Notes from the Road – Trenton, Ga. to Knoxville, TN

Notes from the Road – Trenton, Ga. to Knoxville, TN Had a bustling day Monday. I’ve brought all my computer gear (including my color laser printer) so the camper during the day is like a home office. I had posters, postcards, etc. to print for a show in WV next week, so I did those and ran in to the post office in Trenton to get those in the mail. Trenton is a quaint little town. On the way back I saw an old fashioned town graveyard so I stopped and wandered a bit. The graves in the front of the cemetery were the oldest and they worked back from there. The markers and monuments bore dates as early as the 1830’s. You could tell which families had moved on or died out as their plots were crumbling and weed covered. You could also tell who the prominent families in the community are by the conditions of their plots. I saw graves for folks that had lived remarkably long lives for the period of time – one lady was over a hundred when she died in 1911. I also saw grave stones for young people, less than 20 and some infants. When I wander a cemetery like this I always wonder about who the people were and what things they’d experienced. Probably not as fascinating as I imagine. Monday night’s show in the campground was terrific. I learned last year that weekday shows are the best for the campgrounds. I always walk around during the day to say hello to folks and make sure they know about the show. There are few campers here during the week, but with only one exception every single camper was present. These are the small, intimate crowds that every songwriter lives for. And, surprisingly rewarding financially as well. There is no admission, of course – just a tip jar and CD’s. But, without exception I’ve found that these folks generously toss appreciation into the tip jar (many times what you normally see in a coffeehouse type setting) and hungrily buy CD’s. Had I charged an admission fee, some would not have come in the first place and those that did would not have been able to buy the number of CD’s that the full crowd did. I really like this approach for weekday “filler” shows when you would otherwise be idle or playing a coffeehouse on a tips / sales basis anyway. I used my new, compact Fishman SoloAmp sound system and really loved it. What a treat to have the whole system in one rolling bag weighing 30 lbs! The sound coverage is excellent and no feedback unless I turned directly into the unit from very close range. Really makes set up less of a chore. Tuesday was a work day getting email done, checking in on the status of the Welcome Home Project, conference call with my “folk mom”, Kari Estrin, in Nashville, accounting work, etc. – yep, dull and boring. But, I took a break at lunch time and went to tour the Chickamauga Battlefield which is close by. It is the oldest of the national military parks, dedicated in 1895. Covering 8,000 acres it is also one of the largest. I started in the visitor’s center with a 20 minute movie that explained the general troop movements, etc. Like most of those productions it was unnecessarily corny and dumbed down, but nevertheless gave the basic information to let you guide yourself through the park. One of the first things you come to on the self guided car tour is the monument erected by the State of Florida honoring those regiments of the CSA from our home state. Impressive monuments exist throughout the park marking the places where each State’s troops engaged in action, where certain soldiers were wounded or killed, etc. These battlefields always have a profound effect on me. The park is so peaceful, hardly anyone there during the week, dozens of deer roaming and grazing unconcerned with my presence. To think of this place shrouded in the smoke of battle and soaked with the blood of young Americans leaves me with an eerie sense of sorrow, duty, honor and incredulity all mixed together. There are so many that think they understand why that war was fought and what goals it accomplished I won’t dare offer my viewpoint. It was interesting that the bookstore in the visitor’s center had volumes covering all viewpoints and I overheard two different people registering formal complaints with the guards on duty regarding what they viewed to be historical inaccuracies being perpetuated by the exhibits. But, one thing is clear to me - we don’t learn much from history and continue to make the same blunders time and again. Wednesday was an up and on the road early day – time to appear on WDVX’s Blue Plate Special in Knoxville. The station’s studio is located in the Knoxville Visitor’s Center and has a formal performance stage set up in the lobby with the gift shop and coffee bar. Every day at noon the station presents a live performance broadcast. It’s very popular with the locals. About 60 seats are set up (including the standard lunch tables) and folks come in for the lunch hour and the show. By 11:45 am there were few seats left and those were gone by Noon. It was a very enjoyable show and performance to this pure listening (and munching) crowd. The host, Matt Morelock, does an excellent job keeping things organized and moving. The show draws acts from the very big names in folk and bluegrass (Doyle Lawson, Tim O’Brien, David Olney, etc.) to lesser mortals like me. They record the show and provide you with a CD and I videoed the performance as well. Hopefully the links work and you can see me do “Yellow Butter Moon” in front of the Blue Plate Wall of Fame. Its Thursday as I write this and its rainy out. That’s OK, because I’ve got lots of work to do. Stay tuned for more!