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Aug 4, 2019 - 8:28:52 AM
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7471 posts since 3/19/2009

Originally I'd planned on just posting this story in a blog but it has been suggested that more participation is encouraged if a post is in a regular forum.. So, here goes.
We were having a great nighttime jam..maybe 9:30, and there were six of us.. Out of the surrounding darkness appeared a young child of about 12 years old, who asked if joining the jam was possible..SURE!...Personally, I couldn't tell if the child was a boy or girl (ultimately it didn't matter but I didn't want to refer to Him if he was a She or She if she was a HIM,..get it?)
I said to myself, "Self.. just ask the child for its name and then you'll know." I asked.. the reply was 'RIVER"... Great.. now I still don't know!!! Fortunately, the child's mother soon appeared and asked if it was ok for HIM to join us.... so then I knew..
Anyway... River was phenomenal...He had played cello for 6 years. At this jam he brought a guitar that he had only been playing for ONE WEEK.. He skillfully kept up with chord changes and when in doubt asked pointed, intelligent questions about the chord progressions..We were all impressed.. River also said that he had been playing a mandolin for one year.. and wanted to play a fiddle.. He had been to Swannanoa no less than two weeks earlier and took some lessons there. ( he won the youth competition).. I handed him my fiddle and once again impressed us with his seemingly preternatural skill ..That was that!!
The next day, River came to our compound of canopies and tents and asked if he could hang out and maybe take a banjo lesson..He learned quickly and within about 15 minutes was thumbing and drop thumbing and playing tunes..Apparently his cello teacher was Big on theory.. River right away understood the tuning...While we were discussing the banjo, my friend Larry, brought out his concertina..River asked what kind of accordion it was. He wasn't familiar with concertinas and soon he asked Larry if he could try playing it.. Larry explained that it was like a harmonica, somewhat, and in about 1/2 hour, River could play a complete tune on it..(I'm still working on learning to play a kazoo!)......While they were working on the concertina, my daughter struck up a conversation with a lady who was carrying a Mountain Dulcimer.. River quickly handed back the 'accordion', and asked the lady what kind of instrument was in the case. He was unfamiliar with mountain dulcimers.. Sure enough, in about 30 minutes, there he sat with the dulcimer on his lap strumming out a tune..(I'm NOT making any of this up. I can supply collaborating witnessessmiley This kid was amazing.)
The next night, around 10 PM, we were having a large jam of about 10 musicians..Being Clifftop, it was DARK outside our canopy..River's mother appeared and said that she hadn't seen him for 4 hours and was extremely worried in that it was their first time there and a kid could get lost among the myriad, dark road circles and jams.. She even thought that he may have been 'abducted'.. I assured here that that probably wasn't the case and offered to try to go find him. I grabbed a lantern and headed in the direction where there was the most light and activity. I went up to several jams and didn't see him ...Soon I was at one of the shelters where they teach buck dancing..There was River.....Playing a Hammered Dulcimer!!! I escorted him to his camp.
Two days later, as we were taking down our canopies, River was sitting on a stool, with a fiddle tuned Cross A, and he was working out the drones/notes to Black Eyed Suzianna...
River is obviously an amazing kid, but Clifftop is full of talented people. I'm sure that River is just an example of what is possible when a place like the Appalachian String Band Festival exists.

An additional  comment... River didn't have a fiddle of his own so a HANGOUT MEMBER (not me) GAVE River a very nice and functional  fiddle, case and bow.....heart  

Aug 4, 2019 - 9:04:21 AM
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8 posts since 2/1/2016

River was such a joy this week. I enjoyed the time I spent with him and you also Lee.

Aug 4, 2019 - 12:26:17 PM

7471 posts since 3/19/2009

quote:
Originally posted by Banjer54

River was such a joy this week. I enjoyed the time I spent with him and you also Lee.


It was fun, wasn't it.. Now, you get yersef back to dat Forky Deerwink.  Hey, YOU might be one of my reliable witnesses to attest that my story is true!!!

Edited by - TuneWeaver on 08/04/2019 12:27:06

Aug 4, 2019 - 1:04:19 PM
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8 posts since 2/1/2016

9 1/2 hours getting home yesterday. I got the day off. It was fun!

Aug 4, 2019 - 2:07:41 PM
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4204 posts since 9/26/2008

After 14 hours on the road (two day spread), we are finally home. The dog gave me 'the ears' and whimpered, and we had a walk.

This was a banner year for me at Clifftop. Besides the rattlesnake encounter, I entered the fiddle contest again AND played in the 'neo-traditional band' contest. I'll relay more when I've had a shower and unpacked. 

Aug 5, 2019 - 1:28:38 PM

7471 posts since 3/19/2009

OK, Billy. You Must be out of the shower by now, or are you nursing that snake bite??cheeky Where are your stories..?

Aug 5, 2019 - 3:14:28 PM
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4204 posts since 9/26/2008

First day, Thursday before gates open.  Two hours after arriving and getting a tarp up for shade, my wife and I take a walk on the trail to the creek.  We were maybe 150 yards in when we hear what sounds like a cicada, you know, when they are on the ground and you pick them up - low pitched buuuuzzzzzz.  My wife shrieks and runs about 25 yards back, jumping a tree that had fallen over the path before I could holler, "How far away to you have to be?"  There on the left side of the path, about 6 feet ahead, lay a 4ft timber rattlesnake.  I just stood and watched as it slowly snaked away and across the path.  When It got to the other side, I walked forward a bit and it buzzed again.  again, "That's close enough, flatlander."  There is a video on my wife's phone (I coaxed her back to give it to me so I could record it) but I will have to get it from her to upload here.  Beyond that excitement, there were tunes had with my neighbors and a jolly time had by all. Thus concludes the Pre-'top portion of the show. 

Well, a few hours past gate time, Brian (bandsmcnamar), my wife, and I helped a woman (Cindy) keep her camper from rolling into the woods!  If fell from the leveling blocks and the tongue began swinging towards the woods. Cindy caught the tongue as the trailer went from perpendicular to the treeline to parallel.  She decided to park it parallel and we invited her closer to our "compound" for leveler ground.  This excitement, completely different from Thursday's, turned out to be a bit of kismet.

Soon she and Brian are playing music together, Brian on fiddle and Cindy rocking the autoharp.  After a while, I saunter over and sat down to listen. A few minutes pass and I blurt out, "Ijustcameovertoaskifyou'daccompanymeinthefiddlecontest!" Or something like that. She smiled and agreed "sight unseen" as it were.   Cool. Turns out, Cindy Harris is the 2017 Winfield Autoharp Champion and is quite accomplished. Lucky me!  So over a few days we practice a few times and her friend Jody eventually arrives in his van.  He hears us practicing and joins us by playing an Anglo concertina.  We finish the tune several minutes later and Cindy and Jody have this side conversation along the lines of "You are getting some nice bass notes on the concertina." "What do we need a cello for?"  "What we really need is a fiddle!"  They both get the same look of excitement on their faces and turn to me, "You want to be in our band?"  Long story short, we entered the Neo-traditional band contest as a trio called "Fretless."  When I get the sound file from Brian,I'll post it.  Jody Kruskal is also very accomplished on his instrument and I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to play with both of those wonderful people.  We tied for 6th in the band contest wink

The day of the fiddle contest I did not jam once.  I hung out with my wife, I played through the tune before the contest and I worked on the band tunes.  THe only A tunes I played were a handful of modal tunes "June Apple" "Squirrel Hunter" Reed's "Frosty Morning" all in two  standard tuning jams (one without banjo).  NO "CROSS A" OR "A" JAM AT ALL THIS YEAR.  I think i played Roscoe 8 times and my companions played it one more time while I was eating dinner, second on the list was probably "Old Chattanooga."  So much G and D.  Also C on more than one occasion.   Every year seems to be so different.

Aaanyway, here's my fiddle contest entry for the 2019 Appalachian String Band Festival (it was the most relaxed I've ever been on a contest stage):

https://youtu.be/qO3TfPL1BXk


Edited by - ChickenMan on 08/05/2019 15:20:05

Aug 5, 2019 - 4:36:13 PM

7471 posts since 3/19/2009

You are right, Billy. Roscoe was the tune of the year in our area.. It must have been called 6 times.. Fortunately, it is a good jam tune.. easy to pick up if one doesn't know it..That is One nasty looking snake.. I hear that caught another somewhere.

Aug 6, 2019 - 1:39:16 PM

7471 posts since 3/19/2009

I just thought of a sign that I think I'll have made and that I'll post the next time I'm at Clifftop.. "Welcome to Clifftop. Set your calendar back 100 years.".......Like it?

Aug 7, 2019 - 5:38:02 PM

7471 posts since 3/19/2009

quote:
Originally posted by Banjer54

River was such a joy this week. I enjoyed the time I spent with him and you also Lee.


Sam Bartlett and his wife Abby Laden, met river in Swannanoah.. Sam was River's mandolin instructor.. He stated that River was fun to hang out with and that he always asked the BEST questions.. I can understand that.. I'm looking forward to looking UP to River next year..I recall another kid from about 8 years ago named Will Brauneis.. He was ten years old, about 5 ft tall and an AMAZING fiddler for his age.. Two years later he was 6 feet tall, deep voice and a MAN... How they grow.. Will is now 20, and with 8 more years of fiddling on top of his already great 8  year old ability.. well.. That is what Clifftop brings out...

Aug 8, 2019 - 3:42:09 PM
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8 posts since 2/1/2016

Your fiddle tune sounded great. If i was a judge you would have done better.
Originally posted by ChickenMan

First day, Thursday before gates open.  Two hours after arriving and getting a tarp up for shade, my wife and I take a walk on the trail to the creek.  We were maybe 150 yards in when we hear what sounds like a cicada, you know, when they are on the ground and you pick them up - low pitched buuuuzzzzzz.  My wife shrieks and runs about 25 yards back, jumping a tree that had fallen over the path before I could holler, "How far away to you have to be?"  There on the left side of the path, about 6 feet ahead, lay a 4ft timber rattlesnake.  I just stood and watched as it slowly snaked away and across the path.  When It got to the other side, I walked forward a bit and it buzzed again.  again, "That's close enough, flatlander."  There is a video on my wife's phone (I coaxed her back to give it to me so I could record it) but I will have to get it from her to upload here.  Beyond that excitement, there were tunes had with my neighbors and a jolly time had by all. Thus concludes the Pre-'top portion of the show. 

Well, a few hours past gate time, Brian (bandsmcnamar), my wife, and I helped a woman (Cindy) keep her camper from rolling into the woods!  If fell from the leveling blocks and the tongue began swinging towards the woods. Cindy caught the tongue as the trailer went from perpendicular to the treeline to parallel.  She decided to park it parallel and we invited her closer to our "compound" for leveler ground.  This excitement, completely different from Thursday's, turned out to be a bit of kismet.

Soon she and Brian are playing music together, Brian on fiddle and Cindy rocking the autoharp.  After a while, I saunter over and sat down to listen. A few minutes pass and I blurt out, "Ijustcameovertoaskifyou'daccompanymeinthefiddlecontest!" Or something like that. She smiled and agreed "sight unseen" as it were.   Cool. Turns out, Cindy Harris is the 2017 Winfield Autoharp Champion and is quite accomplished. Lucky me!  So over a few days we practice a few times and her friend Jody eventually arrives in his van.  He hears us practicing and joins us by playing an Anglo concertina.  We finish the tune several minutes later and Cindy and Jody have this side conversation along the lines of "You are getting some nice bass notes on the concertina." "What do we need a cello for?"  "What we really need is a fiddle!"  They both get the same look of excitement on their faces and turn to me, "You want to be in our band?"  Long story short, we entered the Neo-traditional band contest as a trio called "Fretless."  When I get the sound file from Brian,I'll post it.  Jody Kruskal is also very accomplished on his instrument and I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to play with both of those wonderful people.  We tied for 6th in the band contest wink

The day of the fiddle contest I did not jam once.  I hung out with my wife, I played through the tune before the contest and I worked on the band tunes.  THe only A tunes I played were a handful of modal tunes "June Apple" "Squirrel Hunter" Reed's "Frosty Morning" all in two  standard tuning jams (one without banjo).  NO "CROSS A" OR "A" JAM AT ALL THIS YEAR.  I think i played Roscoe 8 times and my companions played it one more time while I was eating dinner, second on the list was probably "Old Chattanooga."  So much G and D.  Also C on more than one occasion.   Every year seems to be so different.

Aaanyway, here's my fiddle contest entry for the 2019 Appalachian String Band Festival (it was the most relaxed I've ever been on a contest stage):

https://youtu.be/qO3TfPL1BXk


Edited by - Banjer54 on 08/08/2019 15:44:15

Aug 8, 2019 - 7:22:22 PM

4204 posts since 9/26/2008

Thank, Jerry. I’ll keep entering; it’s a lot of fun.
I was hoping to read about other adventures.
Maybe folks are at Galax and haven’t been to the hangout yet.

Aug 9, 2019 - 1:08:40 PM

7471 posts since 3/19/2009

Mostly commentary.. some story.. We usually camp by that Michigan BOY.. BOb, Karbowski.. He knows more tunes than anyone else who I know.. I jam with him several times a year and have gotten where I can play along with MANNNNY of his tunes.. When I'm not around him I tend to gravitate to my regular playing list.THIS year however, I'm home humming several of those tunes of Bob's and have been working on them to where I can start, play, and have fun with them.. This was a long time coming.. Anyone who thought I knew quite a few tunes in the past..better hang on.!!! Which makes me wonder...before the technology that we have now was available, I wonder how large the tune list was of the average fiddler..!!

Last year Bob camped right where WE usually camp.. We got even..We made last year's RAIN, pool to about two inches in that area.devil.  This year, the rain pooled in that area again and we moved a canopy to accommodate them.. They were nice enough to set aside a DRY place for us to camp....Another Michigan fiddler...a left handed fiddler, Dave Langdon, who does NOT restring his fiddle camped just a few yards from us. So Michigan fiddlers were in No short supply. Right next to Dave were camped Two more Michigan people.. . It was wonderful..Dave's wife Cindy, made breakfast for several campers in the area.. Blueberry pancakes are her specialty...Regional camps abound as happens at many festivals, I'm sure..

OH, and I almost forgot to mention that  that great Michigan  fiddler (Hangout member GAPBOB) Bob Borcherdink, who was just 150 feet away came to commiserate and jam with us several time.. I envy his 'choppy' bow style..I think that he and I have the same sense of humor..so I enjoy his company...He composed 'on the spot' a great fiddle tune and named it Katie's Tune in honor of my daughter who has a lot of fun with Bob......

OK... Still not done.. The Alaskan Fiddling POET and storyteller, Ken Waldman, is seemingly always at Clifftop.. He visited  our camp almost daily.. We convinced him to stop by Bloomington in a couple of weeks and do a show at my daughter's coffee shop..Hope he isn't expecting more than spaghetti and chili for meals..!!!

Edited by - TuneWeaver on 08/09/2019 13:23:48

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