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The Dogtrotters, out on work release and ready to perform

Posted by FretlessinTexas on Monday, January 11, 2010

The Dogtrotters, featuring the fiddle playing of Gilbert Sewell, of Pikeville, Tenn., will be performing old-time southern Appalachian stringband music on Friday, Jan. 15 at Firefly Coffee House in Fort Wayne. Flatfootin', jumpin' and hollerin' will be tolerated and even encouraged so long as it does not scare the children.
The Dogtrotters are former roustabouts and moonshiners who are now on the road to becoming quite upright in their sensibilities. Indeed, the band is now on work release and promises a performance that is not to be missed. You can be brought back in time to a simpler age, when fiddle and banjo players were gainfully employed and the world was a bit more fathonable. No cover charge.  
Friday, January 15, 2010
5:00pm - 7:30pm
Firefly Coffee House, 3523 North Anthony Boulevard, Fort Wayne, Ind.


Now let me tell you something about Gilbert. He has a real archaic style to his fiddle playing. He often stomps his feet and hops around in his seat when he plays. A born and bred Tennessean, he has made friends in old-time from all over the country but refers to midwestern and New England fiddle tunes, some of which he begrudgingly likes and even plays, as "Yankee pussy music."  Those who know him never take offense but just laugh. We talk on the phone several times a week. Right now, he is infatuated with a tune called "Old Joe Bone,'  from the Carter Brothers in Mississippi, circa late 1920s. He'll be all excited about a new tune next week.

At Clifftop, Gilbert convinced me to park my pop-up camper down in Indian country or the bottoms. It was a wild and wooley place and I considered myself lucky to have escaped without getting a tattoo or piercing. I may have witnessed the sacrificing of a goat, but I'm not sure. Anyway, it was Gil's fault that I went to sleep each night with a butcher knife on my chest, afraid that drunken cajuns or Canadians or related tribesmen would pull me out into the mud.

Once a year, Labor Day weekend, Gil and his wife Dianne hold an old-time music party called "Sewell Fest." I started going to it when I lived in Alabama and I've continued the trek from northern Indiana to Gil's beautiful spread in the Sequatchee Valley near Pikeville, Tenn., about an hour north of Chattanooga. They got a pack of dogs, the leader of which is named "Booger." The pack only preys upon other dogs and no guests have ever been mauled. While the surroundings are beautiful, it's best not to leave the confines of the party and take a hike up the mountain. Doing so would present the possibility of stumbling onto some stranger's still ... or meth lab. And that would not be good.

The picture below was taken about four years ago when Gil and I were playing tunes at Bear on the Square, a music festival in Dalonega, Ga. We got out of there with nary a scratch.

Click for Large Version

2 comments on “The Dogtrotters, out on work release and ready to perform”

bubbaschnell Says:
Monday, January 11, 2010 @9:46:50 PM

Sounds like the swamp @ Clifftop's gotten kind of tame since I was last there. Go figure?

bj Says:
Tuesday, January 12, 2010 @2:44:01 PM

They let children in when you folks play? Fancy that . . .

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