Wednesday, November 7, 2007

crooked road

I found out from one of the people in my Tuesday night jam there was a special event going on last night. The 16 musicians, ballad singers and dancers from “the Crooked Road” were playing an open jam at Di Luna’s café in town. It was the night before their big show at the Panida, and they were playing with local musicians for kicks. The crooked road of Virginia is a musical heritage trail, and these performers were exactly what I am working towards when I’m practicing at home.

This was a pretty big deal, a chance for anyone willing to show up with her instrument and play with professionals in a stress free environment. I got to watch an amazing clawhammer banjo player, and kept taking all these mental notes on technique. You can only get so far yourself in this gig. Watching how good people play in a jam and processing it is more valuable than a hundred lessons in a studio. Di Luna’s café turned itself upside down for us. They moved all their chairs and tables and made the entire center of the restaurant an open space for music. Soon Soldiers Joy was ringing through all of town, followed by other favorites. The road players had mountain music in their veins, all of them Virginian locals. There was dancing, singing, and a real songcatcher (ballad keeper) belting out the old songs. I heard the best version of Darling Corey ever.

The usual Sandpoint gang and some other players I never met got together that night. It was nice seeing the familiar faces, greg the old billy goat in the corner beating his drum. Chris, our jam leader keeping his own and playing a great solo on BlackBerry Blossom. I tried to keep up but I know when I’m beat. I put my fiddle back in the case and just watched in awe. Last night showed me just how much there is to learn, and how little I know. It wasn’t frustrating at all though; it was like sitting around a pile of Christmas presents knowing sometime you’ll eventually open them. I stuck around till the last verse of Knoxville Girl and decided that was a good endpoint for my evening. Tonight Music from the Crooked Road is putting on a mountain music performance at the Panida. I hope to go and see them again before they skip town.


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