Tuesday, August 25, 2009

More Vicarious Travel: the Appalachian String Band Festival

My friend Mary Helen, one of Sav's three extraordinary midwives, recently returned from Clifftop, West Virginia, where she and her friend Claudio, Harmony School teacher extraordinaire, attended the Appalachian String Band Festival. She posted some photos on facebook.

These pictures remind me of one of my first trips to Indiana, long before I came here to live, on an upcycled (read "rickety") school bus filled with musicians. We came down for Bill Monroe's Bluegrass Festival in Bean Blossom. Rod, John, and Sally Bellville, Mary DuShane, Cal Hand, Dakota Dave Hull, Bill Hinkley and Judy Larson were on the bus – I think I was the only non-musician. It was fun to be among that roving band of fiddlers and banjo pickers, who played music day and night, incessantly testing new and old-timey tunes. Bill Monroe appeared on the modest Bean Blossom stage dressed from head to toe in white, beneficent and magnificent among the mud-spattered folks (there were a few downpours) whose makeshift homesteads populated the campgrounds. At one point I needed to get away from the bee-buzzing constant sound of the music, so I took a walk in a field of daisies and Queen Anne's Lace, marveling at the natural beauty of Brown County, Indiana. Little did I know I would someday live just down the road in Bloomington.

Here are some pictures of Clifftop taken by Natalie Garrett Wurtz. The Jesus bumper sticker was a favorite at the festival ("most photographed") and I now have the William Holman Hunt images of Christ in my mind, trying to imagine if it really could be true that Jesus would be slap happy. (I have to doubt it.)

Richard's Roadkill Eatery: a joke perhaps, but also a testament to the uneasy transition from a culture that relied on food that was trapped or hunted, the old-fashioned way, and the situation today, when vehicles are a major weapon of animal destruction.

The photo of musicians Tim Litchfield, Chris Persson, Jeslyn Vaughan, Summer Gentry Case, Missy West, Kellyn Sanderson gives an impression of a session at Clifftop. Looks as if it is a beautiful thing.

Rod Bellville, Cal Hand, Andy Kozak, Gary Schwatrz and Bill Hinkley are still making music together, or at least they are in this YouTube video of the tune "Beaumont Clearwater" from 2002. I wonder if they ever meet up with their cohort at Clifftop?

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