Art of Sound Part Two

        Saturday the skies cleared and it turned colder.  Perfect weather for the Art of Sound festival.

        A hot regional band kicked it off.  A fellow from Rock Hill, S.C. wore out the guitar, and a Dr. Dean Jenks blistered the banjo.  The lead singer was from Pumpkin Center.  It was a solid bluegrass band, FlintHill.

        There was Old Time and Cajun and gospel singers.  You know the festival is eclectic when you have Scottish guys in kilts who play rock ‘n roll bagpipes.  

        Nashville songwriters Rick Bowles and Phoenix Mendoza put on a songwriter workshop that drew a big crowd, and the Methodist Church hosted a mandolin workshop with four of the world’s top players.  Darin Aldridge, the melodic tonemaster, and Wayne Benson of iii Tyme Out, the definition of the second generation, represented bluegrass mandolin.  Young Thile style wizard Josh Pinkham and master mandolinist Mike Marshall delved into jazz, Brazilian, swing and chord melody work.  These four artists put on a clinic that both entertained and informed.

        Marshall and Pinkham also did a duo set that ranged from classic fiddle tunes to Bach.  Pinkham dubbed it country counterpoint. The spontaneous description was better than any I could think of overnight. 

        Country Counterpoint.  Ask Mike Marshall and Josh to play it next time you see them.  Josh is a precocious young man, but success and talent have not spoiled his kind spirit.  Mike has been on the road a long time but remains a humble mandolin genius, and not the least bit cynical.  Maybe some day music will change the world after all.  Like you, Mike, I hold to the dream.

        There was Jim Lauderdale, Jack Lawrence, Michael Reno Harrell, and the Harris Brothers from Lenoir, N.C.  You ain’t lived till you’ve seen Reggie Harris play slide guitar and the electric suitcase while his brother Ryan wails out the blues.  Reggie plays like Doc Watson, with a touch and soul few can duplicate.  Seek them out and hear them play.

        We grabbed a quick bite then went to the Farmer’s Market stage where the day had started out.  There the Darin Aldridge/Brooke Justice Quintet sang some of the best bluegrass gospel I’ve ever heard.  They just released a new Pinecastle CD, “I’ll Go with You,” that will be nominated for gospel project of the year.

          The Carolinas are lucky to have iii Tyme Out.  They are one of the premier bands in the business and there they were in little downtown Shelby.  They rocked the crowd with their trademark tight harmonies and the soulful lead singing of Russell Moore.  And I gotta say Wayne Benson, along with Darin Aldridge, is one of my favorite bluegrass mandolinists on the planet.  I’m gonna recommend they get my cousin from Pecan Grove one year too, ’cause he’s right there with them.

        It was a lot of fine music packed into one day.  I got home and realized I hadn’t typed out a word on my novel.  I gotta e-mail my agent and get back on it. I still have a deadline of Jan 1, 2009.

        And come Monday, I’ll go back to he office and be a Doc.  As much as I love to play, I ain’t on the planet as gifted as this crowd.  Y’all go support ’em wherever they play.  For me, the music makes me a better Doc.  I’ll be better prepared to sift through all the human troubles we have.  Because of music, I find myself energized and more thankful for my blessings.  Somehow it makes me more empathetic to my fellow human beings and gets me through another week in a tough business.  Someone said it takes a mandolin community to raise a doctor.  I like that, and I thank all the music and arts folks for your inspiration.

       So till the next gig- back to work.  I look forward to the next session, though, and I’m gonna practice more too.  I’m getting older and it’s gonna get harder to keep up with young’uns like Darin and Josh.  I better get at it.

Dr. B

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