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“Down Home” BACK PAGES 5/04





I’m always totally amazed at how time passes between Website updates! We are totally appreciative of your patience till we get the new products listed…and hopefully it is worth the wait!

It feels like it was a long winter…and it was a long time until it felt like Spring…but now it feels more like Summer and my body hasn’t yet acclimated the heat!! I always wish one could bottle the cool to keep for summer, and bottle the heat and keep it for when it was cold! And yet even as we think about spring…with the smell of locust jasmine hanging in the damp evening air…the lure of the music of summer beckons us to check out the sleeping bags and tents and get ready for a summer of music!

I have to send out an advance apology to friends who will expect and look for our tent and picking parlor, so to speak, at the Galax Old Time Fiddler’s Convention. At this point, I will not be setting up the booth on the “Main Drag”.

This year the Moose has decided to enforce a ruling they apparently passed several years ago–to completely restrict the sales of T-Shirts within the park to the Concession Stand that sells the official “Galax Fiddler’s Convention” t-shirts. We’ve always been aware that the use of the term “Old Time Fiddler’s Convention” or “Galax Fiddler’s Convention” was restricted to their own products or licencees…but as we sell “John Pearse®” products and t-shirts, it was never a problem. However, something apparently happened last year which has caused the “boom” to be unequivocally lowered this year, and the new ruling to be enforced to the letter of the law.

I don’t remember the first time I attended Galax–these days, I don’t really seem to remember much of anything! LOL! It was in the 70’s …at least 1976 because I ended up on the record…and I don’t think that was my first year there! I know I was there in 1978! With Joe and Dennis Dobbs and several other friends, we were camped by the trees on the road just at the bottom of the entrance to the park. That year, it seemed like we played 16 hours a day! People still come up to me, sort of shaking their heads, and ask, “Were you the girl…..” and it’s nice to know so many people remember! That was the first time Beverly Davis met me too…but he said he never came up to talk with me…just stood around with the circle of people who were there listening. Beverly was more a banjo player then…but was getting interested in the Resophonic Guitar just as other banjo players have done along the way.

It seems to me that it was about 1988 that John Pearse and I came down and just hung out and played…but we decided that we’d come back the following year and sell strings! That time, we got to be better friends with Beverly who visited not only during the festival, but also came down on Sunday after the festival was over so he could bring his Bassett Hound Droopy to meet us! John was definitely Bassett Hound People [see the comments on his album….Records]

In 1990 I started making the establishment on the “Main Drag” for which we’ve become known. There was one tent for selling strings, etc., and the second tent for playing. That way, I’d have a chance to play too, since most of the jamming normally took place well back in the camping area! And, something else happened. That tent became one place where people came to play together…whoever was playing when you walked in, well, you could just pull out your instrument and play along! And there were some amazing sessions in there! Jam sessions with friends who have passed on now which live in memory!

One fiddler had his neighbors drive him about 3 hours each way to get there. I remember someone making a comment to me about how nice I was to play along with him….because some of the notes got a little flat or sharp and his timing was off a little once and a while. And I remember I just looked at the woman and replied that if it weren’t for people like him, who would we have learned the music from? Playing along with him was the least I could do to thank him for making his music all the years when he wasn’t flat or sharp…or late….and keeping it alive till we could learn it! And, by playing along with him, his playing always got stronger…and right on!

Reece Shipley used to come and sit in the tent for hours…showing us all what happened if you knew more than 10 chords on a guitar and singing songs that took you back to childhood hearing Gene Autry and the Sons of the Pioneers! I always seemed to take a lot of pictures of Reece…and the year after he died, I brought every one I had…and invited people to take one to remember him. [If you never heard him there is a CD available which gives you the idea of what he did!]

And Beverly used to come down too…and bring his Dobro…and his chair. In the earlier years, he did more playing. In the last few years, moving around got harder for him so he’d just drive to the tent, stay a while and then drive home. Whenever he got the old “hound dog” out, whatever he played was just a joy to hear…considered, interesting…tasteful. Last year he never made it down to the park at all… Beverly died in November of 2003…shortly before Thanksgiving.

I’d like to think that my tents on the main drag were a welcoming place…people could come play without having to go out and get something to drink if it was hot because there was always a cooler of sodas and iced tea and Gatorade in the tent. I’d like to think that I sold things at a pretty good price because I wanted people to be able to have good strings to make their music…because their music was truly important to me and I owed those musicians who kept the music alive so I could learn it!!

So now I get this letter from the Moose telling me that I can’t sell t-shirts. I think Beverly would be laughing…he’d been fighting with them for years! I always felt he had a sort of proprietary interest in the Convention. His father, Dr. Whitfield Davis, ocassionally played autoharp and was basically the band manager of the Original Bogtrotters and was one of the group which helped start the Galax Fiddlers’ Convention in the first place!

We’re offering a $100 Beverly Davis Judges’ Award to be given at the Resophonic Guitar National Championships at Todd, NC this May 29th for the player who most played from the heart. That’s a very good thing and we appreciate Randy Paisley for letting us get involved in his “Festival” in this way–seemed like the right place to do it!

I guess I’m really feeling old tonight…and I apologize for that tone in my “rant”. It is just that I hate to see things change…or lose things that seemed important. The music is important! My going to Galax was the one time a year I looked forward to play music…the old time tunes I love. I always tell people who are going through changes that the only reason anything changes is to make things better. I trust I’ll understand this one in time.

Mary Faith

ps In the mean time, check out all the wonderful new stuff on the New Products Page! Buffalo Horn Picks and Bridge & End Pin Sets for Guitars, Matching End Pin and Strap Buttons to go with our Faux Tortoise Shell Pins, and check out the G7th Capo. We found this little gem at the Frankfurt Musikmesse and are delighted to be distributing it here! Made for 6 or 12 string guitar, I’ve seen people use it as a partial capo on guitar AND on mandolins and banjos as it automatically centers itself on the neck of the instrument! And, you just stick it on the peg head when you are not using it…so you won’t lose it!

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