MASCF 2013 ~ How to Shuck an Oyster


Video from the Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival
Clips from Friday and Saturday.

Back when the Depression hit (the one in the ’30s) my grandfather, my dad’s dad, hitched a mule and plow to a fence post in a field in Arkansas. He walked into the road, thumbed a ride with a trucker, and left home and never went back. According to his brothers, this made his father – who was known across three counties for epic rages – mad as hell.

Besides lying about his age to get into the army, among other things, he believed he could scrape together a living if he could play music. He taught himself to play fiddle and started a band. They travelled all over the country playing dance halls and pasture parties full of Oakies and other desperate displaced persons. When he noticed saxophone players were getting better-paying gigs, he taught himself sax and learned to swing. There was a faded black and white photo of him on the wall in the house, wearing a suit and a skinny tie on some stage in a barn in the mid-west, a framed playbill next to it.

By the time I was 12, he’d forgotten how to play most of the songs from those years, and most of the guys who knew them had died.That didn’t stop him and some local buddies from trying, though, after a they’d had a few beers. Eventually, there were only about four songs they could play drunk with a fiddle, a guitar, and a gut bucket. Sitting up with them late at night I learned them all.

“Goodnight Irene” was one of them.


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