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Sunday, April 28, 2013


scott freeman and Willard gayheart
I'm hearing Scott's new self-produced cd, BLUERIDGE FAR AWAY, a collection of songs that have a vibe about them that doesn't jangle me out of my nervous system relaxed at home. I've got to where I tend to listen to old-time banjo solo by old-timers like Jont Blevins, Gaither Carlton, Kyle Creed, Fred Cockerham. Whenever I want to put on some music to have in the air, I pick up one of them over and over. This project of Scott's has that non-hysterical vibe I've come to like more and more as I drift deeper into simple living. In my mind's eye I can see the musicians like a concert, and am able to pick out who is playing by their styles of picking. This is the music I have listened to the most over the last four years. It satisfies my ear totally. This project was familiar before I heard it. This is what we hear on Friday nights. Just reading the song titles I heard the album. It is a perfect album to have in the air at home. Every note of the musicianship is stellar. Scott makes his mandolin sing as beautifully as Dori sings. And when it comes to singing, Scott himself is a good singer. His talent with the mandolin and fiddle dominate how Scott is taken musically, but his singing is right there with his picking. I've noticed along the way the fiddlers who sing are excellent singers. They tend to play the notes with their voices. Scott's voice has a full range he uses subtly. He seems to be singing just plain like AP Carter, but paid attention to, he uses his voice to play music as much as his mandolin and fiddle.
dori freeman
This project is like a sampler of what we hear on Friday nights at the Fiddle and Plow Show in Woodlawn, Virginia. Everyone Scott chose to accompany him has played more than once at the Friday night show. Willard sings three songs on the project. Willard, too, is a singer who can deliver a song with reverence for the song itself. Dori sings two of the songs and sings harmony with Willard, her grandpa. It gives Willard a thrill of his life that his grandbaby is making music with him and sings so beautifully; they do shows together, record together, make music together. A few years ago Dori wasn't interested in singing or being in the music world. Then she sang publicly a few times, immediately starting her fan base, which has grown every show she performs. She writes a good song too. Wayne Henderson, who has known Dori all her life, made her guitar. Last Thursday evening Dori and David Long, the man she'd been waiting for, who plays mandolin and guitar, sings and writes a good song, played music at the Sparta library with Scott. As always, when I see Dori perform, the audience's focus is on her, every minute. On sight it seems like an audience is automatically drawn to her. Then they hear her sing and they are with her to the last note, no coughing, no chattering. Ears wide open. Dori has a quality in her singing that makes the songs she sings her own. She's singing Twilight Time at this moment with Scott's mandolin. This song from another time Dori brought into her time.    

steve lewis
Steve picks guitar some on the project. Steve is a picker who wins guitar and banjo contests all over the country. He has won a good collection of guitars and banjos. He and Scott make music together as one. Steve's guitar artistry I think of in relation to Wayne Henderson's as the difference between Earl Scruggs and Don Reno. Both truly excellent pickers with very different personal styles. Steve and Scott like to stretch way out there with one foot outside the box. Scott and Steve picking David Grisman's Eat My Dust is pickin hot as it gets, and cool. Everything they pick together is hot and cool as it gets. Steve is picking banjo and guitar with Scott singing, playing fiddle and banjo, bluegrassing Curly Headed Baby like it wants to be bluegrassed. Scott announced on facebook a week or so ago that he, Steve and a handful of their musician friends were recorded recently in Boone for a future Prairie Home Companion radio show. His note indicated the band would be called The Bluegrass Boys. It's kind of an audacious name to call themselves, but they are up to it. Steve picked his banjo and guitar one-after-the-other on the tune King's Carolina Bill. David Johnson played some good Dobro licks and Scott ended it with mandolin like a yellow jacket in attack mode. Everybody in the band has played Friday nights in Woodlawn. They will make a musical statement on Prairie Home Companion. Scott now playing Sweet Georgia Brown on mandolin with Scott Manring on guitar. Amazing. I hear every time I listen to Scott's mandolin the subtleties in his touch, juxtaposing loud and soft notes in a kind of iambic way, though certainly not restricted to that. 
david long and scott freeman
I've become tired over the years of the "contest favorite" Sweet Georgia Brown, but when Scott Freeman and Scott Manring play it, it's music again. I've heard Willard sing Don't You Dare Love Anyone But Me so many times I know all the words. Willard takes songs from the past and revitalizes them, like Won't You Ride In My Little Red Wagon and Nighttime in Nevada. I especially like Willard singing his own songs, the songs he has written over the years. It's good to hear Steve Lewis's banjo again in Kings Carolina Bill. Scott's song Talking To The Wino is another one of Scott's soulful songs he puts one of on each of his projects. One was Jean Ritchie's song, Black Water, about coal production in West Virginia and east Kentucky mountains. He also sings a gospel song soulfully. The label for this project, BLUERDIGE FAR AWAY, is Groundhog Shuffle Records, 2906 Cranberry Road, Woodlawn VA 24381. After about a decade of knowing Scott and hearing multiple times every song he has ever recorded, by now the music of this album is a review of the music I have come to love since first hearing his then existing band Alternate Roots. I find I think of Willard with Scott together musically. Willard has been Scott's rhythm guitar and vocal accompanist, musical partner for at least a quarter century, about all of Scott's adult life. He also married Willard's daughter Jill. Something about the vibe of their music corresponds to my own vibration. I've listened to every kind of music and by this time in the life am happy to have found this music. Their music and I fit like puzzle pieces. This is what I share in common with the twenty or so regulars that go to Willard's frame shop on Friday nights to hear the Scott and Willard sound.
scott, willard and mike gayheart (son of Willard)

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