Whitesburg KY
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Shape note singers sound so beautiful



Hello everyone! This morning it almost feels like a fall morning, and there’s a bit of fog hanging over the valley.

Mornings like this I wish I didn’t have anything I have to do, as I wouldn’t move from the back deck after my son Keith Ballard leaves for work.

I’m almost too tired and hurting too bad to try to write anything this week, but once again I listened to my heart and not my brain.

Vanessa Adams shares beautiful scenes of the mountains and it is like they are beckoning to me.

I’m still hurting deeply for not being able to attend the Osborne Brothers festival at Hyden last week. I talked to a several that attended and Sunrise Ridge did an awesome show. That is no surprise as each time I have the pleasure to hear them, the band always sounds wonderful. As I said I also have another favorite band that performed Larry Efaw & Bluegrass Mountaineers. However I have come to the realization of one thing, I could not have managed sitting all day, as it would have been too uncomfortable.

All this week I have played with the idea of trying to make the trip to the mountains for the usual Friday night Campbell’s Branch Community Center event with Sunrise Ridge, then the Carcassonne Community Center square dance featuring Sunrise Ridge Band again.

I don’t have an addiction to drinking nor drugs, but there’s something that has gotten deep in my soul when it comes to these two events and the Sunrise Ridge Band. Not only that, I find myself drawn back to the little place of Roxana more often. As I drive past Denny Amburgey’s store, I wish someone could open that up, although I realize a small store is no competition to the bigger stores.

Thursday afternoon, I let my heart and good foot over rule my head as I gathered a few things to head for the mountains I still call home. This was a long, tiring drive, as I had to make frequent stops. I actually sat on a pillow to relieve pressure off my right leg, and that helped for quite some time.

When I arrived at the campus, I decided to take a shower, only to find that I left my hair spray, deodorant and two small hand towels on the bathroom vanity at home. Friday I stopped at Family Dollar to get the things I needed. I did stop by the place in Isom to get a magazine. Jaylean Lynch, it was nice seeing you again, and belated happy birthday wishes.

I spent most of the day in my room, lying on the bed with my foot elevated, and then went to Campbell’s Branch Community Center.

Cuma Jean was working, and as always it is great to see her. She goes by Jean, but she is still Cuma Jean to me. This woman never ages, and is so beautiful. Cuma Jean is someone I remember since I was very young. I just wish we had a little more time to spend together.

Now back to what I had started to write about.

There were signs everywhere along Rt. 7 about shape note singing. Now I had met Ben Fink a few years ago, and I knew he was connected to Appalshop and something called shape note singing.

There were several staying at the Calvary Campus, and of course being inquisitive I talked to a couple of women. I found out they were performing at Hemphill Community Center, and I was invited to go. I replied laughing and declined as I said I was going to Campbell’s Branch Community Center, that wild horses couldn’t drag me away.

It was great to see the door open. Larry came pushing Doris Adams in a wheelchair to enjoy the music. A special treat when I discovered the young man sitting at the table with me was Shawn Stamper’s son, who graced the crowd with a couple of songs. Had the lights gone out, you could still have been able to see as pride that Shawn Stamper was feeling made his face glow.

Saturday morning, the shape note singers performed at the dining hall on the campus, which was a short distance to the dorm. I parked as close as I could get, but the steps were something I wasn’t expecting. I made it very carefully and the sound was beautiful when I opened the door.

After I was there a few minutes I realized I was the only observer in the room. So I asked someone if I was intruding. A woman from New York came to sit beside me for a brief time, and she was such a wonderful person. During a five-minute break, someone was going towards a door and looked my way then recognized me about the same time that I recognized him.

Ray Rechenberg is from the Hamilton or Cincinnati area. We met approximately five or six years ago. The last time I saw Ray we attended a concert with Ma Crow & the Lady Slippers and other bands promoting the movie Mountain Minor produced by Dale Farmer from Camden, Oh.

I tried to get Ray interested in more bluegrass events, and Ray said he was getting interested in something called shape note singing. I didn’t understand, and too be honest still don’t, but I did enjoy listening. Ray and his friend stayed at Malcolm and Amy Wilson’s cottage they have for rent.

There were 51 shape note singers, and 13 states were represented along with three countries, Sweden, Finland, and the U.S.A., of course the most important is our great country. Had I known all this I would not have left until I got loads of information. Ray, thanks for helping me down the steps.

The meal was being served as I was leaving, and I was invited to stay which I declined. I made a remark to Joy Adams who was on kitchen duty, about how delicious the chicken looked. Joy came hallway down the steps to bring me a piece of chicken. She didn’t know I had trouble digesting food.

Yes I ate it, and later I found out where the chicken was from, as it was the most beautiful chicken I’ve seen in years. IGA in Isom fried it. It was fried to perfection, not burned so hard, and not dry. If only I was able to really enjoy I would be going to IGA for another piece or two or three.

Saturday night, several of the singers attended Carcassonne Community Center for an evening of dancing and fun. The place was full and I mean dancing was enjoyed while I sat watching and imaging, as everyone was having so much fun.

Now I had a great surprise as someone spoke to me, I knew her face couldn’t think of her name. It was Marcia Caudill’s sister, Janie Caudill Klamerus. Janie always looked so beautiful on Facebook and is the same in real form. Janie has the same qualities as Marcia through her face and eyes. Marcia was so busy I didn’t get to spend time with her. Mike Caudill and Janie danced one set together. I missed Mike and Marcia at Campbell’s branch.

Please keep the Campbell family in your prayers, as Fred and T’s dad is very ill with his heart. He is in Hazard Hospital.

Buddy Grubbs, who has the Veterans Memorial in Whitesburg, has so much wrong with him. He finally got out of Whitesburg Hospital and is in the UK hospital. Please remember Buddy and Bernice Grubbs in your prayers.

Sunday morning, I was planning on getting in the shower very early, as the floor was so crowded and I knew the group had a schedule. As I was entering the bathroom a woman walked out and so help me we started a conversation. Virginia lives in Alabama and she is originally from Berea.

We really had a good talk, and my shower was put on hold until most of the group left then I got in the shower. I packed my things, put them on the stair landing, and backed my car close to the opening.

As I looked out my backup camera, a woman was standing next to the post of the little bridge. I was hoping she would move, as I was afraid she would step and I would hit her.

To my surprise it was Nan from New York. She didn’t go with the group and as soon as she saw me getting ready to leave, she carried my things down the steps and helped me get everything placed in the car. We started talking about the experience of the road to the Carcassonne Community Center. Nan rode with another couple that was European. She offered to drive, and I believed she wished she had driven her own car.

I will say one thing; this was the most miserable trip off the mountain for me. The Honda Fit has the worst headlights that I’ve ever seen in any car, you can’t see 15 feet in front of you when you are driving on dim.

There was a car in front of me so I couldn’t drive with the bright lights on, and the car behind me was blinding me. I expected any moment to go over the mountain.

I am going to take it back to the dealer and tell them. I know it won’t do any good. I am serious, it is a danger, but I must say except for that I do like it.

Johnny and Ann Calihan are doing sort of good, except Ann’s leg is a mess. Ann has diabetes and wounds don’t heal easily. I get so disgusted with doctors when it seems all they want is a dollar, and it seems nothing is being done that helps.

I will try to catch up with Pat and Les Wagner in a few days. I hope Pat is feeling better.

It seems I made a mistake. We have always had Letcher County Picnic on the third weekend of September, which will be Sept. 21. I will try to get it in The Mountain Eagle next week.

My foot and arm are saying enough, so until next time, Rose Ballard, 9110 Lawrenceburg Rd., Harrison, Ohio 45030, email: Bluegrassmama4@aol.com.

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