No April Fools…
My printmaking adventure started in France, at a friend’s studio in a lovely little village situated in the former provence of the Perche. It was early morning on September 18, 2013 when I received the call that Kenny Hall had just passed away in Fresno. Since this was the day I had planned to work in the studio I chose to make an etching of my friend on the day of his transition.
With the help of my friends and their studio I made an image to remember him by. The process was so wonderful and amazing that I became hooked on intaglio printmaking. Since then I have continued to study and create prints. I recently completed two more prints of musicians that hold special significance in my life. With the extra time I have of late, I’ve organized them and put them into archival protective envelopes.
If you are not familiar with Kenny Hall or his music there is a wonderful documentary of his life called “I Hear What You See: The Old Time World of Kenny Hall” by Chris Simon. You can see an excerpt of her film here.
A couple of friends and I paid a visit to (made a pilgramage to) Burl Hammons in West Virginia in 1973. Alan Jabbour gave us directions to his house in Stillwell Hollow where he lived in Pocahontas County. It was the dead of winter that year when we were welcomed by Burl, Maggie, and Sherman Hammons. I can honestly say that my fiddling took a turn from that meeting.
The etching of Burl Hammons comes from a photo made by Carl Fleischhauer. Carl Fleischhauer and Alan Jabbour co-authored the rare, but still available, study titled “The Hammons Family: The Traditions of a West Virginia Family and their Friends.” Carl is an amazing photographer and folklorist working for the Library of Congress. The book is well worth the read and the music on the CD has inspired and informed my fiddling for over 45 years.
During that same trip in the winter of 1973 we followed up our visit to Burl Hammons with an unforgettable stop at the home of Tommy Jarrell. Tommy also welcomed us, fed and watered us, and taught us more about American traditional fiddling in a few days than we could ever learn from book or record in the next decade.
The spring weather in our area is giving us glorious days. Our back yard is in bloom with flowers, blossoms, doves, quail, song-birds, and hummingbirds joining us each day for our fiddle and guitar tunes on the deck in late afternoon.
Rowboat. I made up and rearranged this tune about 20 years ago. It almost always seems appropriate, but now more than ever. We had some fun with it on our April 1st deck-time tunes.
Local streets seem deserted and the earth is quiet. The pace of life is slower. Most people are keeping their distance. Sheltering in place is mandatory.
Despite homo sapien’s current health delima, nature continues to show it’s spring growth. Colors are vibrant, the air is clean, sounds are more natural. New growth, and new learning, are the order of the day. Because of social distancing, I can’t embrace my neighbors, or even my grandkids, but I can embrace this glorious spring day!
I went for a walk yesterday. The sunshine was warm and the fresh air was invigorating. I enjoyed seeing the green grass and the blossoming trees. Homeowners can’t help but notice that the hard work of designing their landscape plan and completing the garden labor is paying off.
I walked along, enjoying the local gardens, until I came to a steep road that seemed to head up to a ridge top, far above me.
I decided to try the challenge, hoping that I might achieve my daily goal of clocking 10,000 steps. I had to stop a couple times to rest, but I made it to the top. The views of Mt. Diablo between the houses were wonderful. After a breather, I turned around, facing the other direction, to walk back down the road. I took a few steps and came across this beautiful signpost…
May you float gently down the stream, and may you step merrily along the path.