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Saturday, November 9, 2013

SKEETER & THE SKIDMARKS LIGHT UP THE NIGHT SKY

skeeter and the skidmarks
scott freeman, edwin lacy, sandy mason, willard gayheart
 
skeeter and the skidmarks
 
Friday night, Skeeter & the Skidmarks lit up the sky over Woodlawn VA with traditional music Skeeterized. Their music holds the audience's attention and doesn't let go. Sometimes I closed my eyes to hear better and the difference was radical. It's the best example I know for how sight limits hearing. I watch these four people whose music I've listened to long enough that I know all the words, hearing them make music, watching them pick and sing, wowed by every moment, happy to be in the presence of this music as good for the soul as laughing. I close my eyes and the quality of the sound I'm hearing increases what seems like immeasurably. I understand why Doc Watson had such a good ear for playing his guitar and banjo, why blind musicians seem to hear the music they are making more clearly than ones distracted by sight. I get into a grove with my eyes closed, sit flowing with the music, open my eyes and the music changes. Eyes closed, it is more like listening to a cd at home, relaxed, grooving to the sound. Eyes open, it's a bunch of people picking their instruments, it's even social in that I see I am among about forty people and know a lot of them. I might be looking at what Willard is doing with his guitar strings while Scott is tearing up his mandolin. I'll miss much of what Scott is doing because my focus is on Willard's strings. I pay attention to what Scott is doing and I lose what Edwin is doing. Sometimes I focus my attention on Sandy, because that's when I best hear what she's doing with the bass. Eyes closed, everybody's individual sound flows with the other sounds as a unit. I like the concert experience of eyes open awhile, closed awhile. To my ear, it is two different musical experiences in one. A quarter century ago at a Frank Sinatra concert, I was so drunk that I saw two of him through the entire show. I think of it as seeing Frank Sinatra twice.
 
scott and edwin
 
scott freeman

 
I think of Skeeter as the house band at the Fiddle and Plow series. This may be their seventh show there. Not complaining. For my satisfaction, they don't play enough. Several weeks ago, I had to miss a show that was Scott and Willard. Those are the best ones for my ear. I love to hear Scott and Willard pick and sing together. They've made music together for so many years, they move together as one. If I had a big wad of money, I'd want to produce a project by Scott and Willard, Live At The Front Porch, because it needs doing and nobody has done it yet. Like Skeeter, Scott and Willard's sound is their own. To them, it's like nothing because they're so used to it. To my listening ear it is dynamite. Soft dynamite. The kind that blows your mind and makes you happy. Skeeter started the show Friday night with Willard singing Silver Dew On The Bluegrass. It's a beautiful song and Willard brings it to life. Willard likes to take old songs from the 1920s and before, and make them his own. Drifting And Dreaming, I Love You Nelly, Won't You Ride In My Little Red Wagon, a Bob Wills song. Unfortunately, the audience takes Little Red Wagon for a children's song and discourage Willard from singing it. They laugh at me when I request it, and I think in turn the unspeakable. Scott sings some good Bob Wills songs too. Another of Willard's old songs I like to hear him sing is Nighttime In Nevada. Then there is The Yellow Rose of Texas, a song Skeeter and the Skidmarks made their own, Willard singing it.  
 
sandy and willard
 
dori freeman
  
Dori Freeman and David Long opened the show with some of the songs she is singing now. David played mandolin accompaniment to her singing that flowed well with her sound. I was struck again by Dori's new degree of control with her voice. Her singing has become more conscious after some years now of performance and practice. I've seen Dori's singing grow and it brings to mind watching my baby friend, Vada, grow. Both are doing something new each time I see them. This time, Dori's singing was on a whole new level. It is still her, still her voice. She's fine tuning it. She's paying very close attention to it the way a musician pays close attention to an instrument, finding the subtle nuances, listening. I was thinking of Carter Stanley, not that she sings like him; his voice played with its own sound like Dori is doing. This is the first time I've heard her sing since she has become a mother. Her music has improved immeasurably since she has been with David. She was good before, and gets better. By now, her singing commands the hearing of the audience. It always has, but now it's in awe. David playing a mandolin is in the zone we think of as "professional," meaning extra good, and Dori's singing has entered that zone. Together, they are working very well musically. It feels like their life together is making music. Dori has a baby, she has the man of her life. She is in double love now and soaring with her music. It is a good time in Dori's life. I'm happy for her. I was hoping she would bring the baby, but it's not a good idea to be hauling so new a baby around in the cold night air. Mothers know it better than I do.
 
david long and dori freeman
 
edwin lacy
 
Edwin Lacy, the banjo in Skeeter, has begun a new phase of his life, recently married to a woman named Roye. Edwin's demeanor has brightened up considerably. I don't mean he was hang-dog before, but I see in him a new light that tells me he is doing all right. I'm happy for Edwin, too. Edwin has a good woman and Roye has a good man. He was wearing a ball cap with a logo that said Wild Goose. It's the name of a new church idea he has arrived at on Tuesday evenings, rocking chairs instead of pews. People bring instruments and they make music. It's the other side of Hillsville, an hour and a half from home. I want to make the trip every week, but every Tuesday I don't want to drive for three hours at the end of the day. I'm even a little shy of driving two hours on a Friday night. This Friday night was one of those black nights that was opaque but for where headlights fell. I was not comfortable driving either way, going or coming home. Plus, I'm so paranoid about highway patrol now, I drive 45 in a 55 and use a turn signal even if there's not a car in sight. I don't like to drive anymore because of the paranoid feeling, esp in opaque darkness. This is new and I don't like it, but there it is. I had not seen Edwin in several months. I was glad to have a few minutes to talk with him before the show. Sandy too. Had a good visit with her before the show. Dori and David were asked to join the band opening the second half. Driving home, I did not play any music in the car, let my mind flow with a mix in my head of Lucinda Williams singing Ventura, and Dori singing Prairie Song. They flowed in and out of each other all the way home.  
 
dori freeman
 
dori and david with skeeter and the skidmarks
 
 
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