Thursday, September 24, 2015
The venue is a mere 15 minutes from our driveway, a few miles down the pine canopied two lane Cainhoy country road. We eased the car through two narrow gate posts and up the faint indention of a dirt drive where a sandy pine-strewn churchyard led us to the hustle and bustle of set up. The sun was dipping below the pines creating a fast flurry of activity. All hands were on deck — cord setting, light positioning, tent propping, church sweeping and cork popping. When we signed in, Shane William's wife Trisha swatted a mosquito off of my forehead and pointed us to the table of repellants.
Still a half hour before the show, so Don and I promenaded the grounds. St. Thomas & St. Denis Church, (one of the ten original Anglican Parishes) is 309 years old. The original building burned in a forest fire but was re-built in 1819. It is steeped in history, both painful and joyful —such is life. It is the perfect backdrop for a collaboration of community, music and history.
Reverend Hamilton Smith caught up with us around the side of the huge church windows with a can of wasp spray "As if opening 200 year old church windows on a humid day weren't enough, I've been chasing down the survivors of the largest wasp nest I've ever seen." he said laughing while inebriating the sole survivor on the pane with a long spray blast.
I‘m glad they got those huge windows open, it was by far one of the muggiest evenings of late. The crowd thickened as quickly as the humid evening air. We went in to get our seats. Through the window I saw a beautiful RV in the churchyard sitting beside a road weary older van, the sticker on back read "The Barefoot Movement." I figured the RV belonged to the band and the van to it's roadies. Eddie White of Awendaw Green stopped and spoke with us, "The Barefoot Movement is touring the Southeast and they’ve had a hectic schedule. They left Georgia today and came straight here for the show and then need to be back in Georgia again tomorrow. Camping world provided the RV for them." So the muted gold van was actually the band's.
I asked Eddie White later how this presentation came to be. "I met TBM through my friendship with Anderson Knott who works with Hootie and the Blowfish in Myrtle Beach where the bass player Hase grew up 3 or 4 years ago and have continued to support them and watch them grow. They are so authentic, it warms the musical heart and then to gather with them in an historic spiritual structure that is so alive with the juice of generations — it's just a pleasure to the senses and soul."
The pews filled fast and so did the temps. Ladies were glistening and men were dripping. The last blast of ole sol shone through the leaded glass window panes and then it began. The cicadas and frogs started the show. I felt a whiff of a breeze on the back of my neck and turned around in the pew, the lady behind me had a church fan and was going at it full throttle. She reached down by her purse and handed me another one she had brought. Perfect!!
Finnegan Bell's duo, Shane Williams and Warren Bazemore took the stage with guest Dean Black, a steel pedal guitar player by trade and tonight playing an antique National steel resonator guitar. They started the show with their cover of "Hallelujah." After the set finished the crowd rushed to their feet in a standing ovation. As far as I was concerned, they'd just set the bar pretty darn high for The Barefoot Movement band. Intermission emptied the church for a wisp of night air and refreshments.
Cowbells's rang to signal us to return to the church for the show. I laughed out loud. I will never hear a cowbell ring again without thinking of Christopher Walken and the cast of SNL in their stint "I gotta have more cowbell!"
The Barefoot movement —Tommy Norris, Noah Wall, Hasee Ciaccio, Alex Conerly, took the stage shoeless as promised. They had me from the very first strum of the bass, bow on fiddle, pick of the mandolin and guitar pluck. I've found myself completely out of adjectives to describe them. Their performance was surreal. Like a time warp, I was planted smack dab back in the 1950's seeing all of yesteryear's country music bluegrass digitally re-mastered. If they had a weakness at all, it was unknown to the inhabitants of those stucco walls and full pews. The flushed crowd so enthralled they wouldn't have left if you'd have hollered fire.
Feet were stomping, hands clapping I could feel the vibrations in the old plank floor. TBM announced after a song that they felt the rooms percussion under their feet too. I caught movement outside of an open window, men were framed in the sills outside to watch the show in the cool night air. I had a vision of time past on this terra firma.
I will never forget that night and hubby echoed the same when we exited the church. I felt as if I'd just witnessed art on the cusp and I’ll count myself fortunate if I ever have the opportunity to see them in such an intimate setting again. The music world seems to concur, The Barefoot Movement is already being described as the future of bluegrass. Press keeps rolling in and Rolling Stone just added to the accolades. http://www.rollingstone.com/music/features/the-barefoot-movement-johnson-city-tennessees-bluegrass-future-20150821
There are more plans in the work for more presentations with STAC House Shows & Awendaw Green. Keep your fingers on the pulse of their activities, you don't want to miss their events. In the meantime, Awendaw Green is putting on a benefit concert on Oct 17th at the Windjammer for Windwood Family Services 30th year anniversary. https://www.facebook.com/events/1124884384196330/
Thank again to Holy Cross Sullivan’s Island for use of the property, Awendaw Green, STAC House Shows, The Society of St. Thomas & St. Denis Church.
Thursday, August 13, 2015
I wondered what my senior game will be. Although I like Bingo, it probably won’t be the game of choice as I gather with my 50 shades of gray-haired friends. I’m thinking I’ll be the little church lady who takes your money at penny poker and has an extra Ace cupped in hand. Or —I’ll sell Pinterest crafts roadside, maybe even build a tiny house with the wine corks I have saved.
As I started scanning my grocery items at the express self check out, the screen prompter ask’s me if I qualify for a senior citizen discount. I hit NO, but the screen won’t go away. I give the bored clerk a sideways glance so that he will move me along. He obliges, but with a smirk and I realized from his “whatever” glance that I am in between era’s. Kind of like a Tween, I’m a Tweenior.
I have choices now. I can be this, or that. I throw away the AARP mail, but keep the Roper St. Francis House Calls magazine (for the recipes.) I still want to do exciting things. But, I can make them more adaptable and fun, like I can ride up the mountain and zip line down through the trees rather than go on a 3 hour hike up the mountain.
I believe it is the most liberating time in US history to be a middle aged woman. But, I increasingly find that because I CAN choose, I flit back and forth between being the fearless Amelia Earhardt and a helpless Charleston damsel who has the vapors, praying for a Rhett Butler to catch me when I swoon.
Oh yes, I am all over the map;
Commitments and engagements are fine as long as they fall into my cycle of no cycles. I don’t want anyone telling me what to do, yet I seek guidance diligently. My emotions have gone from hair trigger to a 3 day fermentation period. I find that I give less thought to petty BS now than every before and rather enjoy sideways glances at my unpredictable responses.
If someone thinks you look like you had a good night, let them.
When the cashier’s buzzer goes off because you bought Epson salts (apparently an hallucinogenic) just look at them and wink.
I want my hair to go gray, I don’t.
I want to dance my butt off somewhere, but don’t want that “Bless her heart, Granny can still bust a move” look.
I’m too young for shuffleboard, too old for Wii dance.
And — Perplexing instructions and labels annoy the hell out of me;
"Apply crème to a soft area of your body." That one didn’t take long.
"Draw attention from trouble areas of your body by moving a person’s gaze to the good areas." Ok, so I’m down to the knees now, any suggestions for alluring knee attire?
"Age defying makeup." Can’t I just deny it myself?
"Free-roaming eggs." Yes, I put that package back in the cooler. I don’t trust a company who thinks eggs roam free.
Hmmm, just had a thought. Does that senior citizen discount include alcohol? Limbo’s not really such a bad place to be. I find I’m neither here nor there.
Wednesday, July 1, 2015
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
I, for one, believe that nothing short of a catastrophic martyrdom like this could have turned the tide of racism. There is and always will be hate. But — Charleston proved to the entire world that hate is outnumbered here. About 25 K to 1 if the bridge calculations were right.
Now those beautiful souls are being laid to rest. And there's a nervous twitter about the city. What will become of us? I don't think there is a soul in Charleston that wants to throw the sheets back over the ghost of its past. Let's continue to pursue peace and love and equality.
Wounds heal better in open air. The boils have festered deep in our soil for over 150 years. Slavery and the Civil War.
I love the South, I am not ashamed of it one bit. I am ashamed of those few, through greed and in darkness, slipped ships stealthily into our harbors and brought the curse of inhumanity. I am ashamed of the men in fine suits on the foggy docks of our ports that traded money for lives of African men women and children. No soul should ever be owned.
Good people, thinking they couldn't make a difference looked the other way when the planks were lowered into our port as one by one, families filed off to be sold at the market. If the inertia to do the right thing had been there when those ships pulled in as it was on the Ravenel Bridge this past Sunday, the port would have been closed and history would have changed forever.
Ok, so let's start with the Confederate flag? It always made me uneasy, a “Go away flag” standoffish and prideful. I liken it to neighborhood summer clubs where little clicks would get together and exclude some. Secret passwords, or secrets required to enter.
Holding on to tokens. I know the arguments, “I have family that established this town or I have ancestors who died in the Civil War.”
I had to come to grips with that myself. But, not a single prideful story of that war or was passed down on either my husband's or my side of the family. Because at some point and time we have to realize that the battles we fight aren't always the right ones. Many family members came back to their towns and cities and never spoke another word about the war. My husband didn't even know, nor did his own father, that their relative signed the succession until 5 years ago. There are no family pics passed down with confederate flags or medals or glorified tales.
When putting out my small paperback collection of stories a few years ago. I fiddled around with several names for the book. I wanted something regional that people could relate to but didn‘t want to use an ad-nauseum pronoun for the south. I chose Piddlin in Dixie. I researched it, geographically Dixie was used to describe areas below the Mason -Dixon line. There are other derivatives for the word that may offend. So, although the books are out there, I will be changing the title for future publications of stories to Piddlin in Plough Mud.
I hold my breath and pray as our beloved city mourns the death’s of 9 of it’s own. God speed your souls to a welcome father who will greet, “Well done my good and faithful son’s and daughters.”
Tuesday, June 2, 2015
I went outside to look for solace in the garden. Ok, so it's not a garden. It's a 4 x 7 plot, a tribute to my daddy, who was a good farmer. I am still raw sometimes and wanted a place that I could water with tears and laugh at memories.
It works out well, weed pulling and crying go hand in hand. The pinnacle of my garden is the single eggplant that I snuck in amidst the Alcea and Phlox for fear of the HOA police, who will write you up for a dandelion. The sun is dipping in the west and I am feeling better about the day’s end. I ran my hand over the rosemary bush to release it's aroma and inhaled, doing the same with the basil and sage. Then I saw it, the curled up leaves on the eggplant. I can't kill this eggplant, my tribute to my daddy, the master gardener! I ran to cut the sprinkler on.
As the water dripped onto it's first purple blossoms I was reminded of how I could call my daddy for anything and he would have the answer. This eggplant was a reminder of one of my distress calls to daddy while living in NC. We had two long rows of brilliant green squash plants, bright with blooms and then — the flowers just dropped off, no veggies in sight. I called Daddy.
"Do you see bees around them? Daddy asked.
"Nope, not one. There's a tobacco field nearby and I think they just sprayed chemicals." I answered.
"Ok then. they need pollinating. " he said matter of factly.
I started searching for a pen, thinking he was going to tell me to go to a hardware store and buy a box of bees or some magic farmer potion. But, uh uh.
"Nae —you've got to screw em." he said.
"Well, (insert audible gasp) how do we do that daddy?" I asked.
"You take a Q-Tip, you go out and find the female & male squash." he instructed.
WTH, I didn't know squash had genders. He explained how to determine.
"Now you put the Q-Tip in the male and then put it into the female." I shake my head, blushing 300 miles away.
Okay so I hang up and go into the garden with my Q-Tips. Within 5 minutes my ADD is directing me to do something else as I have grown weary of checking which is male and which is female and screw them all. I am positive that I now have gender bender squash. A week later I peeked under the massive plants to find lots of tiny squash growing, I couldn't wait to call daddy. I could hear him grinning on the phone.
So, back to my memory garden, I tell this single eggplant that it MUST live. I left the sprinkler on the eggplant while I was called once again to another fascination. I intended to come back in a spell — The spell lasted all night.
When I opened the door the next morning in my gown. I wailed. "No!!!!!!!!!!" The yard was a puddle. I was sick to my stomach. The sprinkler sound on the wet concrete will remain forever. I walked to the driveway and picked up the swollen Moultrie Newspaper and looked down the road. Two blocks of my neighborhood have been watered. Don pulled his truck out of driveway and water rolled out of the back of his truck. It was the final straw for the week, I broke down crying.
I called Charleston Water department. Sally was sympathetic. “Mrs.Brabham I can give you an estimate of how much water you used if you go outside and lift the plate and take a reading.” she said.
“Ok , but I will have to call you back I am in my gown and I don't need to draw any more attention from my neighbors this morning.” I explained.
I changed and went out the door, my slippers are saturated and sloshing as I cross the yard. I can't lift the water works plate. I call Sally back to tell her I couldn't lift it, she made some nice suggestions and I resign myself to the error.
I now consider this a true Heirloom squash. Possible rare and worth a lot of frigging money, errr... however much the water bill determines. But, somehow, I can't help but think that somewhere over that moon and beyond the galaxy, my Daddy is laughing, “Screw that eggplant, Nae”