Best wishes to you for a joyous 4th of July.
Monday the 4th is the first night of the Manchester carnival sponsored by the Manchester Volunteer Fire Company. (for their schedule of events - click here)
Common Ground on the Hill Festival in Westminster also begins this week with the first "Traditions Week" on July 3 and the music festival during the weekend of July 9 & 10 (for their schedule of events - click here)
I reference both events in my column for the Northern News this week which is posted below:
Missing Jim & Jesse
Pardon me - but I think you're the one love,
That I've been waiting on for so long
Pardon me - could we walk in the moonlight
Just to see, dear, if I'm right or wrong?
One of the advantages to growing up on York Street in Manchester was the fact that during one week of each summer our neighborhood became the center of music and social activity for the community. The event sponsored by the Manchester Volunteer Fire Company is called a "carnival," but in a more upscale community it would have been called the Manchester Summer Music Festival.
On many summer nights as a youngster, I laid in bed next to an open window (we had no air conditioning - of course) and listened to the twangy sounds of country and bluegrass music lofting down York Street from the bandstand of the carnival grounds.
I'll never love anybody but you, baby, baby,
I'll never love anybody but you - If you'll be my girl.
Ohhh, yes - believe me, it's true.
Ohhh, yes - I'll love nobody but you!
One of my greatest moments as an amateur photographer occurred the summer after I got my Kodak Hawkeye Brownie Flashfun camera as a Christmas gift. Minnie Pearl from the Grand Ole Opry was the headliner at the Firemen's Carnival.
I was a short, skinny, 11-year-old trying to get some photographs from somewhere in the crowd when the master of ceremonies for the evening, Woody Lippy, grabbed me and put me up on the stage. I stood right next to Minnie Pearl trying to focus the camera on the price tag swinging on a string from her "new" hat as the audience howled at her corn-pone jokes.
You are the one; you're the one in my heart,
You're my darling, my life's greatest thrill,
You are the one in my heart
And I know that I love you and I always will.
In the 1960s, it was typical to have several stars of Nashville attend the Manchester carnival. The country music stars spent the summers on buses traveling to firemen's carnivals and country fairs to perform and meet their fans.
That may seem hard to believe - but of course this was a time before eight-track tapes, Hee-Haw (the television show), cassette tapes, music videos, muzak, MP3 players, I-pods, satellite radio, I-tunes and the many modern electronic media of music that propels an almost incessant cacophony of sounds in today's society.
There's an old ramshackle shack, where in dreams I wander back,
And listen to those Southern melodies.
Twas a place where I was born, on a bright October morn,
And it's nestled at the end of my River of Memories.
About the same time that Minnie Pearl appeared in Manchester, the fire company engaged Jim & Jesse and the Virginia Boys. Year-in and year-out, you could count on Jim & Jesse performing at the carnival - in recent years it was always on Thursday night. They became the carnival's most famous long-standing act.
In Manchester, they had a faithful and loyal following. On Thursday afternoons, fans would start setting up their lawn chairs about noon in order to have the best seats for the Jim & Jesse show. Several hundred people would pack the lawn in front of the bandstand to hear their brand of Appalachian Mountain bluegrass.
Born in the village of Coeburn in southwestern Virginia, Jim and Jesse McReynolds started their professional career in 1947. Jim played the guitar and Jesse played the mandolin. Both left the band to serve in the military but by 1961 they were playing at the Grand Ole Opry and over the years became legends in bluegrass music.
Jim died of cancer in 2002 and the band returned to Manchester a few more years with Jesse's grandson, Luke McKnight, on guitar. At their last concert for the fire company, they claimed to have played at the Manchester carnival annually for over 45 consecutive years.
Jesse is known for developing a style of mandolin playing called "cross-picking." Although they no longer play at the Manchester carnival, Jesse will be featured at the Common Ground on the Hill Festival at a 5:00 p.m. concert in Westminster on July 10.
Are you waiting just for me?
With your promise to be true?
Always in your memory -
Let me whisper, "I love you!"
In addition to my favorite love songs (excerpts printed herewith), Jim & Jesse offered a variety of bluegrass and spirituals. I feel like I should add Tennessee (Tennessee Lonesome Blues) and West Virginia (Smokey Mountain, W.V.) to my bucket list cause "it's a place I long to be . . . where my darlin' waits for me." There are many loves lost because of the "Hard-Hearted Heart Breaker" or "Have you lost all the love you have for me?" but in the end, "They Can't Love Jesus More Than Me!"
I don't have to go to bed as early as when I was a kid. So now, I can walk on the carnival grounds holding hands with my wife, Susie (the one love that I've been waitin on for so long), watching Iron Ridge or the Grass Valley Outlaws or David Davis and the Warrior River Boys on the bandstand.
Or I can sit on our back porch with Susie (and whisper "I love you!") and hear the melodies wafting down York Street from Aspen Run or Dean Crawford and Dunn's River Band. (Or for a change of pace, the hometown favorites - Bootleg).
Still I have to admit to missing Jim & Jesse. For many years they helped me seranade Susie (my one love, my darling, my life's greatest thrill). We still enjoy the Manchester carnival - but it just ain't the same without Jim & Jesse.
Article by Joe Getty published in the Northern News, June 30, 2011.