Last night Evelyn Shaw, Mary Charlton, Art Aylsworth, and Suzanne Edwards played Old Time Music at Britthaven. It was nice to get a chance to really listen to live "Old Timey" again now that I have a little more perspective on it as an adult. I have started to listen to it differently now. In the Dixie Crystals there are: one banjo (Mary Charlton), two fiddles (Evelyn Shaw and Art Aylsworth), and a guitar (Suzanne Edwards). The combination produces a sound that communicates history in the language of "folks." The Crystals played a set of 12-13 tunes. Some of these tunes came from Evelyn's own father who was a fiddler from Harnett County, NC. Some other tunes came from Tommy Jarrell and Henry Reed via the Hollow Rock String band and probably the Fuzzies too. When they played "Rockingham Cindy," I wondered if dad was hearing Bill Hicks in his head the way I was. They also played "Red Fox," a Henry Reed tune, which Art Aylsworth says he learned from the second Hollow Rock album (Tommy Thompson, Alan Jabbour, and Jim Watson).
These tunes are all so familiar to me that listening to them is like swinging on a swing-set; something I did all the time as a child; something that is intuitive now, which I love, don't do enough now.
During the concert, several of the residents of Britthaven, who are old enough to have experienced "Old Timey" before it was called "Old Timey" were singing, humming, and moving their bodies. Dad was concentrating with a serious, intent look on his face. In certain ways he seemed his old self again. Though his coordination is worse, his comprehension of art and music seems sharper than ever.
I was especially intrigued listening to the combination of instruments, knowing what I now know about them. Mary Charlton's clawhammer style banjo sounded so African--the light plunkety plunk like water running over rocks in a stream. Evelyn and Art, both playing fiddles, were a great compliment to each other. While Art's bow strokes are shorter and he plays every note, I could hear Evelyn with her longer bow strokes sometimes harmonizing with Art, other times just complimenting his more aggressive style with a deep underpinning. The two fiddles reminded me of Malcolm Owen and Bill Hicks in the Fuzzies.
It turns out that it's a very small world in "Old Timey" circles. Mary Charlton had had one banjo lesson from my father before she started studying under Nowell Creadick. Nowell is a family friend from a long time ago. Mary and Suzanne Edwards were also familiar with my friend and fellow CFS graduate, Debby Fried, who now plays banjo and fiddle and lives in Virginia, probably not far from the very RCR fan herself! So they said "Hi" to Debbie--in case she's reading this.
Dad recognized "Money, Marble, and Chalk," a song that Evelyn learned from her father. I will include the words to that song below. Dad sang it intently leaning forward so that he could harmonize with Evelyn.
Incidentally, Evelyn has written an article about her father in the OTH, Vol. 5, No. 2, "L.N. Shaw, A Harnett County Fiddler." (And here's another article about Mr. Shaw.) Evelyn, too, has had Alzheimer's in her family, and she understands the connection one can make through music.
At the end of the concert, when I was asking the Crystals all about their background, Dad listened intently. He seemed very interested in the fact that I write these letters for the website. Would he hate it if he knew how much I have shared his personal life? I hope not, as I hope he would know that my sharing this through writing has been giving me the strength and support to keep things happening for him. And my documenting his illness in writing will help those who are working to educate professionals in the long-term-care business about the value and necessity of music in long-term-care facilities.
MONEY, MARBLES AND
Written and recorded by Pop Eckler
INTRO: [G] Money, marbles
and [D] chalk sweetheart
( [A7] notes to last line of chorus [D] )
There's an old [G]
sayin' that's [D] been all around
I [A7] heard it before I could [D] walk
How some's got [G] health and [D] some's got wealth
Others [A7] money, marbles and [D] chalk.
I got [G] money, marbles and [D] chalk, sweetheart
But I [A7] still feel like I am [D] poor
'Cause my money won't [G] spend
And my [D] marbles won't roll
And my [A7] chalk won't write any-[D] more.
While you were here
I was happy and gay
Your presence made me feel so proud
But you - left me for another one day
Now I feel alone in a crowd.
TALK: (same chord progression)
You know folks, money is a funny thing
Just like marbles, it rolls both ways; to you and from you
Strange isn't it? How all your friends will pass you by
When you havenít got a dime; When you got money, hah!
There isn't enough chalk in the world to write down
The names of all of your so-called fair-weather friends
Many of us have been up and down many times
And our friends keep rolling back and forth
Just like a handful of marbles on a teeter-totter
And my [A7] chalk won't write any-[D] more.
Money, marbles and
chalk is all right
For misers who love only gold
But give me a chance to save our romance
For I love you with all of my soul.
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Tommy's section of the site, the following pages
are also related to Jesse and Tommy:
Blurred Time "The Sleeper": the aftermath of Jesse and Bobbie's car accident
Mike Craver's "Visiting Tommy"
Roots of the Red Clay Ramblers:
Fuzzy Mountain String Band: Jesse's mom, Bobbie, recorded with Rambler Bill Hicks and others
Hollow Rock String Band: Tommy and Bobbie Thompson named this band for their community
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February 17, 2000