I was honored to have done the photography and design for his CD and so cool that they did a close up of it ;)
Much love to Presley and his family !
we are all so proud of little Presley Barker and his amazing picking ! As Wayne Henderson noted, "Presley has a great work ethic and you can tell he has put a lot of time in years of practice . " so right Wayne.
I was honored to have done the photography and design for his CD and so cool that they did a close up of it ;)
Much love to Presley and his family !
So right now I'm in bed with my iPad and it's pouring raining outside ! Great time for a blog eh! Last week was some beautiful weather and I managed to interview 2 important Musicians . Kay Justice of Wytheville, Va. Whom I have had the pleasure to get to know at the local jams here and running into her at some great jams outside of Wytheville too, such as Steve Kelbys Christmas jam. Kay has a beautiful mountain voice and has studied extensively the Carter sisters style. She has also sung with many of her mountain sisters that are from the same style and era. Women such as Hazel Dickens , Alice Gerand and Ginny Hawkins have all been her musical companions and are all well renowned for their rich southern voices and Carteri style playing. Kay , and her partner Joyce, are both lovers of Dashounfs and Kay brought her beloved Bentley to her portrait session at the Reed Creek Farm , here in Wytheville. Kay was such a pleasure to spend time with and such an honor to get to know her better .
I also had a chance to interview young Liam Purcell last week and he arrived with his entire family , who drove all the way from North Carolina to the Reed Creek Farm. It was great to meet his parents , William and Janet and his little brother, Kenyon. Liam plays about every instrument , but ne brought his mandolin, banjo and fiddle to the session. My favorite place to take pictures is the hay loft, at the farm ,as the light is just perfect late in the day and the background is dark and rustic .
Liam is a very charming chap and he was fun to direct and joke with , as we tried different portrait ideas. I had an idea of him juggling his instruments and we did shoot all the elements for this, which will take me some time to create in Photoshop, but I love a challenge and he loved the idea !
Liam said his father suggested music lessons, when he was six ,and that it did not come easily for him at first and that it took a years for him to start catching on. He said that adding more instruments actually increased his understanding of how music works ,and that opened the door for him to learn more easily and feel more passionate about being a musician , which is his main goal in life , to continue and focus on making this his living and his life. Best wishes Liam!
Can y'all even believe December is here and Christmas is next week !
The warm weather has really been wonderful and I think it has made us all feel a little less 'expectant ' for the Holiday . Then we go from near 70 degrees the last few days to 20 degrees , as I sit here typing. Now that is just a brutal readjustment ! Ha!
I am still recovering from my rotator cuff surgery and will start my PT next month. This has kept me from being able to continue interviews , as I would like , as I just don't have the strength back in my arm yet, and so it will take me a bit to get back to normal , but I'm a working on it !
I have been enjoying my new Sony equipment and , with the warm weather we have had , it has been fun to go driving and just aim the camera out the window , or if there is a place to pull over, I like to walk around and take some shots .
One of my fav roads in Wythe County is 'Old Stage Rd' which runs from Wytheville to Rural Retreat . I drove this road many a year taking my daughter to and from elementary school and then again during her last two years of high school. I always enjoyed the drive and watching the change of the seasons along the country roads .
There is an orchard in Rural Retreat called "William's Orchard' and I always loved driving by and watching the apple blossoms bloom in the Spring and then the pumpkins dotting the field in their festive orange and now the stark branches of the Apple Orchard against the winter indigo skies are just beautiful !
I once wrote a card to the Orchard owners thanking them for his farm and the delight it gave my daughter , as we made our journey to and from school . There is just something so serene about witnessing such glorious pure nature changing right before your eyes, ,that even a bad day at school could never tarnish our appreciation !
When Cassidy was in the 3rd grade she had a wonderful teacher , Mrs Schack, who would sing to her students ,and I recall ,one day driving her to school past a rambling corn field where there was nothing but blue sky and corn stalk rows on either side of us ,and my daughter suddenly bursting out with "Oh what a glorious morning, oh what a glorious day. My what a wonderful feeling, every things going my way !"
Now, that is a great way to start your day !
Thank you Mrs Schack for being a loving teacher and making my daughter happy ! Thank you to Williams Orchard for the beauty of your farm, our community is so blessed to have you !
There is something very calming and yes, spiritual about driving the back roads, all alone, with nothing but the window open and the fresh mountain air in my hair. I have come to know the same trees and mountain ridges ,at sunset, in every season and I love the way they seem to recognize me too when I come around the bend. Whether they bare fragrant flowers in the spring, or shiny bright green foliage in the Summer and then Orange and golden leaves in the Fall, it is no matter, like friends with all their anguished changes, they are kin to me and I to them. Today, I watched ,as these same friends, reached their naked delicate hands upward into the sunset sky and etched a black stark statement that they will not leave , although they may change dramatically , they are constant and steadfast and loyal as the earth from which they come.
In a world of such turmoil .. I find such deep comfort in this ,and to which I will cling with no apologies .
Unfortunately I have had to take some time off from my interviews and take care of a torn rotator cuff that happened back in March. I was hoping for it to heal on it's own, but no such luck. Doc told me that once the muscle leaves the bone, it ain't gonna find it's way back and reattach itself , so had to bite the bullet and schedule surgery . There is NO good time to have surgery , so just decided whatever the doc chose would be fine . October the 23rd was the day and so its been a little over 2 weeks and I am doing okay. It's a long process , as I have to keep my arm still for 6 weeks to heal and then take PT for 3 months to get the use of my arm back. I went through this with my right arm 12 years ago and it is not much fun . But, I do know with time and patience and a lot of PT , I will get my arm back, so that is certainly a positive outcome !
I have had to rethink my life as a photographer carrying so much heavy gear around all the time and decided I must lighten the load ! So I did some research and found that Sony had just announced a new mirrorless camera that is ½ the size of the Canon 5DMKlll I was shooting with and thus much lighter ! Sony also had a line of lenses that weighed mere ounces , where my canon glass weighed in by the lbs ! So, I immediately decided to part with all my canon gear and dive head first into Sony !
The gear is so much lighter I have even been out shooting some Fall landscapes using my one good arm ! I must say, I am proud I took the chance and made the switch to this new technology ! These little Sony cameras ( I got the A7Rll and the A7S) have a great old time vintage look to them and they are every bit as good as any current DSLR out there ! In fact, Sony now leads the way in noise free high ISO and amazing dynamic range ! I have been so blown away with my new gear that it has me excited again about what the future holds !
I can't wait to resume my interviews and start posting some new portraits of our wonderful musicians !
So keep checking back, as I am not giving up , I am just getting started !
Thanks ya'll !!
Just giving some love to Jayne Henderson, who lives in Asheville, NC and works out of her Dad's shop In Rugby, Virginia . She has been working as an artist/ Luthier now for 4 years and truly deserves the recognition she is now receiving for her finely crafted guitars and Ukes. Every one of her instruments is created with careful thought to design and ascetics, and are , one of a kind , works of art !
How do I know ? Well, I know because I watched her build my shade top parlor guitar last Summer and I was just blown away by her keen eye to every detail and her concern to make an instrument that she would not want to part with , because of the love, dedication and soul instilled in every moment of the making . (I will come back soon and post pix of my guitar , I call her Baby Jayne and she is my retreat every night before I go to bed, to sit on the couch and to run my hands over the beautiful blistered maple back and spruce top ,and then to kick back and hear the beautiful tones coming from the simple chords that I play. I wrote my first song on this guitar "Granny Understands" I just may put it on the book CD)
I also won a soprano Uke made from gorgeous lacewood ! Jayne made this Uke to help out the 'CJ Thumbs Up' organization. I bid on the auction , and lucky me won ! ( I will come back when I am on my computer and upload pix of both my EJH instruments !)
So proud and honored to know you Jayne ! Keep creating and producing instruments that add such soul to the music and go straight to the musician's heart! (Rather beginner or professional ) I know your guitar has made me improve because of the sheer joy of playing it !
Check out Jayne's interview in 'Smoky Mountain Living' Magazine :
My last two interviews were with little Presley Barker and Kitty Amaral. Both of these young'uns are getting some well deserved attention in the music world !
Presley and his whole family came to the farm for his interview and we had fun taking his pictures and I even did a video of him showing his amazing guitar skills in the creek ! He recently won first place in adult guitar at the Galax fiddlers convention and he is only 11 ! That ain't easy to do folks ! We are now working on some CD Design ideas for his first CD "Just Ten".
Kitty and her Mom Noel, also came to the farm and it was such fun taking Kitty's pix as we pretended she was an American Eagle model and she was good at it ! At 13 she is winning hearts and awards with her skillful and beautiful fiddling tunes ! Her CD 'Fiddle Gems' was voted best Appalachian folk on the CD Baby web site, where you can go and listen and buy some of her great tunes !
My next interview is Dale Morris who has been a musician and Galax Fiddlers Convention announcer for many years. I look forward to meeting him !
Thanks y'all !
I have decided to try another clothesline session as I have still not gotten quite what I have envisioned in my mind. I know I want an old time Mother -Daughter picture with the Mom singing as she is hanging clothes and dressed in old cotton dresses and wearing an apron. I went out and found an old wicker laundry basket ,which I think is important and Teresa Wassum ( Owner of the Reed Creek Farm ) is going to hang a pretty old quilt on the line for me. I have taken some pix of her little niece Kassie Hackler who has the most wholesome country face and her Mom, Lisa has a timeless country woman look that is hard to describe, but she has it .
So we are gonna hang out at the clothesline tonight and see if we can create some magic. I will come back later and post some samples! Wish us luck and hopefully no storms tonight !
I met Helen a few years ago at Wayne's shop (They have been a couple and play together for 20 years )
We met at The Reed Creek Farm yesterday and did some portraits of her around the farm and in the kitchen and I think we got some sweet ones. It began to rain (which has been nightly ) during our photo session and so we got on the porch to chat. Helen and I are the same age and so we had fun talking about the sixties and how folks didn't mind having it rough back then as it was all part of the adventure . We hitch hiked and lived in VW buses and just rambled around and made friends wherever we went. Helen pointed out that music is really a community of wonderful folks and I totally agree . I mentioned that art and music feels like a religion , a way of believing and living because of how it enhances everyones life and increases good will among those who take part.
Helen started a wonderful program a few years ago called JAM Junior Appalachian Music program 'Building community one note at a time ' . This program helps kids who do not have the exposure to music or the ability to buy an instrument a chance to learn to play and appreciate the music of our mountains ! Its a wonderful program and I commend her and all those involved in caring about the children and passing it on !
Thank you Helen !
I drove out to Wayne Henderson's shop last week. Tuesday is always visitor day and always pretty busy , but I had chatted with Herb by email and set up his interview and he said he was even gonna bring a clean shirt ! :) I asked about interviewing Wayne and Herb said I would need to just see if Wayne could fit it in when I got there .
When I arrived I was glad to see Wayne's daughter Jayne there and her sweet dog 'Harper'. I bonded with Jayne last year while she made my 'Baby Jayne' guitar and I interviewed her and her Momma , Carol , so I feel like we are old friends now.
When I went in the shop I was surprised to see Stevie Barr there, as I have been after him for an interview so we got to chat about that and he promised to make time this summer for me to interview him and his momma , Becky.
Herb and I did some portraits on the porch and then sat under the tree in the yard and did his interview . I did not know he was also a bee keeper and he shared some interesting facts about bees with me ! We talked about what it was like growing up in the old days and I was shocked to find he is 20 years older than me ! It was my birthday that day July 7th and I had just turned 65 and , if you have seen Herb he sure does not look any older than me ! Not sure what his secret is unless its his gentle steady disposition . Herb always has a sweet smile on his face. I think you will enjoy his interview when you read it !
I was also picking up a guitar that wayne had kindly repaired for me and I heard it was a doozy to repair . He did a great job on it and it now sounds good ! ( This was a guitar made by another luthier ) I asked wayne if he would grant me a small interview and he joked that he was not gonna talk as long as Herb did ! Ha! We sat on the porch and talked for bout 40 minutes and I asked him about his Momma , whom I know he loved dearly. I had wanted to get a good portrait but some folks from NY showed up and Wayne needed to visit with them as they had called and he was expecting them. Wayne always welcomes visitors !
I will get back another day and get some more pix and get wayne to sign my Baby Taylor that will be in my Kickstarter campaign !
I'm Susi Lawson, a local Photographer who loves Appalachian Music and this book is a dream-project dear to my heart that I hope to see come true!