Thursday, November 11, 2010

Bombardier-navigator, Lt. Barbee


My late father-in-law, Bob Barbee (3rd from left), as a young bombardier-navigator at Barksdale. Later, he flew over Italy. His outfit had so many casualties that before he was 25, he was the "old man."

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

American Folklore Society meets in Nashville

Here's to all my colleagues at the annual American Folklore Society, in Nashville.

I was in Nashville the LAST time AFS met there ('82. 83?), when I was still a baby folklorist, at 30, a grad student at Chapel Hill.

Mary Anne McDonald introduced me to Nick Spitzer. A very pregnant Paddy Bowman took me and Roby Cogswell to see Rufus Thomas play (canary yellow hot pants with suspenders). I saw David Whisnant flatfoot at Tootsie's Orchid Lounge.

The big scandal was that Dan Patterson ( esteemed and very proper folksong scholar) had grown a moustache, was seen at Tootsie's wearing BLUE JEANS, and being awfully chummy with Beverly (his future wife).

I shared a room with, like seven other UNC-CH grad students (including Mike Casey, Joseph Sobel, maybe Jim Abrahms), and slept on the floor with stereo headphones on, playing AM radio static, trying to drown out the snoring.

Got thrown out of the lobby after a drunken early morning blues jam with David Evans and Barry Lee Pearson---Henry Glassie intervened with the concierge so we didn't get thrown out of the hotel altogether.

The best part was that we were sharing the hotel with a national convention of cattle inseminators (lots of jokes about the secret handshake).

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Vagabonds, late '40s


OK, name THESE Virginia Vagabonds. Note the electrically-amplified mandolin, piano, and drum kit. Hint: this photo ( by Rip Payne) is displayed at a prominent business on Charlottesville's Downtown Mall. Bonus points: What event was it that they were performing for?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Daniel Womack, blind gospel singer, guitarist


This is a photo I took at the Ferrum Folklife Festival in 1976 or 1977 of my friend and mentor, Daniel Womack. Womack was a blind gospel singer and "Piedmont-style" guitarist who lived near the Hotel Roanoke in Roanoke, Virginia. When I met him, he had recently retired after working at the hotel as a dishwasher for many years. Kip Lornell introduced me to Daniel, and I spent many hours visiting him in his neat little apartment, listening to him play and sing and witness. I studied Daniel's repertoire and playing style, and wrote several undergrad papers on him. What a gentle gentleman he was! I still miss him. (For recordings of Daniel Womack, look up the Blue Ridge Institute's recordings of traditional music of Virginia.)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

hey all

I'm getting real tired of that particular picture of me on my blog reminding me that I haven't posted anything since May, except for the fact that now it's in the 100's, and I remember how cold it was that day. The summer Shenandoah Blues Fest at the Frontier Culture Museum (!) is coming up. I hope this one is more comfortable that the festival in May.

I haven't been writing much, and not playing out at all since shortly after this May gig.

I have for several months been primary caregiver for my wife's mom--who is about 8 years into Alzheimer's ch├ęz Day--we have had "issues" with trying to find suitable hired help, just to give me--and Sally and Emily--some well-needed respite.

Anybody who's done this knows what the job entails, so I won't be posting blow-by-blow accounts. But it should be on that TV show about crappy jobs. On the other hand, it is often just as funny. It is what it is.

Sally will be traveling all over the world this fall (South and Central America, West Africa, Asia), so I'll be holding the fort alot.

I resolve to record more music to share on this blog, for my own sanity's sake!

Chant for me, baby!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Shenandoah Blues Fest

Hey. I'm playing a 7:20 slot today, in theory, give or take an hour. Come see. It'll be new for me, too. I've never actually BEEN to a blues festival before. What to wear?

The weather is fantastic. I am celebrating cutting down a locust that was destroying an early 19th century brick wall. I have also begun stripping the wall of ivy and some other noxious, invasive, non-native vines and weeds. Great exercise.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

key of F

Just a note about upcoming gigs. Finally hired a decent "grammy-sitter" and have a little more freedom. Have set up a little studio here on the Stuart Hall campus, and am recording some songs. Teaching a few lessons. I'll be posting here more often, prolly.

Been working on a bunch of stuff in the key of F: Big Bill Broonzy's "I'm a Southern Man"; the 19th century Irish ballad, "Bold Robert Emmett," which has a local Virginian historical connection; and a medley of other instrumentals---including 18th century Scottish lute piece, "I Wish I Were Where Sweet Helen Lies." There's great story in that ballad, involving jealousy, a botched murder, and revenge, but it goes on WAY too long to sing.

THIS FRIDAY, Mar. 12 at 8-ish at the Darjeeling Cafe in Staunton. Two full sets.

Friday, Mar. 26, 8-ish at the Mudhouse in Crozet. Two full sets.

Friday, April 9th, 7-ish at the Stone Soup in Waynesboro. Two full sets.

Still negotiating for the Batesville Store in April. Outdoor gigs! Yahoo!