Submitted by John Werner – Victoria.
Here is the fifth report from John Werner and Garry Roberts as they continue their musical journey through the Southern USA.
The jam options for Thursday evening were numerous. We had been planning on heading back towards Roanoke and attending the weekly session in nearby Christiansburg, however, an invitation received the previous night at Independence from the organiser of the local Peachbottom Music Camp proved too tempting.
Held on a private farm located 3 ½ miles outside the town of Independence in peacefully lush valley, the camp has been running 4-5 times per year for some time now, and on this evening, we were invited along to attend their end of camp barbeque, concert and jam.
Having run into the participants on the previous 2 nights at local jams, we were aware of the high standard of students and tutors. Headed up by internationally renowned Canadian fiddlers April Verch & Shane Cook, the camp leaned more towards fiddle players, and had a fine supporting cast of musicians to assist in the practical sessions.
We’ve learned through past weeks that Americans love their bbq’s, and we were impressed by not only the quality of food at this gathering but also the size of the actual bbq vessel, absolutely huge.
The concert after the meal was an intimate affair. We were treated to world class performances by Shane, April, and the other tutors, covering Irish, Bluegrass, acoustic finger picking and Old Time. Several student bands displayed their skills and a number of local supporting musicians, whose skills were equal to the visitors, showed the great depth of talent living within the region.
The after-concert jam was essentially Old Time, but as hard core as I’ve ever experienced. Headed up by two local shearers on twin fiddles, their fierce & masculine playing set a cracking pace, as they called out tune after tune in rapid fire trying to outplay each other in friendly competition. Watching these big blokes tear their fiddles apart with their deft left-hand fingers and sublime bow hands, I had the thought that if you punched them hard in the face while playing, they wouldn’t move an inch or miss a note. Very impressive and powerful playing. Anyone thinking that Old Time can be a bit tame should have witnessed this jam session and with Mark, a local bassist pumping things along, my new Martin received a fair workout that evening.