A last-minute change of plans found us at Ted Wrench’s annual Bluegrass Music Festival in Coventryville, New York, where I had the honor of playing fiddle with Ted as a member of the Wrench’s Wranglers. Our wonderful friends, John and Joyce Warner loaned us the use of a very adequately-sized tent and with our air mattresses and sleeping bags and blankets we were very comfortable and dry in spite of the torrential downpours and lightning storms that frequently presented themselves when least expected or desired. We stayed right through until mid-morning of Monday before leaving. We had planned to make Roanoke, Virginia by nightfall Monday and actually came very close to our target, settling down for the night at an Econo-Lodge in Staunton, VA.
While at Ted and Brenda Wrench’s festival, we enjoyed the company of so many old friends. Mary spent quite a bit of time visiting with Marge, Val and Bill ( I had a great time with them, too, drinking their coffee and eating Marge’s homemade apple cider doughnuts) and often would show up across the way where I was busy pickin’ with Dick Burdo and his many friends, including Linda, Tom, and the other Tom and several players who came in and out throughout the weekend. I got a little picking in with the Cedar Ridge band (Butch, Rick and Kenny) and got to meet their stand-in banjoist/dobroist, Tom, who was filling in for Al Queen who had other business and was unable to attend the festival. I had sure hoped to run into Al. Knowing he has roots in the state of TN, I had lots of questions to ask him.
Because I was only playing with the one band, I had plenty of time to catch other bands and I was very pleased with the sounds of each and every one of them. It’s always amazing to see how well Laura’s doing with her fiddle and lovely voice. It’s been so much fun watching her grow up over the years and mature into the fine musician and lady she’s become.
Of course, it goes without saying what a treat playing in Ted’s band is for me. His band members are so much fun: Bud on bass, Butch and Kenny on guitars, Rick on mandolin, Carl on 5-string, yours truly on 2nd fiddle with the star of the show, Ted on 1st fiddle.
I was so happy to see my great friend and favorite singer, Steve Lane and my favorite bass player/swing guitarist, Don Hudson. The three of us, Steve, Don and myself, settled down to several hours of tremendous picking and singing at Dick Burdo’s camper while others from all over the festival would pop in to sing and pick with us.
We sure enjoyed our visit with Dennis and Karen and John and Joyce down at the “U” turn in the woods. Had I not been involved in watching Cedar Ridge perform, I would have joined in the fun at the “Banjo Convergence” now having completed its’ fourth season.
After having our “umpteenth” meal at Carl and Bernie’s food shack and having said our “goodbyes” on Monday morning, we left our many friends behind and headed for Tennessee. It is remarkable how smooth the roads are in Maryland, West Virginia and Virginia compared to Pennsylvania. I think while traveling through PA the only time I was in the seat was when I was changing directions! I don’t ever remember PA having smooth roads. Perhaps the farther south one travels the less road damage noted from old Jack Frost.
After spending the night in Staunton, Virginia, and traveling the next morning, we left Interstate 81 and took state route 93 south to our new home in Afton, TN.
We spent a while unloading the car and moving in to our fully-furnished home in the hills overlooking a beautiful mountain range and pastures dotted with black angus cows.
Later, we explored Greeneville, Tusculum and Rheatown. More on these expeditions will follow.