February 25, 2006
Imagine a place waaaay back in the woods in Bumfuck, South Carolina. Add what appears to be an old barn, converted into a concert hall upstairs and a U-shaped room, perfect for THREE sit-and-pick groups downstairs. Put it a half-mile down a dirt road on the bank of a blackwater creek. Have about 100 people show up with guitars, mandolins, fiddles, banjos, dobros and other instruments on Friday night. Imagine LOTS of good music.
Well, such a place exists, and that's where I went last night.
My friend Willy hauled me up there and I probably couldn't find the place again without a damn good map. It's in the middle of NOWHERE. An elderly couple owns the property and they provide coffee and snacks for the musicians--- they pass a hat for "contributions" to pay for that--- and I had a GREAT time. Bluegrass is the preferred genre, but you probably can pick just about anything except rap and have people play along. (Shit. As if you can "pick" rap music anyway.)
Some of the musicians are damned GOOD, too. I hate it when I encounter a 13 year-old boy who can pick rings around me, but I met one last night. That little fucker could tear up a banjo, too. A one-eyed man with silver hair was as good a mandolin player as I've ever heard. A little old lady who resembled Barbara Bush played the hell out of the fiddle. I even saw some clog-dancing.
I played until my fingers hurt. In the downstairs area, pickers and fiddlers wandered from group to group so that I got to play with a LOT of different people, most of 'em fine musicians. I liked the atmosphere. Somebody would say, "You know such-and-such?" and the answer would be, "What key ya do it in?" "I play it outta 'G.'" "Just hit it and we'll follow you." And off we would go, winging it into the wee hours.
I've gotta go back there. If I can ever find the place again.
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