Last month Bruce and I had the opportunity to get together with one of those old friends I’ve become reacquainted with through Facebook. Ruth lived near me in high school, often drove my brother and me (and another neighbor kid) to school in her beige square-back Volkswagen, and always carried her flute or piccolo along. Little did I know that she majored in classical music at the University of Tennessee and that now she and her husband, Keith, have chosen to center their lives on the traditional music of their ancestors in East Tennessee. Their duo is called Boogertown Gap, after a local place of Keith’s childhood, and they perform old-time mountain music in the area and beyond. (The above video is more wonderful but longish, so here‘s an excerpt if you just want a taste.)
Although they have chosen to honor tradition in their lives, however, they are full participants in the 21st century, and I met up with Ruth again via Facebook a year or so ago.
Last month, they came to Central Florida to visit friends and attend a conference, and they invited us to join them one night for some playing and singing. I hadn’t seen Ruthie (she’s still Ruthie to me, though I’m trying to adjust) in close to 30 years. But when she opened the door, she still looked just like herself, and we met Keith and the other friends, and soon music was in the air.
Bruce had brought along his electric bass, and although it wasn’t a natural fit to accompany the guitars, the fiddle, the banjo, and the recorder, everyone welcomed it, and off the musical types went. (If you know me, you know I just watched and listened and tapped my toes on the floor.) Soon enough, Ruth had Bruce playing the spoons. You can see here how good she is at teaching the spoons.
It was a lovely evening, and the toe-tapping music brought everyone together beautifully. We hope to see Ruth and Keith again sometime.