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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Private Lessons in Memphis and tramping through history

Crossing the river from Arkansas on I-55
Coming back to Memphis!

I have been so blessed by recent, regular opportunities to be in Memphis the past few years:  the Memphis Dulcimer Festival, the Folk Alliance, House Concerts and workshops, and this time, hosts Lee Cagle and Betty Dawson (who are a talented musical duo known as Butterfly Gap) decided to offer two days of private mountain and hammered dulcimer and guitar lessons to area students.

The Dawson B&B & Lesson Studio
This was an innovative idea for my touring schedule and one that I thoroughly enjoyed!

Playing a harmonic (In February's House Concert)

After lessons on Monday, we went to  McGuinness Pub and, after enjoying the fish and chips, enjoyed the first set of Planet Reel in a rolicking Irish Session-type listening gig.        
I arose on Tuesday and drove north of Memphis to some historical (at least for my Dad's side of the family) territory.  I've long known that my Dad's mother was born in Roellen, Tennessee and that she lived a portion of her life in Dyersburg, but I had never thought to look on a map to see where these places were.  I just assumed that they were in eastern Tennessee.  

This past February, just before coming to Memphis for the House Concert and workshops, I did what I hadn't done and was tickled to see that, unlike my expectations, these two locations from my ancestry (Maybe that's why I've had this "genetic" kind of connection with western Tennessee.)

In any case, I drove north, through Atoka County, home of Isaac Hayes  (I hear those high voices trill in my memory: “Shaft”) and am nearly bowled over as I cross not just one, but both the South and North forks of the Forked Deer River.  "Forked Deer" is the name of a traditional fiddle tune that my students learned and played for the Spring Recital this past May!

Dyersburg Historical Museum Parking Lot view
The Dyersburg Historical Museum was closed over the lunch hour, so I drove the few miles east until I saw what, to me, is a familiar sight:
Roellen, TN Watertower

The town watertower, painted sky blue, rises up in front of me, directly in front of my car as it travels toward town.  The road then bends northeast and in no time I'm out the other side of the town.

The resemblance to my hometown of Pemberville, Ohio, especially in this green, fertile time of the year, with humidity thickening the hot air, and the air heavy with the rich scents of hydrangeas, mimosa, corn and bean crops, almost causes me to time travel back to my younger days.

I have little time, so I follow the compass point south to Collierville and today's lessons, before Ilace and I go to Celtic Crossing, where the Guiness-based Irish Stew is scrumptious!

We are eating on the patio when Barry Bianchi recognizes me (I wrote about this meeting here).

The ensuing music session was memorable for the fun and the music, but not least because it was populated with (3) three (count'em) hammered dulcimers!

Ilace wrote to let me know weeks later that the evening was still being remembered fondly among the players.

With fondness, appreciation for creative connections and the chance to turn over some personal historical connections is how I remember and treasure this Memphis landing!