The Fiddle & Plow show in Woodlawn featured the Siamese Cousins. They are Scott Freeman, mandolin and fiddle, Edwin Lacy, banjo, and Willard Gayheart, guitar. Scott and Edwin call themselves the Siamese Cousins, joined at the fret. The Siamese Cousins is what they called themselves on their Mountain Roads recording, 2 Chairs No Waiting. Willard is on the cover picture with them, and plays guitar on some of the songs. These three are the core of the music at Woodlawn on Friday nights. Scott and Willard open every week with two songs. They then turn it over to the guest band or duet or individual. They play with some of the people who play there. When Dori is featured, Scott and Willard, and sometimes Edwin make music with her. When bluegrass banjo artist Butch Robins is the guest, Scott and Willard accompany him. Scott and Willard are ideal accompanists. They support musically whoever they're making music with. They do not upstage them, out-play them, none of that. Scott, Willard and Edwin are respectful of each other musically, as in conversation. In conversation, they talk about whatever subject at length, neither one talking over the other. They ride the flow of the music together. This is part of what makes them such excellent musicians. No one of them outshines the others, yet they're all so good they can play all out showing their stuff, keeping up with each other like race cars going side by side around a curve, three-wide, and they make it. Whiskey Before Breakfast.
I've got bad in that their music satisfies me so much that I can't think of any other music that satisfies me as much. Scott and Willard's band, Alternate Roots, satisfied my musical ear completely. So does their band Skeeter & the Skidmarks. They are two very different bands, though both have Scott and Willard's sound. Their sound is a fusion of Scott's sound and Willard's. By their sound, I mean the way they approach a tune, their flow together that blends their individual sounds like the natures of the two parents become the nature of their child. They sing duet well together, vocally and with their strings. When Edwin is with them, it's a blend of the three, the sound of Skeeter & the Skidmarks, minus Sandy. Skeeter is the sound of these four people. No one of them is replaceable for the Skeeter sound. When it's Steve Lewis's banjo, it's the Alternate Roots sound. Driving to the show, I took the Parkway, was cruising along thinking about my love for the band, Alternate Roots. I think I saw them 14 times, the last show at the Carter Fold, my only time there. It takes a lot for me to drive 3.5 hours, one way, to hear some music. It was a beautiful night with my friend Jean, who loved the band as much as I did. I recall standing outside with Jean during intermission smoking cigarettes, talking with other people outside smoking. In front of me was the night silhouette of the Clinch Mountains under a half moon. The Clinch Mountains of the Carter Family and the Stanley Brothers.
During second half of the show, the man sitting in front of me had moved his chair back a ways. I tend to lean forward when listening to music or to someone talking. It's unconscious. I just notice I do it. I also tend to sing along muttering under my breath. I know the words to all Willard's songs, Ern and Zorie's Sneakin Bitin Dog, My Henderson Guitar, A Turn Toward The Light. I've heard them so many times they've become a part of who I am. Like in my teenage years when I knew the words to all Little Richard's and Chuck Berry's songs listened to on 45rpm. Later, I knew the words to Rolling Stones songs and Bob Dylan songs from playing them so much. Then it was Patti Smith lyrics I sang along to, and Nina Hagen, the Cars, Jane's Addiction and Mazzy Star. Then I discovered mountain music and loved it so much I dove in head first. Mountain music is the only music I have ever heard that can make tears run down my face from the beauty of it. At one Ralph Stanley concert at Fairview Ruritan, tears ran down my face the entire show. Ralph Stanley's artistry is that his singing is not just from the heart, it is his heart singing. He is the voice of these mountains. I won't make such a big fuss over Willard, but he has the soul of the mountains flowing through him, as do Scott and Edwin. To my understanding of mountain music, they are playing in the tradition, playing their own sound that in some cases is new to the tradition, advancing the tradition.
A few times I caught myself singing along out loud not many inches from the back of the man's head in front of me. He must have hated it. He probably heard me chuckling at myself, too, for being so unconscious. Above, is Roye, Edwin Lacy's wife. That's not a foot-long cigarette sticking out from her lips. It is a line on the wall behind her. This isn't a Forties movie. Again, my unconsciousness failed to notice it while snapping the picture. I didn't want her knowing the camera was taking the picture, so I adjusted the monitor screen upward, put camera on my leg to keep it still, aiming not to catch her attention with the camera, holding it like it was resting on my lap, and got some nice pictures of her profile without her noticing. I was wanting to get her face hearing the music unselfconsciously. Good people. The kind of people I'm honored to be among. Driving home I was thinking of how honored I feel as a member of the Whitehead community. I feel the same degree of honored to have what has turned out to be ten years of friendship with Scott and Willard and their families, eventually Edwin, and now Roye. The five of us went to supper at El Torito in Galax. Edwin bought for everybody with the money he made at the show, and I fell in love with the waitress. These are honorable people, and that's what I love about them. They show me it is very simple to be a true human being. This is part of my learning from mountain people. Many of them, mountain people I have known, a small pie slice, have taught me that it is easy to be a true human being, the simplest way to live.
across the road from willard's front porch gallery