Leaving Nelson County today was done with the kind of determination you need to rip off a bandaid. I could have gotten used to that life- or rather, I had gotten used to it.
But the trip is coming around the home stretch, and so I write to you now from my last stop on the journey- which was the first stop. I'm back in Warrenton, VA.
Between my first stop in, and now, here are just SOME of the tunes I have been formally taught: (not including the ones from my lesson this morning, or the ones I have gleaned from jams...or even some of the ones that I was taught, but can't recall as I write this, and am too lazy to look up, but will later. Those ones make up a whole other enormous list.)
Coon Dog- Alfred Bailey
The Golden Ticket- Eric Merril
Bitter Creek- Texas/Missouri
Hollow Poplar- Fiddlin' Arthur Smith
Indians Over The Hill- John Hanna
Black Eyed Susie- Albert Hash
A kind of Cumberland Gap (that's literally what Gerry called it)
Indian killed the woodchuck
Glory In The Meeting House- Luther Strong
Skyland Rag- Rector Trio
Walk Along John
Shortstack- Jim Childress
Firefly- Jim Childress
Rainbow 'Mid Life's Willows
Becky/Matt: Hangman's Reel (Clog routine)
Clearly, I have some work to do... so with this, I leave you! Stay tuned for the final entry for this amazing journey, coming soon...
It's hard to believe I've been on this trip now for over a month! Today I'm writing to you from Little Hat Creek Farm in Nelson County, Virginia. I arrived here the day before American Thanksgiving, the perfect time to enjoy the abundance of food that comes from this land. Just before arriving here, I took a stop in Norfolk, Virginia- which is right near Virginia Beach- for a much needed visit with an old friend. When I got to Norfolk, exhaustion hit me. Because let's review the last 30 days:
As good luck would have it, the day after I arrived in Norfolk, the weather turned unseasonably warm, and I was able to enjoy a sunny day on the beach in bare feet. It was perfect. I extended my stay in Norfolk by 2 nights, just to bask in that temperate climate, and unwind. (See the last blog post for photos of the glorious beach trip.)
Once I was good and rested, we headed out to the farm. I've been here for a week, and I'm happy to report that things feel nice and relaxed- and at the same time, I'm also learning a ton.
I'm staying in a house with Aaron Olwell, Heather Coiner and Ben Stowe- all are phenomenal musicians, and all are passionately curious about learning. Every day, at some point, each of us separately retreat to practise our fiddles (or piano or clarinet or banjo...), and every day, at some point, we all seem to naturally come together to share new tunes or play the old ones. On Thanksgiving, the house was full with guests from out of town, and we played music literally all day long and into the night. The next day was much of the same. The day after that, we drove into Charlottesville to play tunes with a new batch of friends...and it goes on.
I've had a formal lesson with Aaron on fiddle, with many more planned, and this week and next I'll be learning songs and tunes from Sabra Guzman and Jim Childress too. But here it feels very much as though the formal lessons, and the informal role of music in our daily lives are equally valid. It's starting to feel natural to pick up my fiddle a few times a day, and it's starting to feel normal to hike up these mountain roads.
When I wrote my grant proposal, I wrote that I wanted to live in the land where this music was from and to experience the music as part of this daily world. It's happening people. And it's really cool.
For those of you who are reading this and potentially seething with jealousy: It's not all sunshine and roses- and I've come to realize that this blog often makes it seem so. You know, my dog contracted fleas, my back went out for 2 days (and is still out), and there have been other bumps along the way (driving with a fever from Toronto to PA, repairing that window in DC...). But I know...it's pretty good living right now, and if you want to kick me in the shins, I don't blame you. I want to kick me too. Uh, don't though, please.
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