Tag Archives: robin and linda williams

Murphy HenryGreetings from Georgia! I’m down here doing my weekend with my folks. This visit happened to coincide with the nearby appearance of our friends Robin and Linda Williams, stars of radio (Prairie Home Companion) and screen (Prairie Home Companion). They and their Fine Group were playing at the Crimson Moon in Dahlonega (pronounced “Duh-lon-uh-guh), a mere hour’s drive from my hometown, Clarkesville. So I decided to catch their show Friday night on my way down. I met my sister Claire there for supper at 7, followed by the show at 8.

Robin (whose middle name is Murphy) and Linda were in fine form for two sets of mostly original music primarily drawn from their new album “Buena Vista.” (I was gonna tell you how Robin said that was pronounced in Virginia, but I can’t figure out how to spell it phonetically! Suffice it to say that “Buena” rhymes with “June” or, more precisely, “June-uh.” I had no idea this blog would include so much about pronunciation!)

Linda was playing more clawhammer banjo than I’d seen her play on a show before which was a wonderful treat. Putting the bottom in the band on electric bass as always was Jim Watson whose rendition of “Hesitation Blues,” modeled on that of the great banjo player Charlie Poole, was a highlight of the show. And on the fiddle was none other than Chris Brashear whom I had never seen with the Fine Group before. Chris is a fine songwriter in his own right, and his song “Mason’s Lament,” (which Lynn Morris recorded) is one of my faves.

Robin was kind enough to recognize me from the stage (always flattering! ) and to dedicate “Blue Ridge Cabin Home” to me. Little did he know that BRCH is so widely used by me that I now abbreviate it BRCH! It’s my “go to” song for both vamping and improvising, and at camps it’s become the perfect vehicle for a group lesson in how to play a high break. (And can be found on at least two, if not three, of our DVDs!)

Apropos of nothing musical, the woman I was sitting next to (from Gainesville, Georgia) turned out to be good friends with my best friend from Camp Echoee, Jane Adams. At the closing ceremonies of camp one year, Jane and I both got ribbons for being “Head Skinny Dippers.” Whoo hoo! Those were the days!

And on that note, I will turn myself to checking on my parents, fixing a cuppa, and starting on the unbelievably hard crossword puzzle in the Atlanta Journal and Constitution!

Red HenryHere in northern Virginia (northern with a small "n", not Northern-- none of Virginia is Northern), the Bluemont Concert Series presents a variety of excellent entertainment at outdoor shows each summer. In Winchester, the concerts are presented on the steps of the old Frederick County Courthouse, which was built long ago and has a nice green lawn in front where the audience can set up with their folding chairs or just blankets on the ground. A few days ago, the Friday-night performers were Robin & Linda Williams and Their Fine Group.

Robin (on guitar) and Linda (on banjo) are quite well-known nationally, and they had their more-or-less steady "Fine Group" together for this show, namely long-time, high-grade bluegrass performer Jimmy Gaudreau on mandolin, and fine musician and showman from way back Jim Watson, on bass. (Remember the Red Clay Ramblers?, yup, that Jim Watson.) Our old friend Gamble Rogers introduced us to Robin and Linda long ago, and we feel honored to know them.

I wasn't playing music that evening, so I decided to go down and see Robin and Linda. (Murphy needed to travel to Georgia that weekend to look after her folks, so much to her regret, she couldn't attend.) I planned to get to the show early, but between one thing and another---the "other" being that parking was hard to find in the middle of Winchester, because several hundred people had come downtown for the concert---I only got to the courthouse about eight minutes before the music was supposed to start. The band was on stage at the top of the courthouse steps, getting ready to play. But I wanted to say hello to them. I thought it would have been impolite not to.

The band was on the stage. What to do? That depends on how shy you are. So, not feeling especially shy at that moment, I just walked up one end of  the big courthouse steps, trying not to be more conspicuous than necessary (being 6'4" with red hair doesn't help me be inconspicuous) to shake and howdy with everybody. Robin and Linda were feeling good and in fine form, as always. Then as I said hello to Jimmy, his mandolin caught my eye. He said he'd only had it for a few days---it was a Kentucky mandolin with a bright blue sunburst finish! He said it had been completely reworked inside and out, regraduated, new bracing installed, and refinished. The only thing still "stock" on it was the peghead overlay. He called it his Blue Kentucky Girl---pretty appropriate, I think.

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