Faithful readers will recall that for the past three years Chris and I regularly attended an open microphone event called Pickin’ in the Park, held during the summer at Natural Tunnel State Park in Duffield, Virginia. We don’t live close enough anymore to make regular appearances, but this weekend I had to take Chris to nearby Big Stone Gap to spend a week with Ron Short (Chris will be helping Ron teach an old-time singing class at this week’s Cowan Creek Music School in Whitesburg, Kentucky). Since the second Pickin’ in the Park was this weekend, we decided to leave a bit early so we could stop by.
The program is slowly and steadily building momentum. There were maybe 100 people in the audience, especially good because the afternoon threatened to turn rainy and eventually did. We played three new songs we’ve been working on, and they were well received. And we were delighted to see some friends from St. Peter there. Three of the four members of Maker’s Mark (Jonathan Daugherty, Mark Osborne, and Joshua Blackburn) played a couple of fiddle tunes and sang a couple of songs; they had the cloggers up and dancing, and the audience was pretty pleased.
The program traditionally ends with an onstage jam with all the musicians. Unfortunately it was just at that point that a storm moved in, bad enough to make it prudent to shut down the sound system. But nobody wanted to venture out into a heavy rain, so we played for close to an hour without amplification. I don’t know how much the crowd could hear, particularly the vocals, but they kept asking for another and we kept obliging.
As it ended Ron Short arrived to collect Chris. We chatted for a bit, and I helped load Chris’s instruments into Ron’s car and gave him a care package from the farm—fresh baked bread, strawberry and peach preserves, and a cabbage head—and then they were gone, and it was a long drive home without my usual driving partner.