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Notes from the Field


Rating: 1 votes, 4.00 average.
A cold winter night in January, snow was piling up at an astonishing rate. The snowflakes captured in my headlights looked a lot like an old screen saver. I needed the four wheel drive to make it up the hill to T__’s house, a long unpaved driveway through the woods. I have seen bear up here in years past.

I opened the door, paid my obeisance to the tiny black dog that guards the house, and proceeded down the hall to take my seat around a low table. Sitting around the table, M__ with his great big guitar and harmonica rig around his neck; our host T__ on the fiddle he made; and me getting out my mandolin. On the table a bottle of Knob Creek bourbon, some glasses, extra picks, tuners, harmonicas in other keys, capos, other stuff. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed that T__ had two banjos and a parlor guitar out, just in case. You never know.

Over the next three hours we played tunes and songs from as far back as the Revolution, and as recent as Creedence Clearwater Revival, spending a lot of time with our inspiration: Charlie Poole. We sounded pretty good. Well we should; we have been meeting like this every Thursday for a couple maybe three years now. I will admit, good is a relative thing, and there were no observers and we were not entirely free of the influence of strong waters, but let me say it this way, with just about every tune we played there was a moment where each of us experienced the whole sound as being better than we could have done alone. It is my biased opinion that a hypothetical casual observer would not have needed to hear the tunes any better than we played them. Milwaukee Blues, Soldiers Joy, Snouts and Ears of America, Cherokee Shuffle, In the Pines, Moving Day, Elk River Blues, Man that Rode the Mule Around the World, Road to the Isles, Hogeyed Man, Bad Moon Rising and on and on and on without a break except to fill a glass, check an A string, or comment on a tune.

I have played music with T__ for something over 25 years. And M__ I knew from many years ago when I ran a coffeehouse, though until a few years ago we had lost touch. Our musical tastes overlap. T__ loves American and British Isles fiddle tunes, M__ loves old blues, I love old time and Appalachian fiddle music, and we all love early country music, Charlie Poole up through the Louvin Brothers. We play traditional plus, which means traditional plus whatever the heck we want to play.

The question arises, could life be significantly better if I drove for NASCAR, or caught a 29 inch rainbow trout on a parachute Adams, or opened for Marty Stuart? Well yea, but not if I have to do it on Thursday.

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Updated Feb-20-2014 at 7:44pm by JeffD



  1. Gelsenbury's Avatar
    It's gatherings like this that make it so worthwhile to play music. There is so much companionship in the act of creating fleeting moments of music that no individual could create alone. I, too, have been enjoying this feeling with the after-work music group in which we have been meeting for about three years now. It's one of the best things to do with your free time. Thank you for sharing.
  2. dusty miller's Avatar
    Great way to spend an evening! I have to get something like that going around here. Yes, thank you for sharing that.