Friday, October 05, 2012

Banjos, Fiddles, History and Pies

Today was a lot of fun. So was yesterday. The Universe has swung Its light in my direction, and things are coming together. I need to make hay while the sun shines, as the old folks used to say. As a result, I will cut back on the daily blog posts for awhile in order to concentrate on my longer-term writing projects. Please keep checking back – I will post something at least once a week (and probably more often).

Kim Johnson, John Morris, Dr. Wilson

I got to listen to two of West Virginia's most amazing musicians perform this afternoon. Kim Johnson is the Grande Dame of Banjo Pickers. She said when she began playing, the other women were all forty years older than she was. Now they have moved on to the next dispensation, and Kim is the Matriarch now. Very sweet lady and uber talented. Truly a treasure.

John Morris is the younger of the two Morris Brothers from Ivydale/Clay County, West Virginia. Yes, that's the famous Morris Family of the Morris Family Farm Festivals held at Ivydale every year in the 1960s and 1970s. Yes, the same festivals where angry rain fell from the skies, flooded the creek, and threatened to wash away the festival goers and everything else! 

John says legend has it there was an old woman who lived at the head of the creek on the farm, and she didn't cotton to music. She'd bring out her Morris Family voodoo dolls and pour a pitcher of water on 'em! I tend to believe it – I remember those festival floods.

Kim Johnson (plays banjo), John Morris (plays fiddle),
Me (plays video games)

John gave a running history lesson on West Virginia fiddlers. I took pages and pages of notes. I also recorded about a dozen tunes Kim and John played, created one video of them performing (the battery on my cell phone was very low to start with), and I got a handful of photographs.

In the middle of the two-hour performance, I received a phone call announcing I had won a random drawing and needed to come to the student union pavilion – to throw a pie in my history teacher's face! 

Dr. Peyton is an esteemed historian with his own page in the West Virginia Encyclopedia. He has published one book (so far) as well as produced/written a documentary film (he has his own page on He regularly appears in PBS documentaries as an expert in West Virginia and Appalachian history. And we were high school classmates and regularly share memories of The Good Old Days. He's also a mensch of a human being, and I had to buck up my courage to do something as dastardly as hit him in the face with a whipped cream pie (but I managed somehow).

So all in all, today was a blast. Got to meet new people, enjoy wonderful music, and pie a professor. And the odometer rolled over on my blog -- 13,000 hits as of today. Life is good. :) ~~GHC

The latest collection of short stories from West Virginia Writers includes one of my stories, is ready for pre-order. Fed From the Blade: Tales and Poems From the Mountains is ripe with promise. 

Click Here For Pre-Ordering Info (New Page Opens)

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