A day in the life of ….
A work camping tourist
It’s been a little slow, for us, this week at the campground. I work in the store and taking reservations and they had enough people to work so I was only scheduled for two days this week. . Dave works maintenance. He has developed a cold, so since he wasn’t feeling that well, he took off half of today and all of tomorrow.
We found a pretty cool place to go in Galax, pronounced Gay-lax, Virginia last week and went again this week. Blue Grass / Mountain music is very popular in this area. They have lots of festivals and music venues that draw people in from all areas, even some from several states away. The Rex Theater is a historic old theatre in downtown Galax and every Friday night the local radio station, WBRF 98.1 FM broadcasts the music from the Rex stage. Their website says it’s a 100,000-watt station and can be heard in 5 states and also on the web. The show is called Blue Ridge Back Roads. The theater is 70 years old and has a comfortable old time feel to it if that makes sense. The seats are cloth and comfortable and they have wooden armrests. There’s a hole for drinks cut in the armrests but it’s too large for the canned soda and bottled water they sell in the concession stand. When they give you your drinks, they also hand you a plastic cup. You set the cup in the hole in the armrest, place your drink in the cup and voila, it won’t fall through the hole. Thoughtful and easy solution to what could be an aggravation. The light colored wood floors just add to the character of the theatre. Prices may change at some time, but right now, it’s $5 a person and the drinks and popcorn at the little concession stand are a dollar.
We went last week. The performers for that night were the VW boys.
Unfortunately, I didn’t take notes about them last week. But I did pull a little information on them off the web. We really enjoyed listening to them. They played banjo, guitar, and bass. The humor they added was so funny and clean. A nice change from a lot of comedians today. You can find them on the web under Mountain Roads Recording -VW Boys. Their names are Tim White, Dave Vaught and “Fat Albert” Blackburn. Tim is the banjo picker and the baritone singer. Dave plays guitar and has 9 albums to his credit. He has also entertained as a magician. Albert is also a fine singer and plays the bass. I understand that they played some of the same venues, eventually decided to join together and have been playing together for several years now. Either together, or separately they’ve performed on some pretty big stages including the Kennedy Center and the Grand Ole Opry. You can find out more about them on www.Mountainroadsrecordings.com. Picture of them is above.
Tonight, we went back again. This time was a little different. For one, it was on a Thursday. The big Houston Fest starts tomorrow. Since that draws such a large crowd and the radio station and Rex Theater sets up there, the performances at the theater were scheduled for a Thursday this time.
This time I took some notes, but I’m sure you can find information about these entertainers online as well.
We learned about J.A.M. This is an organization focused on helping young people learn about and perform mountain music. It stands for Junior Appalachian Musicians. There was a young fiddle player. I think she looked to be about 10-11 years old. She played one tune very well for us. Then there was another young lady that had an awesome voice and sang one song for us. Four other young people followed her. The young lady played the fiddle, a young man played the mandolin, another young man played the guitar and the fourth young man played the bass. They all sang and they did a couple songs for us.
The shows last two hours and have a 10-minute break halfway through. After the JAM entertainers, Wayne Henderson and Presley Barker played for us. They did what they called “flatpicking” which according to Wikipedia is playing the guitar striking the strings with a pick instead of your fingers. Something else I learned tonight. I don’t know their ages but Wayne was obviously older and stated he’s known Presley since he was a young child. Presley looked to be somewhere around 17 years old. Couldn’t really tell. A picture of them is below. They played the first half of the show and were followed by three young men called the 3 Heath Brothers. From what they said on stage, I learned that Wayne has been making instruments for somewhere around 30 years; maybe more. He’s made guitars for people such as Ricky Skaggs and Vince Gill. He’s performed in Carnegie Hall and went to Washington DC to be honored as the National Heritage Award winner. We were told this was the highest folk music honor there is. Presley at his young age has received some pretty high honors as well. He got the chance to “jam” with Ricky Skaggs and has been invited to play at the Grand Ole Opry. We really enjoyed their music. The sounds that came out of those guitars and the speed at which their fingers moved across the strings was so impressive.
After the break, the 3 Heath Brothers came out. The younger of these three are the twins, Christian and Clayton. Their older brother, by two years, is Nicholas. As they mentioned several times, none of these boys are old enough to drive. These boys sang several of their songs acapella. Most of their songs were harmonies accompanied by recorded music At one time, Nick, a self-taught piano player, played one tune for us. A little later, the boys brought out their trombones and trumpets and joined by their dad played another tune for us. The boy’s father is a pastor in North Carolina as well as being their driver and sound man. Their mother, who at one time had 3 children in diapers, is the daughter of missionaries and spent her first 13 years of life living in Guatemala. She’s the one who encouraged and taught her children to sing while they were very young. Not surprising, since their dad is a pastor and their mother the daughter of missionaries, their performance consisted primarily of praise or worship music. These boys have very nice clear voices. They’re young and full of energy. I expect that these boys will go far. They also can be found online by googling 3 Heath Brothers. I believe they said their facebook site has over 2 million hits.
Here’s a picture of the Rex Theater
I tried to copy and paste some of the pictures of the inside of the theater but I couldn’t get it to work, but you can check them out at www.rextheatergalax.com
We won’t be going next week because we’re taking off and making a trip to Washington D. C. I’m sure I’ll have something about that trip next time.