Monday, September 3, 2007

Winding Down the Summer '07

I am posting this on Labor Day 2007 which marks 7 years since I moved my custom cabinetry business to my own shop building on our premises here in the Willis area of Floyd County. Its been great to eliminate the 30 minute or more commute I had for 10 years previous to that. I have saved a lot of gas $ and wear and tear on my vehicles no doubt. Now my trips to the New River Valley are usually with a big load of products from the shop and/or with a very long list of stops to be made. It is absolutely the best job-related move I ever made. I haven't worn a watch in 3 years now either.

Our last music 'job' trip for a while was completed yesterday (9/2) when we got back safely from a wedding gig in Hopkiinsville, Kentucky. We provided background melodies for a wedding rehearsal supper to represent the mountain heritage of the groom who is from Floyd County originally. After viewing the terrible drought conditions in western Kentucky we found a deeper- than-ever appreciation for the mountains of our area of the Blue Ridge even though our rainfall is 9 inches below normal for the year at this time. Only 'brown grass' exists what we saw of that part of Kentucky right now.

Our trip in early August to Maine and Nova Scotia was wonderful except when the neck in my fiddle became un-glued to the body due in part to the beginnings of the August heat wave conditions which had reached all the way to the Canadian Border. I discovered this unfortunately 10 minutes before we were to play a dance for the reunion atendees at Camp Darrow on Grand Lake in Northern Maine. I was shocked and in a pickle and a jam simultaneously until it I was offered a fine 'violin' to use by a young woman who was the caller and didn't need to use it. I made do for that evening but wondered if I could get by without my fiddle for our next gig in Eastport. Our close friends Andy and Sharon Buckman (camp director and host) joined us for some hot tunes for the enthusiastic dancers. We felt like all had a great time and that we had visited a wonderful place in the boondocks of Maine that has meant so much to many outdoor enthsiast over its 50 year history.

Back to my fiddle, on close inspection I determined that with a clamp and glue that I could re-set the neck myself and have it playable thereafter. If nothing else perhaps a Cape Breton fiddler could help me out after all we had it in our plans to go there. Our first day in Canada was mostly traveling through New Brunswick and into nothern Nova Scotia. We looked up an old friend of Jenny's in the town of Antigonish who she hadn't seen or been in touch with for 29 years. Its never too late to reconnect with people from your past and it triggers the memories to come back although slowly for us in our middle/old age.

Through being in Nova Scotia we got a better understanding of the mix of European cultures that never blended as much as in the South. This area of Canada was
the original homeland of the Acadians (french colonist) who were banished by the British conquerors and forced to leave. They, as we know from history of American music evolution ended up in Lousiana and blended in Indian/Negro/Caribbean cultures to form what known as the Cajun culture. I sensed that our Appalachian fiddle style is somewhere in between Cape Breton's and Lousiana's similar to how our geographical location is.

Anyway, I reglued and clamped the fiddle neck back into place while on the road the next day and sucessfully recusitated my fiddle back to playable condition during the evening of our one night stay on Cape Breton Island : famous for its dance traditions and distinct music style. I feel like my old fiddle has yet another good blessing in its mysterious history since being found by happenstance by me at Floyd's local thrift store , Angels in the Attic, about a year ago.

We saw some awesome scenery in our short visit to Cape Breton and hope to return someday and finish the tour of the magnificent island. We'd of course like hear some of the local musicians play. We missed out as we were there on a Monday night and like most places, Monday evenings are low key. One needs at least a week there. We made our way back to Maine via the rocky north east coast cutting back across to come back down through New Brunswick to cross the border at St Stephens/ Calais checkpoint. We felt like we had been in a time warp in Cape Breton and Northeast coastal Nova Scotia as the lack of population explosion kept the pace of change to minimum.

Our Eastport, Maine experience was nice and laid back with fine weather, lobster rolls, fine hosts and a fine crowd for our
gig/concert in the Eastport Arts Center. The Eastport area is very beautiful with visitor friendly small town feel and plenty of support for musical unknowns from the South even if they have banjo in the performance. Go vist Eastport if you ever get a chance!

Check us out closer by for the near future. Thanks for stopping by.