Magill and I had a great time in Goleta, California today at the Old Time Fiddlers’ Convention and Festival.
This was the 40th of these festivals, and the weather was perfect–sunny but not hot, and slightly breezy.
The Old Time and Bluegrass music was so wonderful. It made me feel like I was young, and back home in the hills of Tennessee and North Carolina–that is, except for all the giant Birds of Paradise and Palm trees…
It took me back to when I was young, just starting out in magic.
I studied poetry at East Carolina University in the late 60’s with professor Dave Lawson from New Mexico. He introduced me to Blue Grass music. He had a band called the Rocky Mountain Boys, and they were very good.
I was working with the Road Co., a traveling improvisational troupe out of Johnson City, Tennessee (this was around 1974-5). Through working with the Road Co., I became friends with Tom Bledsoe, John McCutcheon, Richard Blaustein, Bill Hicks and other local Old Time musicians, and performed doing magic in some fiddlers and blue grass conventions around North Carolina and Tennessee.
At one of these I worked with Janette Carter, and she invited me to perform at the Carter Family Store in Virginia. I did that a few weeks later, and I suspect I am the only magician to have worked there. I think it was my favorite show ever. I was so proud to have worked there.
It was during that time that I met “Peg Leg Sam” Jackson. Sam was an incredible singer, harmonica player, dancer, comedian and story teller from South Carolina. He had spent the early part of his career working in the medicine shows, and had a wealth of polished stories and jokes, and was an amazing blues and country harmonica player. I was first interested in the medicine shows from his stories. I will try to post more about Sam soon.
Later I opened for a lot of the Grand Ole Opry stars working at Tombstone Junction, a theme park in Cumberland Falls, Kentucky. I got to work with some really incredible performers, including Bill Monroe, Lester Flat, Bill Anderson, Loretta Lynn, Conway Twitty, Jerry Reed, Billy “Crash” Craddock, and Mickey Gilly.
I was so lucky to have this opportunity. It was quite a lesson in professionalism, showmanship and artistry.
Anyway, the beautiful surroundings of the Stow House, the perfect weather and the magnificent music took me back to some good times from when I was young.
It is a great convention, folks!
Make plans to go next year. You will have a great, great time!