Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Mac's new Website / Jenny's new Facebook

Big news!  Mac has finally got a decent website about his business Mac's Custom Banjos Cabinets and More.  It was designed by our son Ben who is professional  graphic designer in the DC area.  Check it out   www.mactraynham.com  when you can.  It is a better explanation
of just who Mac is and what he does on a regular basis.  Let us know what you think.

Jenny has very recently joined Facebook and has had many friend request since so many of our friends and family are on Facebook.  She intend to show her art and summer flower and vegetable gardens that she has worked so hard for.  It will be interesting to see how having Facebook will affect our lives.  Maybe we won't be such hermits anymore.

We finally got our farm fixed up for beef farming and Mac got the opportunity to run some steers to eat up our grass in a management technique known as strip grazing.  35 grass eaters are something to see devouring up a new break of fresh grass.  These beeves belonged to alternative Floyd County's grazier supreme Larry Bright who is Mac's mentor in the effort to be a true grass farmer.  We intend to cooperate more in the future.  Anyone interested in buying pure natural all grass finished beef from Floyd county should get in touch with Larry or me ASAP.

Mac was again on the staff of Augusta October Old-time Week having a class of ten students for intermediate/advance level of traditional  claw hammer  banjo.  It was great fun with lots of good jams with staff and students.  The end of the week was the annual Augusta Fiddler's gathering which drew in some of the best  players of West Virginia rich traditional fiddle music.  I even sold a banjo to wonderful lady Pat Wilcox.

In June 2012, Mac will be on the staff of Blue Ridge Old-time week at Mars Hill College once again.  Shay Garriock, our long time fiddle buddy who Mac has recorded with will be there also.  I haven't updated the calendar yet.

December has found us again trying to finish of some building projects on the farm while working on cabinets and banjos for old and new customers.  Our Rock Springhouse is shaping up nicely and represents several tons of rocks, sand and gravel moved over the last year and a half onto a resting place that will preserve our water.  The spring is one of several on our property that was developed into a water source for our house by previous owners.  An ancient roadbed is beside it and  word has it that it was known in the old days as one of the best springs in our part of Floyd county which is reputed to have over 1000 springs.
We hope to get the roof on it next week.  Photos will be on Facebook.

Musically, Mac has been laying down some tracks at Windfall Studios for a future project involving our area's traditional string music style,  ie, Old-time clawhammer banjo and fiddle duets and trios.  Hanna, who resides in Seattle, Washington recorded 8 tracks of  rare banjo tunes with Mac playing  fiddle in a traditional duet fashion before she left.  So stay tuned for more about how these tracks get mixed and fixed for a final sound.

Jenny and I hope to learn new songs in 2012 and share them when we can. Check the calendar  for an update soon.

Friday, September 9, 2011

A chip off the old Block

Summer of '11 was great because of having our daughter Hanna around. Her enthusiasm for playing banjo inspired by Blue Ridge Mountain masters ie the old-timers,  led Mac to play his fiddle with her several times one on one.  Hanna's ability to learn tunes quickly and play with a driving rhythm has been a mountain music fiddlin father's dream come true.
     We   managed to get around together to some of the local summer music events together.
Elk Creek Fiddler's conventions continued to be a winner for Mac as a last minute entry in the band contest yielded a chance to put our music out into public. Trish Fore, a fine mountain style clawhammer player in her own right, was our band's guitar player.  She backed us up in her signature hard driving style that matched up with our basic 'lick' on fiddle and banjo.  It was good enough to garner us a 3rd place win.  An even bigger honor was to play for the flatfooting contest on Friday night. Grayson County and around the region is such a place  that has such a deep rooted tradition of great music and dancing so reflected in the rural string music documented by  folklorist  who came to find the native music in the 60's and 70's.  As one who learned to play banjo around the fine traditional dancers that frequented the public music venues of the region, Mac seems to have passed on his love for the regional 'sound' of his chosen home area to daughter, Hanna now 24.
        August found us playing in a band called the Mountain Boomers for the Thursday night dance at the annual Clifftop Festival.  Shay Garriock and Mac played twin fiddles  with Hanna, banjo and Rory Mullennex,  son of WVa banjo great  Ron Mullenex on guitar along with Sam Linkous on bass.  It was a memorable experience once again for father and daughter.  A week later Hanna played in her first ever clawhammer banjo contest at the even more famous Galax Fiddler's convention.  A lively rendition of the Hobart Smith tune 'Last Chance' won her 8th place out of the 80 or so contestants and helped introduce her name as a likely 'contender' should she ever play in another contest.
        The last music milestone was to get her to record a few 'mountain' banjo fiddle duets for posterity with her dad in a studio setting just before she left a few days later to begin a new life in the Pacific Northwest, ie: Seattle, Washington.
        She says she'll eventually settle back near us after she gets some things accomplished towards her career of becoming an upper level art teacher following a Master degree from UW.  We'll see.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Summer 2011

Summer has arrived and I will try and recap the last 6 months both musicially and non musically for us. There were a few jaunts at the Floyd Country Store playing for avid flat footers who carry on the tradition of moving to old-time music not just watching and listening. Mac gathers a few daring souls willing to play for such flatfoot dancers, slow dancers as well as listeners for 90 minutes. So a blend of fast tunes and slower country classic numbers are played for such purpose. Most recently Mac had his Blue Ridge Thunderbirds play at Mabry Mill on the Blue Ridge Parkway for tourist and dancers who happened by on a Sunday afternoon. We'll be back again in October.

As for the Winter of 2011, in February we performed for a small crowd at the Front Porch Gallery owned by artist extroardinaire Willard Gayheart. It was a nice venue sponsored by Willard and son-in law Scott Freeman.
Appalachian Awareness Day at Radford University on a weekday involved us with Shay Garriock playing and explaining to students and others about our music and it sources as it related to the the Appalachian Region. I hope we helped with the understanding of why we sound the way we do.

Over the past months we have been participating in an all volunteer recording project for Floyd's local country singer, Janet Turner. Several musicians from Floyd's acoustic, bluegrass and old-time worlds laid down tracks to be mixed into a collection of songs sung by Janet. A virtual band of local pickers and singers will be heard backing up her youthful sounding voice in a big way. Release should be later this summer. Check the Floyd Country Store's website in coming weeks as owners Woody and Jackie Crenshaw are backing the project recorded and mixed by Dave Fason of Floyd County.

In March, we were part of a special show at the Floyd Store featuring the music of two young women who have been making names for themselves. Elizabeth LaPrelle and Anna Roberts-Gevault are professional performers who appeal to all ages in their
use of a visual aid that they made themselves called a 'Cranky'. It is a backlit box in which a scroll is mounted through which sillouets are moved as traditional tunes and songs are performed. We opened the show for them and participated in a final rousing version of 'Keep on the Sunnyside."

A Friday trip to Danville to perform for the Dan River Region Bluegrass association was long but worth the trip as the audience seems to love old songs and the way we do them. The last time we played for the DRR folks we had Shay Garriock with us but since he's become such a busy music store owner and fiddle repairman we have gone back to our duo sound lately.

Our April appearance involved singing with Janet Turner at a Maundy Thursday service at the Methodist Church in Blacksburg where Reverend Reggie Tuck had us be a part of the service just before Easter. Reggie loves and supports old-time and gospel music and is a true fan.

Mac had a big gig in early June in Michigan as a clawhammer banjo instructor at the Midwest Banjo Camp near Lansing Michigan. Its was an intense weekend of workshops for banjo enthusiast of all levels and styles. The staff consisted of mostly full-time professionals and part-timers who were considered good pickers by their peers.

The following weekend we both were part of a long running festival in Whitesburg, Kentucky called Seedtime on the Cumberland. We got to hear some great music there.

Other wise we have been working on improving our farm to get set up for raising cattle and more flowers and vegetables.
Mac has made a couple of banjos and has more almost done as well cabinetry jobs to do. Another big part of Mac's time has been building a pickin shelter in the Warren G Lineberry Park in the Town of Floyd. Too busy for our own good it seems.

More later so check back.

Monday, January 10, 2011

New websites in the works

We finally have made a commitment to create new website for ourselves. It will be one that will cover all our various enterprises including Jenny's paintings, her natural organic soup business, Spurlock Gardens, as well as Mac's Custom Cabinetry, Banjos and more. You really didn't think we made a living at playing music did you? We tend to be homebodies and only travel for a music gig when there's a great opportunity. Otherwise, we are pecking away at something when not being lazy.

Check our calendar. We have a few things already in our local area.

However, its looking like we'll be around home more this year. We have several outside projects that need finishing on our place including the rock spring house. That project has been shut down since early December with the early onset of Winter here in the Blue Ridge.
New fences are in order as Mac wants to be able to have cattle on our land again. Hopefully, we'll have an early Spring and get back to these two projects in particular before the grass gets too long in May. We aim to produce ' gourmet' Grassfed Beef and direct market to folks who appreciate the benefits of eating such a local product.

Mac has a couple of music camps coming up. He'll be on the staff for the first time at the Midwest Banjo Camp held in early June in Michigan. He's also going to be returning to Augusta Old-time week in late October as a advanced clawhammer banjo instructor. We'll see what else comes up in the way of banjo playing or banjo making as the summer season approached.

Mac has already agreed to display a sample of his banjo work in the new Heartwood Artisan Gateway Center just off I-81 near Abingdon VA slated to open this Summer. He has several orders for his banjos to be completed by summer as well. One was recently sent to New Zealand and another to Georgia. A banjo website is in the works so check back in a few weeks for more info and the address.

later aligator