Our adventure for today was to drive over to Floyd, Va to another venue on The Crooked Road, The Floyd Country Store. The Floyd Country Store is a gathering place for musicians, dancers and visitors.
The Friday Night Jamboree is an authentic experience of Southwest Virginia’s old time and bluegrass tradition. Every Friday at 6:30, the music starts with gospel hour, then bands playing good old time music. Dancers crowd onto the dance floor. The store fills up quickly and it may be standing room only. On Saturdays, they play Americana and Old Timey music followed by a Mountain Music jam later in the afternoon. Each weeknight there are jams attended by local traditional musicians and some traveling bards also stop and sit in too. All of these events are free to promote land preserve local, traditional music.They are not so much performances as true get-togethers of like minded people who enjoy this sort of music.
To get to Floyd, we took The Crooked Road north challenging my tendency towards motion sickness once again. The road winds through forests and then out into open farmland with herds of contented cows grazing in the fields. Right alongside the fields the mountains rise planted with clearings of perfectly shaped Christmas trees growing straight out of the vertical cliffs and towards the sky. Arnie was reminded of his friend, David Kinghorn and thought that perhaps the Christmas trees that his church sells during the holidays might have originated right here on one of these mountains. Maybe yours too?
It is haying season and the aroma of fresh cut hay blew into the truck on the breeze as we traveled along with the windows down. It is a pleasant drive. We were listening to a CD of acoustic guitar and banjo played by a couple of older gentlemen that we had gone to listen to earlier in the day. We passed dozens of small, modest homes most with huge tractors in the front yard or shed.
It was the Songwriters Circle that brought us out to Floyd’s tonight, The Circle, like drum circles, is open to all and this evening we were treated to a small group of writers who brought their own songs to try out on each other and the crowd. Not only can the audience listen to their orignial music, but also the discussion between songs that revealed artists perfecting their craft. They openly discussed the creative process, the challenges of keeping it fresh and the difficulties of staying in touch with home when they are on the road. They sat in an intimate circle on the hardwood dance floor with the mountain view behind them out the big windows. It was a privilege to attend.
We had dinner at the store which offers only homemade goods and it was delicious. Arnie decided to have a piece of warm apple pie, so I went up to fetch it for him. I was trying to describe to the young woman behind the counter that he wanted it heated……just a bit, not nuclear, but about a 4 out of 10. I was having trouble explaining just how he wanted that. She said, “Honey, let me help you with that. Around here, we say, “Just knock the chill off ‘en it!” Yes, that’s what I was trying to say.
Some of the songs seemed to expose the artists most inner self. They were mostly in the folk style, simple and short, revealing dreams and demons both with a smattering of humor thrown in too. These are artists who read no music and play by ear, taught at the knee of their grandparents and parents. One of the players shared that his wife played better than him on the mandolin, but it was hard to get her out to a Song Circle, “what with having six kids and working full time.” Here are some of the original lyrics that we enjoyed……..we tried to write down some of these gems.
She’s a pretty girl with an ugly tattoo. Ask the boys what they think and they say, “Boy that sure looks good!
I’m done with you now. It’s easier to smile with you gone a mile. I’m done with you now.
While the fire is burning, I’m constantly turning, these flames into memories of you.
When you come around, I turn around and never will I meet you half way.
You’re casting a line which is all very fine, but I don’t feel like taking your bait.