August 1, 2001
Odds and Ends (and Middles and Renewals)

The Precious Restaurant Joe Newberry went down to Wilson with David and me to see Dad and play music for him in May. After our visit, when we were hungry, Joe suggested we look for a local restaurant downtown. We found one called "The Precious Restaurant and Catering Service." And precious it was indeed. There was a banquet table all set up ready to go with a gold tablecloth and one or two centerpieces. I believe it was the walls, above the chair rail, which was pink in color. And perhaps the chairs and booths were upholstered in a bright pink or red color. We were lucky. The restaurant must have been at an afternoon lull. I wasn't even sure it was open, but a lady waved us in. After we were seated, a friendly graying pair, seeming somehow related (parents perhaps?) to the lady who appeared to be the host, hobbled in and were seated in the booth behind Joe. Then a younger lady accompanied by a child came in, apparently to visit the older couple. The child looked to be about two or three years old. She was a charmer, with little barrettes in her hair, a lovely smile, and eyes alive with curiosity to see who (the strangers from out of town) we were. Joe saw her first and remarked to our host at her preciousness. The host turned out to be her grandma. We all ordered fried pork chops. I had the cabbage and the collards with them. Oh my! I have never had fried pork chops before. I highly recommend them, and the cabbage was tasty and tender, like it had been simmered in some delicious broth with butter for a long time. I love collards too, and these were as good as any I have had. So there you go, I have let one of Wilson's cats out of the bag, and I hope that the dear reader will trouble himself or herself to go and check out this precious slice of a downtown in North Carolina.

Parker's Parker's is on Rt. 301 headed towards Pikeville out of Wilson. People go there in droves for genuine North Carolina style barbecue. (Even within North Carolina there are several different styles, all claiming to be THE BEST. I claim no expertise in this area, but I must make a lay person's observation: people tend to like what they are accustomed to. When I went to Wilson with Marcia Edmundson, we stopped at Parker's for take out. We got corn (bread sticks) and coleslaw too, and I'll tell you speaking as one who has never liked coleslaw, I liked theirs. It was spicy and yellow, with no mayonnaise. When we ate that evening, Marcia's mom got out her jar of pepper vinegar. I put some of that on my barbecue, and it was just perfect.

The O'Blurs at the Festival for the Eno
Set List
Fourth of July at the County Fair
Rockingham Cindy
Telephone Girl
The Ace
The Hobo's Last Letter
Daniel Prayed
Yellow Rose of Texas
The Winding Stream
Aragon Mill
Beale Street Blues
Traveling That Highway Home (with Robin & Linda Williams and Libby Hicks)

I am sorry I missed a lot of the Festival for the Eno this year. I missed the Time Hoppers, who I had wanted to see, and I missed Balfa Trojours and Gary and Tony Williamson. I just couldn't make it out there all three days, but David and I did make it out to see the reunion of Bill Hicks, Mike Craver and Jim Watson as the O'Blurs. (some pics)

And here's what I thought: "Yes yes, a thousand times yes!" (To agree with Clive Barnes) I am biased, and I'll tell you, dear reader, exactly why I am.

1.Bill Hicks who is a talented writer and musician has also studied fiddling with intense dedication and sensitivity. That is one reason he is as expressive and versatile as he is now. I know he studied under the intense an unrelenting tutelage of an artist and severe old time music perfectionist, learning to recreate the sounds of Burl Hammons, Henry Reed, Tommy Jarrell and many others (read the notes on back of the Fuzzy Mountain String Band album). I know he later studied the styles of Dewey Balfa, Stephan Grappelli and Vassar Clements (just to name a few artists). I know that Bill, with all his talent and artistry, sees things and people in a clear critical light and forgives them at the same time. I know that Bill has made sacrifices to care for his loved ones.

2. I know Jim Watson to be a talented singer, mandolin, guitar, and bass player. His musical talents are not limited to these instruments, but that's just what I know. His accomplished father sang Gilbert and Sullivan with the Durham Savoyards, and surely Jim knows more about written music than most folk musicians do. Here's a few of my Watson favorites: "Aragon Mill," "Satan's Choir," and "Traveling that Highway Home," plus everything on Meeting in the Air, and those who've known him awhile may remember one beautiful C&W love song he used to sing at Ramblers' shows.

3. Tommy Thompson and the Original Red Clay Ramblers were lucky to recruit Mike Craver, at twenty five or six years old, after his excellent performance as the piano player in the Everyman Company's production of The Merry Wives of Windsor-Texas, (circa 1972). Mike could transpose everything the RCR's played, instantly, on an out of tune piano at the Cat's Cradle. Mike could play John Dowland, Scott Joplin and Bach with equal sensitivity and was already a writer and composer when he joined the Ramblers. Mike added flourish to the Red Clay Ramblers sound that took them out the category of old-time-music revival band and made them a world premier "Whatzit" band. Mike, never loud or boisterous, often expresses his monumental sense of humor musically, and sometimes only the most couth listeners get the jokes.

Well, back to the Eno. When Jim and Bill and Mike sang "Daniel Prayed," it near about killed the audience, and then they really finished us off when Libby Hicks and Robin and Linda Williams joined them and they knocked out "Traveling That Highway Home."

Needless to say, they received a standing ovation. Yes, I missed dad, I think we all missed dad, but that was okay. It wasn't missing dad the way you might have thought. He wasn't there, but he WAS there.

And hey, Rounder records, if you're listening, what's wrong with you? Reissue Meeting in the Air and Stolen Love!!

Jesse Thompson Eusticeback to the top
Besides 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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August 1, 2001