Saturday, October 8, 2011
I am driving the back roads between Lynchburg and Blacksburg Virginia, listening to Bruce Hornsby sing “Mandolin Rain” in a minor key and I am in Heaven.
Mesopotamia may be the cradle of civilization, but Virginia feels like it could also be the birth place and maybe even the Garden Of Eden.
Springtime has a certain magic but in Virginia it is especially triumphant. Dogwoods are blooming in high mountain air. Voices drift from front porches. It’s one of those ridiculously beautiful days where you feel like you’re in a live moving painting.
My love for Virginia started about 16 years ago when a friend invited me to her house in Lexington. That first drive up 81, through the Shenandoah Valley was all it took, I was hooked.
It’s all coming back to me again, listening to the Ricky Scaggs/Bruce Hornsby cd, why I am driving from town to town playing music and why I moved to the southeast in the first place.
Here the music is a natural as breathing. The people are refined, earthy, genteel. They are natural born singers. Their voices have melodies in them. There’s still blood in the dirt. A fiddle solo has the power to conjure. There are cobblestone streets and monuments and old town squares. Rivers run along the road side like it’s just a normal everyday occurrence. Towns have names like Jamestown and Richmond. I think I have a crush on Thomas Jefferson, or is it Stephen Dillane playing Thomas Jefferson.
We wind on through a hollow and somewhere there is a barn filled with moonlight and Ceili dancers are doing a “Hey”. I go there and dance for awhile until a sharp curve pulls me back to reality.
There’s not a drop of Irish or Scottish or English ancestry in me. Yet these are the people settled here and I feel most akin to. All my life, folk music, old ballads and bluegrass have been home.
In the hustle of a traveling musicians life, it’s hard to keep perspective on what it is that you are actually doing. Between, Facebook and airports and contracts, one can get really bogged down in a mire of confusion. I sometimes feel like a swirling vortex with no destination, except hopefully a comfortable bed at night.
A day or a moment of clarity like this is a treasure. Simple truths put everything back into place. I am deeply connected to something appalachian. I love Virginia. I love to sing songs that are dark and mysterious. I love seeing people play guitar on their front porch. I love to read dense thick books about history.
And I love listening to the Mandolin Rain.