Travels with MaryE

Most things I love best are about good light and good timing. That's where the adventures start. Don't be in no hurry here. Here you'll find a little bit about bluegrass music, fox hunting, life on the road, time on the mountain, and a whole lot about other things, too.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Hills of Home, Rising Costs, and Hotter Than...

Ralph Stanley's bluegrass festival at the Hills of Home park on Smith Ridge not too far up the mountain from McClure (one side) or Coeburn (the other) Virginia is now history. I'd better tell you right off that on Saturday afternoon I went sauntering up to a whole gang of those Republican deputies with my big Nikon and asked if I could take their picture -- and they refused!!! See, what'd I tell you about them! The Democrats always mugged for the camera. Anyway, when they declined I just kinda puckered my lips and pouted a little and told them all I was gonna do was to put it on my dartboard. One of them busted out laughing and then I told him not to worry because usually when I aim to throw a dart at a board in front of me it somehow ends up in a wall behind me. But that's another story. And I didn't get a picture of those deputies, the boogers.

But I did get to see Ralph's Rock again, the one that holds down all that money he makes from selling his CDs at $20 a pop. Hey, when did they go up to $20? I feel kind of silly about preaching all the time to buy from the artists -- when some of them have started charging $20 it seems like it has gone a bit above and beyond, folks. You can buy the same CDs from County Sales ( for $13.50, and if you buy 6 you get a free Rebel or County CD besides. Go figure. I'm not sure how many of the bluegrass artists have hopped up to $20 for a CD, but isn't that quite a jump? Have I checked out of the real world for too long? I've been PREACHING for y'all to buy direct from the artists because it keeps gas in the tank and food in those babies' bellies. But gee, y'all shouldn't bend over if you know what I mean. Did it have to be a $5 jump? I can see a buck or two -- rising costs...

Really I'm just in an ill humour because I drove 600 miles today and everywhere I drove through it was like 100 degrees (probably hotter than that) but finally I've "landed" in steamy Illinois for a few days - till I go to Bean Blossom next Friday. Now a long trip alone through the hills of Virginia, Kentucky, and on into Ohio, Indiana and Illinois provides a perfect opportunity to listen to lots of great music. Since I'd just left Ralph's festival and was driving through the Clinch Mountains I did have to listen to the Stanley Brothers (tradition) on my way into Kentucky - and then some. Great stuff.

Also in today's listenings were a James King's two earliest CDs, Tim O'Brien's "Fiddlers' Green," Ralph and the 70s Clinch Mountain Boys, The Traditional Grass, Nashville Bluegrass Band, Hazel and Alice, and Junior Blankenship's new CD (more on that one later).

Over there on BGRASS-L folks are talking about favorite tenor singers. I suppose we all mean something different by "tenor singer" but when I mean a tenor singer it's Ralph! A lot of the tenor singers that most folks brag on get on my very last nerve with their shrill, whiny, edgy, nasal tenor; yet I gotta say one of my very favorite tenor singers is Mr. Danny Paisley and he's about as hard-edged as it gets. I could go on...and on... but enough about bluegrass now.

Whoever thought the world was flat and you could fall off the edge must have been driving across central Indiana and Illinois. Sheesh. No wonder the tornadoes rip through these places. Driving across Illinois today there were fierce storms all around me yet somehow I managed to miss all of them; still, the light was incredible and I found myself wanting to stop about 3 dozen times to snap photos of the tram lines and patterns in crops accentuated by the very intensely brooding light of the imminent storm.

I've got to mull over my experiences with gravels and stuff at the Hills of Home before I can get into talking about it much. Maybe tomorrow.


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