McClurg Jam

McClurg Jam

Monday, October 25, 2010

John Hartford toward the end

Here is John Hartford playing "Squirrel Hunters". He has his band with him, of really great musicians. Chris Sharp on the guitar dressed like Lester Flatt in the forties, Mike Compton, on the Mandolin, Mark Schatz on the Bass.

This was in 1998. John lived a couple/three more years but you can see that the disease had been taking it's toll on him. Most folks would have hit the couch and stayed there but music was his genuine passion and he loved to play for people. I believe he felt he was doing something important in keeping the fire burning. I agree that it was. And is.

Are you keeping the fire burning my friend? Is the fire in you and it has to come out? I believe John knew just how delicate the old music is, in hanging on in a culture like ours.

Music is a lot like Church. It really is. And like Church, there is a kind of succession of Bishops that really seems to matter. (Google that term if your not sure what it means)
John learned it from the old Missouri fiddlers and Banjo players. They were the real deal. In time so was he. They passed it on to him and it stuck. He was playing his heart out to pass it on to us. Will it stick?

I was late coming to the John Hartford appreciation society but the impression was made deep. Like a brand on my heart.

Bill Crahan once told me that he was not sure yet if I was a "musical person" while I was taking a lesson from him. I was a little shook over that. I knew I was not a "natural" by any means and if he decided I was not such a one, I thought he might give up on me like my first instructor did. (who's name is not worthy to mention)

I may not be a "Musical person" like Bill was looking for. I am not sure. I do know I love the music and I enjoy playing it but my laziness is holding me back from doing that well. I do know one thing. The fire is in me. That's why I write this blog. It's why I want you to know about the wonderful musicians I discover. It's why I hope you stick with that instrument your trying to play so you too might become a fine musician someday.

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