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A day spent with the Redneck Hillbillies and Jane

Posted by bj on Monday, November 10, 2008

Before y'all get your shorts in a bunch, I saw two oversized beltbuckles yesterday. Each one needed to be oversize so it would show beneath the improbably outsized beer bellies. And both proclaimed something along the order of "Redneck and Proud Of It", so yeah, I spent a day with Rednecks who proclaimed themselves as such. And yeah, I was definitely in a different country than I'm used to. I've never seen so much facial hair and so many snakeskin cowboy boots. Toto, we're not in Manhattan anymore.

I heard some damned fine fiddling. And played for most of the day. Even if it was bluegrass.

This is a huge jam, held once a month at the Beethoven and Waldheim Club outside of Hellertown PA, which is an old stone Moravian Bank Barn converted into a really nice facility. They have a huge banquet room upstairs where they have a couple bands play for an audience, and where you can sit down and eat. There are some small rooms on that floor for jamming, then downstairs there's a bar which also serves food (good American Grease! Real burgers on real crusty Kaiser Rolls, yum!), another dining room, and some side rooms. There was music happening everywhere, probably around 50-60 people playing at any one time, scattered throughout the building. A really nice facility for this shindig, and with some nice spots outside for jamming if the weather happens to be favorable. During the summer they move the jam to a park with camping up near Wind Gap.

As usual, Jane stole the show on more than one occasion, with that happy and quirky tenor banjo playing of hers, with its nooks and crannys and odd escher like up down and sideways stairways with twists and turns into magical places you never expected to find.

I guess I have mixed feelings about this. If I had my druthers I'd be playing nothing but oldtime. But there is so little oldtime being played in this area that if I want to play with other folks (and I NEED to play with other folks!) I have to at least entertain the idea of going to shindigs like this one, run by the Appalachian Fiddle And Bluegrass Association.

I met some really fun people. And they did play some oldtime songs, even if they did play them in standard tuning and with that bluegrassy smoothness, and with **cough!** BREAKS! I managed to dodge almost all those breaks, as well as that grinning a$$hat photographer who was determined to snap my photo despite me threatening to ram that camera down his throat so far it would come out his . . . anyway, that seemed to produce an even bigger grin, which tells me the old fart has some psychological kinks I don't even wanna think about.

A good day, overall. I just wish it was an Oldtime good day . . .



14 comments on “A day spent with the Redneck Hillbillies and Jane”

brya31 Says:
Monday, November 10, 2008 @7:46:30 AM

Poor camera guy! Sounds like a fun time! Except for the camera guy of course, LOL

janepaints Says:
Monday, November 10, 2008 @9:04:07 AM

Oh gosh, it WAS a good time....Since ma's side of the family was from NE Pennsy--same kinda folks as the AFBA bunch--thus making me 50% 'redneck hillbilly', I must say that I strongly resent...uh, I mean strongly RESEMBLE that remark. Since the other half of my parental gene-heritage is No Good Lazy Irish Immigrant Riff-Raff, can ya spare a wee bit o dat jug before da fiddles commence da merriment? BJ, didja notice that when I fiddled 'samples' of the 2 tunes which I'd played at the Lyons Fest--at fiddler Catherine's request--those BG folks got WAY curious? Often it's just that folks haven't heard the older tunes, but they LOVE 'em when they do hear 'em. I listen to AM-band smalltown radio stations from out that way, lotsa BG on their airwaves. But little or no OT. Maybe someone from out that way--oh, say a fiddle-mad FHO member from Easton--should approach one of them low-wattage country radio stations about being a DJ hosting an oldtime music radio show. Edjicate the Masses....even the Massive Belt Buckle Masses! Same thing happens with my 'quirky' banjo playing. I'm just stealing-recycling banjo licks from tons of other players (Frank Lee, Bob Carlin, John Hartford, tons of '20's-30's stringband players, Riley Puckett's guitar work, etc.) but the BG folks ain't heard that stuff much, so they get all curious with itching ears. That ol' 'Edjicating The Massive Belt Buckle Masses' deal at work again. To misquote from Field Of Dreams: "Twang It And They Will Y'all Come."

bj Says:
Monday, November 10, 2008 @9:14:55 AM

You're right Jane. There was curiosity. And if I didn't have the hole in my head that magically appears and out of which spills my entire tune list every time someone asks me what tune I wanna play, maybe we could capitalize on that curiosity . . . someday.

For the record, a tunelist doesn't help. I tried it. Not only do the titles disappear, the melody does too. Just disappears. Gone until I leave the jam, when everything magically reappears on the way home, and I can hum every tune I know.

Rene Says:
Monday, November 10, 2008 @10:11:33 AM

Careful bj, those were probably my relatives LOL. If you only knew some of the stuff I've been involved in.
Sounds like a great time. By the way, I did play last night and felt better....thanks goodness

FiddlerFaddler Says:
Monday, November 10, 2008 @10:12:25 AM

Awww, BJ, you don't have to be so camera shy. Even if you have buck teeth, a mono brow, crossed eyes, a crooked nose, and warts and scars, we would still love you just the way you are. Of course if your portrait is even 1/10 as nice as the hidden-face profile that Jane snapped of you and posted in her pictures, then you are a drop-dead, gorgeous, voluptuous beauty.

Anyway, I'm with you about the need to educate the dumb masses. I can surely understand how Jane stole the show with her tenor banjo; when I heard her MP3 postings at one of these Hangouts I added her to my list of favorite musicians.

bj Says:
Monday, November 10, 2008 @10:31:31 AM

Rene, it was a great time! And I'm truly glad you did better last night.

FiddlerFaddler, as long as your imagination has me being a drop-dead, gorgeous, voluptuous beauty, I'll run with that and keep the full frontal shots off the internet. Besides, that way my parole officer won't know it's me. JUST KIDDING!

And FF, you only hear the sound when you hear Jane's mp3s. You're not getting the whole entertaining package, including every eye fastened on her during her breaks and the ear to ear grins of all watching, matched only by Jane's grin, and that mad twinkle in her eyes, and her head bobbing in time to the music like one of those head bobbers on the back window shelves of some of those redneck cars that were in the parking lot. Not to mention Jane's own signature and peculiar flourishes when she's on a roll-- which is most times she's playing.

Rene Says:
Monday, November 10, 2008 @4:19:05 PM

So who is this famous jane, anyway?

bj Says:
Monday, November 10, 2008 @4:36:37 PM

LOL! Jane is AKA janepaints! Famous Banjo and Mandolin Player of "Peter Stampfel & The Ether Frolic Mob".

janepaints Says:
Monday, November 10, 2008 @6:16:11 PM

Uh, no I don't play mandolin in the Ether Frolic Mob--yet. I've been playing tenor banjo and harmonica (and jazzy guitar when Hubby sings 'I Can't Give You Anything But Love". I'm the newest member and the combo's line-up is free-form and ever-shifting, so I dunno even know if I'm a 'full-fledged member' yet. Famous? Oy Vey! Gimme a bwake! I'm as famous as household lint.

bj Says:
Monday, November 10, 2008 @6:23:12 PM

Okay, okay! Not So Famous Temporary Banjo and Harmonica Player for The Ether Frolic Mob . . .

janepaints Says:
Monday, November 10, 2008 @7:15:08 PM

Ok, BJ pimped me...now it's my turn to pimp her. Yes, she's only been fiddling about a year, but she's a MUSICAL newbie: doesn't try to play beyond her skill-level and quickly finds the notes that work within any song and so fits-in well with the rest of ensemble......BUT, take note:.... BJ's a WONDERFUL singer. Shoulda seen them BG-people's jaws drop when BJ commenced to vocalize.

bj Says:
Monday, November 10, 2008 @7:31:35 PM

**blushes**

FiddlerFaddler Says:
Tuesday, November 11, 2008 @11:29:12 AM

We need you to post a video of Jane playing at a jam!

bj Says:
Tuesday, November 11, 2008 @12:03:06 PM

Um, that would mean actually purchasing something to shoot video with . . . and I've never even done any of that sort of thing. Maybe I can enlist some help.

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