Notes from the Road - The Purple Fiddle, Thomas, WV Tuesday, July 24th Onward. Out of Columbus I headed south-southeast dropping down into West Virginia at Parkersville. I’m surprised at how much I’m enjoying the driving. As I mentioned, I’m breaking it up into smaller chunks so that I never drive more than 4 hours in any given day (a recommendation from a veteran of the road, Diedre McCalla). I kept off the Interstates and stuck to highways that took me through beautiful farms and woodlands. Saw hawks and falcons soaring, deer alongside the roads and more corn and maze than you can shake a stick at. Decided that Clarksburg WV was a good stopping point and got a cheap room for the night. Wednesday, July 25th The drive from Clarksburg to Thomas (a little under two hours) was awesome. Winding, twisting mountain roads along streams and across rivers. Truly gorgeous and a bit of rural Americana. Kept passing little out in the middle of nowhere road side bars and was sorely tempted to stop – maybe on the days between The Purple Fiddle and the Bluegrass Kitchen down in Charleston. Thomas is a tiny little town - barely shows up on the maps. If I had to guess I’d say there’s less than 5,000 people that live here - maybe a lot less. However, it is building a reputation as a tourist area and, in the winter, is a ski destination. Here in the summer season it’s quiet relaxation and the cool mountain air that provide the draw. The Purple Fiddle itself is a treasure! If you try to imagine a Cracker Barrel restaurant that really is rustic and quaint, instead of just pretending to be, you’d be on the right track. Hundred plus year old architecture and wood work, quirky nicknacks and decor, mismatched tables, chairs, couches, church pews, school seats, all under a high stamped tin ceiling and wood floors. The room would probably not hold more than 60 seated without rearranging things a bit. It has a full, professional, raised stage with sound at the back of the room. John, the owner, runs sound - excellent. The Purple Fiddle is in a historic building that once was DePollo’s Store, built in 1915 and a local fixture from then until 1994. The purple Fiddle occupies the first floor of the three story brick building with the owners living overhead. It became the Purple Fiddle in 2002. The PF was recently written up in Goldenseal Magazine, an eight page spread. With live music 4 to 6 nights a week this is a folk and traditional music paradise, with some blues and country thrown in for good measure. I got set up early, settled into the Fiddlers’ Roost B&B next door (part of “the deal”), practiced a little, had dinner at the PF (also part of “the deal”), did my sound check, showered and got ready to play at 8 pm. At 8 pm straight up there were exactly two people in the room that didn’t work there - NOT GOOD. Kip, one of the staff members, said “man, this is unreal. I’ve NEVER seen it this slow. Usually we have a dinner rush, but tonight . . . oh man, I’m sorry!” You see the cash part of “the deal” was based on the cover charge at the door, so no folks, no $$. So I drug my feet for a couple of minutes. At about 8:15 we had a “burst” of about 10 folks so we were up to an even dozen. I went ahead and kicked the show aff with “Annie’s Chairs” and followed it with “Thrift Shop.” Before those two tunes were done we had over 40 folks in the place. It was like someone dropped the flag and they poured in! Terrific listening crowd – this is a first rate room. Folks are mostly tourists in the area on vacation or on their way to somewhere else and the Fiddle is the place to be. What a GREAT middle of the week crowd! I really love this place. Thanks so much to John, Michelle, Barbara, Kip and Mike for making this a real highlight of my summer tour. Now a couple of days off before Charleston and the Bluegrass Kitchen. Stay tuned.