time to drive there as it does me. He may have 15 minutes more. Skeeter came together for us, gave another stellar show of music that satisfied everyone who was spending their Friday nights listening to Scott, Willard, Edwin, Sandy, our friends. Every week we hear Scott and Willard open with a couple songs before the attraction. We of the audience have a warm affection for everyone in this band personally, individually. We're the core of their fan base. We're the ones who love them like family, good family. An interesting collection of people. When we run into each other somewhere else, our bond is Scott and Willard, the Front Porch music. We are the ones who love their music so much we return week after week.

Because I let Scott use a corner of my music store in Sparta one afternoon a week to teach kids from around here, he gave me a pass to Alternate Roots shows. I went to 14, and drove with my friend Jean when she was living, to Hilton's Virginia, for their last show at the Carter Fold. One of my favorite moments from that night was outside during intermission, talking with a man from the area about the Carter Family. The ground there was sacred. In the clear night I saw the Clinch Mountains in the light of the half moon. My first view of the Clinch Mountains the Carter Family and the Stanley Brothers made into a place as reverential as Wordsworth's Lake Country. For me, the Clinch Mountains are legendary, a place the Carter Family came from and the Stanley Brothers. Both Carter Family and Stanley Brothers bring tears to my eyes from the beauty of their songs and the singing, as well as my love for their tradition and the mountain culture that is theirs. That was a very special night for me. The Carter Family museum it cost 50c to enter that was AP Carter's store where he lived upstairs after Sara went to California to be with her Blue Eyes.

I feel privileged every day of my life that my parachute landed me in the Central Blue Ridge, the fountain of American music, a place where every weekend offers a great selection of places to go dance to old-time or bluegrass, or sit and listen. Local music that doesn't cost a lot for admission, and is good music. Whitetop Mountain Band, Crooked Road Ramblers, Slate Mountain Ramblers, Mountain Park Old-Time Band, Zephyr Lightning Bolts, Big Country Bluegrass, just the first ones to come to mind. The Blue Ridge Music Center, noon through 4, on the breezeway of the giftshop a different group of musicians Sun thru Saturday. Willard and Scott play there on Thursdays. Willard and Bobby Patterson play on Tuesday.

That music center is a gift from the USA Department of the Interior to us, the citizens. It seems like an awful lot, when nothing has been the rule since Reagan. It's such a sensible use of taxpayer money, money the working people worked for that they rendered unto Caesar against their will. The 1% don't like it when something happens to benefit anyone not of the 1%. Take the tax money from the people and put it into excessive military force to police the world protecting the  financial interests of the international corporations with bank accounts offshore, dodging taxes. In this time the way it is, I can't help but be in awe that the Dept of Interior trickled something down to us. It may have been approved before the Reagan administration. That's the only way I can see it happening. But I have a jaundiced view of the world; it's never as awful as I make it out to be. Hiroshima was a blast. Does the man who gave the order, and everyone down the chain of command to the one flying the plane carry a karmic debt. Did "wartime" absolve them from karmic return?

I digress. The music center is a jewel in these mountains in what it provides for us. I don't go a lot, but have gone quite a number of times over the years. I saw Alternate Roots play there. Alternate Roots was and still is my favorite band. I came to a place where pop music wasn't it any more; I'd found the pre-pop music of these hills, field recordings of old-time musicians living out in the mountains, unknown outside their music circle. I learned to appreciate local musicians in these mountains. I learned their musicianship is the equal of radio and tv musicianship, even better, because no corporate influence. I tell Scott, Willard and Edwin they are my new Rolling Stones. And I'm not kidding. I've always appreciated the Stones' musicianship, their unit as a band, the lyrics, the music. That's how I feel about Skeeter and the Skidmarks now. When Scott lights up the mandolin and the fiddle, it's awe every time. Same with Edwin's banjo. Sandy singing her Carter Family songs. There were times Willard's guitar came forward with some pretty strong rhythms working with Scott and Edwin. They had a nice, smooth flow. Each time they play, they approach the music differently. Sometimes a rhythm assault, sometimes like folk music. That's how I characterized in my mind their sound this time, nice, smooth flow. A good flow and it was smooth.


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