Song of the Mountains, on MPT, between 4 and 5 AM, "Jessie McReynolds & the Virginia Boys," from 2009--here's a venerable man from Grand Ol' Opry, with grandchildren playing good music. It is fuller entertainment than just music. Bluegrass, it is called. But one subliminally remembers Hamlet, awake, troubled, his enthusiasm for the players, for they will catch the conscience of the king, get to the kernel of the issue. Here it is, calming entertainment for the insomniac, from The Lincoln Theater in Marion, Virginia, and a pretty granddaughter Amanda's voice to grace the band. "These people are born able to sing," because it's not that easy, I would know.
Compelling material, heartbreak, dreams, 'it's you I'm thinking of my heart echoes the love words you've spoken, .... won't you answer a heart that is broken, and make my wishful thinking come true, my wishful thinkin' come true.'
The old guy is in good shape. Black Muddy River, a Robert Hunter-words/Jerry Garcia-the music song. Good head of hair, dark, a Lincolnesque face, though not a tall fellow. Harmonies. Strong jaw and cheekbone, a hawk nose, inherited by charming granddaughter, a kindly face, a kindly way, a man comfortable being himself on a stage, nothing more, nothing less than what he is.
Three chord songs, more or less, with the alternation, one to four, to one, to five, to one, and so on. A ribbon of paper clipped to the tuning peg of the mandolin.
"Let's get back to the bluegrass," he says, and it's Shenandoah Valley Breakdown, an instrumental. Fiddle, now banjo, claw hammer style, then the feverish mandolin, the earliest of rock'n'roll strumming style, and the ballgame continues. Shave and a haircut, six pence. Grey Grand Ol' Opry style Western jacket, grey. The grandson, a hefty guy in a black suit plays the standard D-28 with that good thump.
People from coal mining towns. The crowd, elderly, a happy audience. A final song, grandfather
and granddaughter singing in harmony in the same microphone, That Air Mail Special of Mine, and the crowd stands, applauding.
Song of the Mountains dot org.