Grey Fox - Love on the Mountain v.2
Casey Driessen, Cool Dude Extraordinaire
This time at Grey Fox when I wasn't seriously working and had lots of time on my hands was a great opportunity to spend some time around some of the new stars of the music. I really have to say a whole bunch of them impressed me, not the least of which was Casey Driessen. He's got a sort of quirky sense of humour that really tickles me and he's a cooperative photographic subject who exudes confidence. Besides being a phenomenal musician who can play whatever he puts his soul to, he's just the kind of guy I'd love to have for a brother. Here's to you, Casey! Thanks for the laughs! (I was backstage taking pictures such as the one above of the Uncle Earl girls from behind - looking out at the big crowd on the hill -- I stepped back and turned around and there was Casey and his fiddle and his funny red shoes sitting on the couch backstage silhouetted by the light from the backstage door. I went over and tried in a sort of unobtrusive way to get some candids of Casey doing his thing. But Casey fools with a camera, too, and is aware of his surroundings and he turned on me.....grinned, and went from sitting on the couch to laying down, all without missing a note of the tune he was playing. So here's Casey laying on this leatherette sofa sawing away on that fiddle. He's that kind of guy. 'Course you pay a price for everything sooner or later...in that clever process young Casey managed to overturn his bottle of beer. Ain't he cute? Here's to you, Casey! Are those really 3-D glasses?
The Uncle Earl girls had to be one of the most popular acts of the weekend and I know sales were pretty brisk up at their record table. Besides offering a wide range of music onstage, they have a lot of CDs to choose from at their table, too. And caps and really cool shirts to wear. Check 'em out! The Earl Girls are just sweet! Abigail sprung a surprise guest on us all during her set on Saturday morning -- her sweetie Bela Fleck came out and joined her for a captivating set of music from old time to Chinese. Well I can agree with those who say Abigail isn't bluegrass I must say I'd rather listen to her than most of the bluegrass bands I've heard recently. So there. Your mileage may vary. Seeing the way Abigail and Bela exchanged soft looks in front of thousands of hung-over Grey Foxians there on the hill that morning just melted me and I felt a little tightness in my throat as I listened to their stunning set. I felt like hearing those songs made me a better person in some significant way.
So Uncle Earl received a standing ovation accompanied by declarations of love, war whoops and plain ole hillbilly yells up there on the mountain -- and they sure were pleased. And I liked the way they gave it all back to their fans by stepping around their mics and out toward the crowd and cheering and clapping for THEM. Very classy, girls.
It was late late Saturday night and things here and there had fizzled out (gee, the stage show didn't end till nearly 2:00, a Grey Fox tradition!), even backstage, and I got wandering around with Louis and Cathy and ended up at the Uncle Earl girls' campsite. It wasn't long before Louis and Cathy went off to bed and it seemed to me like I was probably the Senior member of that particular gathering which looked to have about 50 souls in all. Abigail was sitting by a campfire with a lovely young girl gazing up at her adoringly from the ground and a young fiddler sitting across from her eager to accompany her open-back banjo and rich voice. Behind Abi stood Rushad Eggleston, recently referred to by someone whom I trust as "a musical prodigy" ( and I surely concur), most of the King Wilkie boys, some of Crooked Still and the Red Stick Ramblers...it was a gathering of (to me) a new generation of musicians, enjoying that special vibe that circles around us up on the mountain and gathers us all a little bit closer together. They didn't want to go to bed. Song led to song and I stood by Abigail not really knowing anyone here very well yet just taking it all in, quietly, savouring the company and the dampness of night, the earthy strains of a young woman's voice and the ties that held us all in place, suspended like the low clouds of moisture that clung over the lesser hills below. I wanted this moment to remain and it lives yet in my heart. This felt like times not so long ago - maybe 15 years when the hill was populated with the likes of Hot Rize and Jerry Douglas and Peter Rowan and we all stayed up, just like this, talking and singing, sharing, come together from our separate lives, joined by the night and the love of a common music. I felt a piece of that long-ago time there in the midst of Earls and Wilkies, Ramblers and Stills....it soothed me.
Somewhere after the birds commenced singing and the sun parted the darkness with its delicate pink fingers I slid away for some rest. Another day of remembrances and the discovery of a few new gems in the form of songs and friends.