Nostalgia. What a beautiful wonderful gift.
Nothing make me smile like the howls of Gillian Welch and a steel guitar. Why you may ask ? I have thought long and hard regarding such affection for the strings and minor chords rung loud by the those who most likely can’t read the notes on their page.
Born outside the Capital of NC one could hardly call me a “mountain girl” or ” farm hand” My first concert was Chicago followed by Santana. I tried my hand at the fiddle in high school, i was less that mediocre at best. I have about zero dots to connect in this deep deep regard for bluegrass.
Here is what I do know.
My family to have grown up outside Carolina’s capital has embraced their rural heritage. The good-bad-ugly- but ruggedly human. My first vehicle was a gold pick up, I had to leap into. My first festival I sat front and center while a less-known Grascals played the hell of a fiddle. Entranced. You know.. like when you stare into a fire.. the colors blue-purple- red-orange. I felt the music in those fury of colors.
My sixteenth birthday my mother.. recruited a local bluegrass quartet to play under a stone shelter. I still remember their singing ” Ill fly away ” to the top of their lungs.
As time followed I found myself in Boone, and most distinctly investigating Old Time music. A more primitive precursor to the bluegrass but haunting just the same. So many Thursday nights I would sit on a wooden porch and listen to the old-pickers play. I would join in with shaky hands on my fiddle. I mostly just listened. Felt the vibrations under feet. Saw the glassiness of an elder’s eyes. They felt it too. They loved. They loved the music. It was not a song on the radio them ( heaven knows these would never get air-time). It was their passion and I was blessed to be apart of it.
I found myself one night, after rafting some wild river in the mountains, setting camp with my crew. Dinner finished and i heard it, the ring of a fiddle. The next thing I knew I was running through the woods to see the hands behind the music. Reckless I know. I found this crew of men, round a fire and playing. They welcomed this out-of-breath stranger. They had me sit down, share their moonshine and sing hymns for hours. It felt home.
Something about those Appalachian mountains. Perhaps its my Cherokee heritage that is echoing through my media-calculating- busy- modern life. Perhaps the Holy Spirit reminding me of the gifts of rhythms long ago.
A diatribe tonight, my apologies. The worst part.. I could go on, I will spare you. Sometimes the only way I can figure out anything is to make words come out of this noggin.
Below is my favorite Gillian Welch tune…. ” Come on boys.. .turn on some Old Time noise….”