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One of my favorite Music On The Square performance so far has been the unusual beats and rhythms of Americana as presented by Marci Salyer & Midnite Flyer, but I also loved the Mudbugs playing a great variety of upbeat songs from Fats Domino and other jazzy classics to which the crowd foot-tapped, laughed, smiled, clapped, cheered, and danced, including women with men and adults with children and toddlers even. Patients from Greene Valley are moved to the street in their wheelchairs. An ambulatory, very short man dances joyfully with a CNA who holds his hands and sways, laughing. He pulls her up again later because he wants to dance again, and does. One young man boogies down the sidewalk with his little son's right hand in his, the child also dancing somewhat uncoordinatedly but happily by his side. Sam Burke on bass and harmonies, an ETSU computer professor with shoulder-length curly white hair, mustache and short beard who also plays with the legendary Jonesborough Novelty Band, opens for the Mudbugs with, "Okay, folks. It's Friday night in America!" During a later Friday evening presentation Steve Cook, 1998 founder and organizer of MOTS, has just given away some $10 t-shirts to those in the crowd who'd traveled furthest to be there: Holland, Ireland, Florida, and Chicago. Then, he asks, "How many people know what The Crooked Road is?" and some of us raise our hands, knowing it to be an established traditional Appalachian music trail in Southwest Virginia. Suddenly Steve laughs, points to someone in the audience, and says, "Give that man a t-shirt!" as he goes on to relate, "That man just answered, 'The road to the White House.'" The crowd laughs, the man get his t-shirt, and Asheville singer/songwriter Chuck Brodsky, who has played for the Baseball Hall of Fame and has quite a repetoire of CDs, walks toward the microphone with his guitar. After playing one humorous satirical song, he recounts how he and his father argued daily over breakfast that he wanted to be a lawyer, while his father kept insisting that he be a guitar player. The song had been about how every minor accident could be the subject of a lawsuit for monetary damages, alluding particularly to the true story of a woman who spilled hot coffee on herself and received a very large settlement thereafter from the fast food franchise selling it through her lawyers. After the next funny lyrics after littering, he explains that the words are irony and reads an e-mail from a Virginia woman who took them literally. When hearing them on a CD by a Virginia band to whom the letter is addressed and forwarded to him, she protests their lack of environmental awareness, saying she'd throw away the CD if the rest of it wasn't so good and suggesting that they not perform that song before audiences containing children due to their social irresponsibility. "Irony," Brodsky repeats. "The lyrics are irony." Perhaps the MOTS highlight to date has been Dr. Joseph Sobol, Chair of ETSU's Storytelling Masters Degree program, playing a difficult and beautiful Bach sonata on his antique harp-guitar, although there are so many extraordinarily excellent performances -- from Jill Smith singing, accompanied by her acoustic guitar, original songs including "Are You The Next One?" to the all female Polecat Creek singing harmony and playing strings (fiddle, guitar, banjo and bass) for their original folksy classic tunes -- that it's nearly unfair to single out any one performance.
Original material c. A Country Rag, Inc. and/or Jeannette Harris, Jonesborough Tennessee, April 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013. All rights reserved.