08 September 2020

Long Journey Home commemorates masters of mountain music

Thanks to Alec Somerville for drawing our attention to Long Journey Home, the Heritage Arts and Music festival held every year on Labor Day weekend in Mountain City, TN. The festival celebrates in particular the music of G.B. Grayson and Clarence 'Tom' Ashley, both outstanding musicians and early recording artists.

As with many other events, the Long Journey Home team have responded to the pandemic by presenting a virtual festival this year. The result is a series of videos, each of up to or over twenty minutes, all worth watching for this view of one of the hotbeds of old-time music, which also influenced early bluegrass. All the videos can be seen on the Long Journey Home website and on YouTube, and two in particular should interest viewers in Ireland.

The Kody Norris Show, who were to have headlined this year's Westport Folk and Bluegrass Festival, present a 25-minute tribute (filmed in black and white) to the music of G.B. Grayson, with Kody playing fiddle, showing the band's dedication to, and knowledge of, the roots of bluegrass.

The 22-minute video 'Sawmillin' and lassy-makin'' was shot on the Ashley homestead with Kenny Price and Jerry Moses picking on the front porch - note in particular Kenny's left-handed clawhammer playing on a right-handed banjo. Note also the presence of Alec on screen in two places (beginning at 8:25 and 12:02). In previous years Alec won prizes twice at the festival, and he was consequently asked to contribute this year for an international dimension:

So I have provided them with some picking of music of the two, some talkin' and hopefully a view of their local heroes from afar. They were, by the way, outstanding and dedicated performers, and it was a privilege to me to be so requested...

A 7-minute trailer of the film 'Short life of trouble: the legend of G.B. Grayson' can be seen on Facebook as well as on the Long Journey Home website.

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