A New Journey
Life is about journeys and this is a new venture for me...just back from six months on a Welsh cattle farm, flying into NYC. Talk about a life of contrasts. How do people live here in all this noise and bustle?
Last night I had a hoot down on Christopher Street. My sister and I went to an off-off-off-Broadway musical called "Cowboys!" Now if you want to scream you need to get down to this totally "camp" gay production. Be prepared to see some flesh (specifically guys in only loincloths.) Now I love "camp" stuff, so it was right up my alley. A woman sitting two over from me howled throughout the show; she might have been even funnier than the Cowboys. See it and laugh. Read the review in the NY Times.
As usual I'm avoiding going outside (I nearly LIVE outside when I'm in Wales or the Catskills) and for once I have an excuse: it is raining in NY. I had to laugh the other day when I was walking down Broadway at 96th...there was actually a sign there that said "No Honking $350 fine." I could barely read it for all the honking horns; proof that reading isn't taught in schools these days. Who's gonna enforce that around here?
Funny thing is that I actually went for 6 months in Wales without hearing one single horn! Now I saw a lot of horns (on cattle). The noisiest thing I encountered over there in Radnorshire is what we fondly refer to as "rush hour." That's when the single lane roads all around the farm (and when I say single lane I'm talking two cars just cannot pass because there are banks and/or eight-foot-tall hedges that close right in on the road) are jammed up with hundreds of ewes and lambs, all bleating, each with a different voice (sort of like folks trying to sing the national anthem at the republican convention). Lambing season, for most, begins in April and goes through into May, then it's shearing time. I love the life cycles of a farm...you know what you need to do according to what day it is; it's sort of all planned out for you. If it rains like hell, go to plan B (fix broken things in the barn). Me? Oh, I'm usually out following the local foxhunts from November 1 through mid-March. But that's another story.
This week I'm preparing for yet another road trip. This one will take me from the Catskills down Route 81 to Dickenson County, Virginia -- to a great little bluegrass festival up on Smith Ridge - if you haven't been, check it out! Ralph Stanley's amazing festival runs from May 24-27, 2006 and you're sure to have a memorable time there.
Did I tell you that Ralph Stanley is indirectly responsible for this nomadic life I lead? Well, he is. I first heard him in 1982, quit my day job and took to the road so I could hear Dr. Ralph on a regular basis. 'Course I've had to work most of the time since then, but I still get out to see him regularly. I can only explain it through ancestral memories. Ralph has that "ancient" sound, even though he's only around 80 and still going strong. You can read all about him on the above site.
After Ralph's I hope to get around to visit several pals in southwestern Virginia, east Tennessee and western North Carolina, then head over to Mt. Airy, NC for their annual Fiddlers Convention. Talk about! If you like to play or listen to bluegrass and old time music, this is the place to be. Plus you can check out all the cool Andy Griffith stuff that oozes around the streets of Mt. Airy. They say "Aint Bea" used to get confused and really believe she was the character she played. I know the feeling.
I've been there a bunch of times and it is a great place to be. You can camp there, eat, sing, pick, and dance there, too. They even have workshops...well, just check it out.
After Mt. Airy it seems a trip to Nashville is unavoidable (and I might even get to see my friend SistaSmiff).
And then it's on up to the place so many memories continue to be made...Bill Monroe's Bean Blossom (Indiana) Music Park.
This year's gonna be a big one - the 40th anniversary - June 10 through June 17, 2006. Check out the lineup that includes the Who's Who of bluegrass music today - and then do whatever it takes to get there. It's a lovely setting for a festival and you just can't beat that bunch of bands if you love traditional bluegrass. Be sure to check out Jim Peva's new book about Bean Blossom, visit my dear friends Judy and Leon at the University of Illinois Press book table (and get some of those fantastic books!) and open your hearts to a lot of great music. I'll write more about Bean Blossom later. Right now I'm thinking this just might be too long for one blog so I'll quit for now and start getting my things together for what's going to be a great swing through the southland. Later!