Blue Ridge Parkway south from Floyd County

 Another shot from the parkway in 2004. The family had not yet learned what Dad with a new camera was like…It didn’t take long for them to figure it out. We stopped more places than they cared to stop so I could try for a few new shots. All of these were taken with a film camera not digital, and scanned when developed to make jpgs. Posted by Picasa

The Vault Radio

About Vault Radio

Bill Graham and his concert promotion company, Bill Graham Presents, produced more than 35,000 concerts all over the world. His first venue, the legendary Fillmore Auditorium, was home to many of rock’s greatest performers – Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, The Doors, The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye, Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Prince – and the list goes on and on.

Graham taped thousands of live performances and stored the tapes in the basement of the BGP headquarters. These tapes and the concerts they captured lay dormant until the Bill Graham archive was acquired by Wolfgang’s Vault (Bill Graham’s given first name was Wolfgang) in 2003.

Vault Radio is now playing selected tracks from these concerts in an FM-quality, 128K digital radio stream. Songs will be added to and removed from the radio show on a regular basis.

For everyone who grew up in the ’60’s and the 70’s this online radio station is a blast from the past. If you haven’t checked out the Vault you should. Live music recorded in all of the famous and never heard locations (at least for this Texas teenager of the time). I must admit a lot f the groups have fallen of the memory chips in my head in the last 30+ years, but it doesn’t take much to pull them right back. If you have some time to kill, check out the posters and photo’s they have in the archives.

My musical tastes have changed greatly since those days, so I don’t take the Vault in any great time segments. Most people who hear what plays in my office all day at work are amazed at the eclectic mix that pours from my computers speakers…jazz, rock, celtic, country, new age, hip-hop, blues, classical, you name it with more and more bluegrass. I generally play everything through Winamp with the shuffle option on, so you really never know what might come out.

The Drive from Floyd, June 2004

 Two years ago we spent a week in Watauga County, south of Valle Crucis on Nettles Knob. On of the day trips we took up to Mabry’s Mill. On the drive back we took the Parkway the whole way, stopping along the way as things caught our interest. This was one of those stops. I look forward to the return trip this year. Now that I know more of the area and it citizens, the trip will mean more.

I spent most of the day yesterday hooking up our new DSL to our home network kludge we live with. Replacing the old dial-up has been on the “to-do” list for a while and ATT finally made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. I wasn’t able to get online till late (after a nice long session with Chris at ATT/Yahoo High Speed Internet…Thanks Chris). Today the whole family has been pushing the limits trying to stream different media at once. So far there have only been a few dropped streams…Life is good.

As I sit here, wireless and online for the first time since we found ourselves with a home network, writing my blog and listening to WNCW’s “Goin’ Across The Mountain”, I can almost feel the mountain breeze a blowin’. From the streaming radio though it sounds like the breeze is more of a storm in southwestern North Carolina, southeastern Tennessee and western South Carolina…

I want to thank those of you who have stopped by and left comments, the kind words of encouragement are appreciated. I am still trying to get a handle on what I feel it is I am being drawn to do on this site, so bear with me if you would.

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Rebecca Blood: Bloggers On Blogging

Thanks to Fred for the link, great articles all. I was especially atracted to what David Weinberger had to say about community among bloggers:

David Weinberger, January 2006 :: Rebecca Blood: Bloggers On Blogging: “For me, a community is a group of people who care about one another more than they have to. I do feel part of an ever-changing community of bloggers and readers. That’s not to say that everyone who ever glanced at my blog is part of that community. But there are people I’ve come to know over the years either through their blog or through their comments on my blog. Some of them mean a lot to me. And this is not a binary club that you’re either in or out of. It’s far smudgier than that, as it should be. There are blogs I read that I feel emotionally attached to written by bloggers I don’t know personally but about whom I’ve come to care. I’m more than a reader of them but less than a community member. It’s an extension of the attachment we feel to favorite printosphere writers, but the blogging world is more intimate and less guarded.”

All of the interviews on Rebecca’s site were very informative. As a recent discoverer of “place blogging”, I was particularly interested in Fred’s own insights into what and why he began and then continued Fragments.

Fred First, May 2006 :: Rebecca Blood: Bloggers On Blogging“In the first year, a good bit of my writing came from a desire to simply tell my story to myself, to re-examine my roots, in a sense. I found that my kids had heard but not remembered my yarns and blarney about my childhood, the snake stories from my college biology years and so on. Just before I began blogging, my grandmother died, and I realized I never knew her stories. I wanted my family to have some of mine, so there was that motivation.”

I find that like Fred’s children, I listened to the stories my own Dad had to tell as I was growing up. It was only after he died that I began to really wish I had spent more time listening so I could pass “his-story” on to my kids…It was that which really started me to researching my/our family history. That researh led eventually to my discovery of the Carolina mountains I dream about, and to Fragments From Floyd and the community of bloggers that have grown up in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

I think what first attracted me to Fragments, Blue Ridge blog, No Direction Home and the rest was the photos. I have a long history with photography as a hobby and loved the images of the mountains. It was only after a few visits that the words started meaning as much as the images. Now, I find myself wanting to emulate these folks with their mountain lifestyle and a whole world sitting on their front porch for the daily conversation…thanks to all of you for allowing me to hang out and enter the conversation.

Blue Ridge blog

Blue Ridge blog: “I walked along the Watauga River this morning before heading to work. I think I was trespassing, but only the birds noticed. This is the view of the Mast Farm Inn from the river. Actually this is the barn and the grainery. Forget cereal. This is the way to start your day…”

I wish I could show Marie’s photo…since I can’t you’ll have to follow the link yourself. I have to agree about a walk along the river being the way to start the day…The play of light on the farm is gorgeous.

Valle Crucis…my dreams continue to return there. I can’t wait to return for a week again this summer. Mornings on the porch with a cup of coffee looking out over Clarks Creek…hikes up the knob…days that don’t try to steam you until you’re cooked.

This year we are planning our trip to coincide with the Highland Games on Grandfather Mountain. Seems my wife really wants to experience the reality of the Scottish Culture, and to think I’m the one with the Scottish ancestry…I am really going to have to try and swing by the old home place out of Vilas, though after a couple of hundred years it might be a little hard to find. At least I should be able to cruise the creek they named after the family before most of them headed over the mountains into Tennessee. Great-great-great grandpa James Linville was born there on the 15th of July in 1794. Shortly after the turn of the century his family had migrated on over the mountains and he lived most of his life in north western Missouri where he died in 1873.

Why the National Guard?

From The Washington Post Editorial, May 17, 2006

“Why the National Guard?: “Disingenuously, Mr. Bush declared in his address that ‘we have enough Guard forces to win the war on terror, to respond to natural disasters and to help secure our border.’ That may be true in strictly numerical terms. But the president neglected to mention that the tens of thousands of Guard troops who will be rotated to the border over the next year will do so during their annual two- to three-week training periods. In other words, they will be deprived of time to train for war missions or natural disasters in order to drive trucks and staff desks for the Border Patrol.

Administration officials say the deployment is designed to provide such auxiliary services until civilian contractors can be brought in…”

The emphasis in the above is mine but I think it is telling that our CEO President is again moving government services to the private sector. Maybe it is only poetic that in all likelihood these civilian contractors will not be able to find any “American Workers” willing to apply for the jobs at the pay scale they will be willing to pay in order to guarantee the profits of the CEO’s. Which explains the “Guest Worker” plan, who else will we be putting on the border to protect us? Wouldn’t it just be easier to hire the Mexican Army to work the other side for us? We could call it foreign aide…

I find this reliance on “civilian contractor” very troubling in all of its various guises. Why do we now pay a company to do what we used to pay citizens to do? Call me a bleeding heart liberal, but I find it very hard to trust the good intentions of a corporate board. And I have yet to meet a Corporate Citizen with an inherent morality. And the fact that the courts wish to guarantee Corporate Free Speech while the “elected” officials take this very same “speech” to the bank is ruinous to the “common good”.

"Slow Road Home" by Fred First

Fragments From Floyd was one of the first blogs I discovered when I went googleing on the phrase “Blue Ridge Mountains” (actually Marie Freeman’s “Blue Ridge blog” was the first site I hit and it was her links list I was following to Fred’s). Fred’s writing spoke to me and when he starting blogging about the book project I was intrigued. When he made the pre-production order offer I jumped for it.

As you can see from the photo, I have been having a time warping experience of it. Reading both the book and the “Fragments From Floyd” archives. Moving forward on one “slow road” as I move backwards on the other, makes for an interesting if warped sense of time and place.

I highly recommend the book as a great read of the sort I haven’t read in years. And having the ability to follow the evolution of Fred’s style as he explored his muse in public on Fragments only adds to the enjoyment of the book.

Mail Pouch Tobacco – Indiana

“Enjoy some history about Mail Pouch Barns: “Mail Pouch Tobacco” means bright yellow letters on a barn whose red planks have weathered to dark brown against an Appalachian hillside. In the 1870’s the Bloch Brothers, whose name appears on the sign’s masthead, had a small side business rolling stogies in Wheeling. At some point, they began bagging flavored stogie wrapper clippings as “scrap”, or chewing tobacco, and sold them under the names of the stores who handled their product. Soon the brothers launched their own brand, “West Virginia Mail Pouch Tobacco”. Although it is not specifically mentioned in the company’s 75th anniversary history, for a time the product was also promoted for smoking.”

I found this barn in southern Indiana a few years back. Something about the photo keeps calling me back. It lived as my wallpaper for a while after I took the picture and I keep printing it for different reasons. It was early spring and the light was washed out. The trees were just starting to leave out and the daffodils were blooming all over the countryside. The above paragraph is from the Greene County Pennsylvania Tourism website and they have a bit more to say about the history of the barns, so check it out. My photo has had a bit of Photoshop magic applied… Posted by Picasa

Google Earth

This is the view of North Carolina that I am dreaming over…Looking north over Boone into Virginia with Mt. Rogers on the horizon.

I can waste more time playing with Google Earth…They shouldn’t put programs like this in the hands of a mapaholic. The only problem I have is, why, with the latest photo update is this part of NC (and only this part) covered with clouds? Have I been using up too much bandwidth guys? I appreciate the higher resolution in the sat photo’s, but higher resolution of clouds is still clouds…

Oh well, If you don’t have Google Earth, get it…it will even work (slowly) on dial up.

North Carolina

A few months back I heard a singer-songwriter on a segment of NPR. His name was Jon Randall and he was one of the two writers (Bill Anderson was the other) of “Whiskey Lullaby” sung by Brad Paisley and Allison Krauss. He has a CD out and one of the songs I like a lot is North Carolina Moon. Check out the lyrics…

North Carolina Moon

I woke up this morning to the humming of the engines
Hauling nature’s finest from the Gulf of Mexico
Ridin’ this ol’ river is peaceful but it’s lonesome
It makes wonder how the old folks are at home
(chorus)
Now the years have blown by me like
the wind through the pines
But the song of the south is ever sweet
as homemade wine
Oh how I miss those mountains when the
Laurels are in bloom
And the southern stars are dancin’
’round a North Carolina moon

Just rolled through Memphis I could
hear them guitar’s a playing
They had the blues so bad it almost broke my heart
Don’t sound nothing like a band of tree frogs singing
When every now and then they’d get in tune
with grandpa’s harp
(repeat chorus)
When I die boys make me this promise
You’ll send my body back up North Carolina way
I don’t want no tombstone just lay me next to mama
And let the honeysuckle grow wild upon my grave
(repeat chorus)
(JON RANDALL, RONNIE STEWART)

Go ahead and follow the link above, there are a number of good songs on his CD…

For a great article on Mountain Laurel, see this (The Sweet Mountain Laurel of Spring) in the Blue Ridge Gazette.