Saturday, August 16, 2008

Jams and Concerts

Musical events returned to our schedule the past two nights in the form of a jam session in Blountville, TN and a performance by Dan Bonner and Day Sight at the Carter Fold in Hiltons, VA.

The Anderson House, which is an old restored log cabin, served as the site for the Blountville jam. The musicians arrived at intervals between 6:00 and 7:30 until the total reached nine--2 players each on guitar, fiddle, and banjo, and 1 each on dobro, mandolin, and string bass.

Kate was not feeling well, so three local gentlemen and I made up the audience. I began the evening seated behind the fellow playing the dobro (left in the photo). Incidently, we learned that the dobro is actually called a resophonic guitar. The Dopyera Brothers in 1928 used a contraction of their name (DOpyera BROthers) to form the Dobro Manufacturing Company. Dobro was the first maker of the instrument which came to be called a dobro much like Kleenex and Xerox have become the name for facial tissues and a photocopy of a document, respectively.

In the early part of the evening, I had a nice conversation with a husband (guitarist) and wife (fiddle player) from the town. As more players arrived, the conversation changed to a flow common to jams--getting caught up on community news. It is this quality of "news gathering" or "news exchanging" that, I think, is as important (if not more important) as getting together to play music.

It is this sharing of information that makes me feel part of the community, but only minimally in reality. But even with only a minimal connection, I find it hard to take flash photographs of this gathering of friends, because a harsh flash signals that I am not really a part of the gathering--I am an observer intruding on their activity. So that is why the photos have a blur to them. Their movements while playing and the relatively slow shutter speed in the available light create, I hope, an interesting effect.

My feeling about jams may be hard to understand, but suffice it to say that I feel a special connection to people in these small sessions.

At the other musical setting, the feeling is entirely different. We were members of an audience of nearly 800 at the Carter Fold in Hiltons, VA. The Fold is a modest performance hall with museum exhibits and historic structures. It is a memorial to the original Carter family--Maybelle, A.P., and Sara (left to right in the picture on the wall to the entrance to the performance hall). Sara was A.P.'s wife and Maybelle was both Sara's cousin and A.P.'s sister-in-law.

The band sounded very good, and the audience was very appreciative. (The photograph may be a bit blurred here because of the distance from the stage.)

But it was a different, more distant, appreciation that I felt as part of that large crowd.

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