It’s kind of a long story, but I ended up staying another week with Polo and Nadine after the Old-Time Weekend in Bécours. Their band, Ida Red, invited me to record about 6 tunes with them on their new CD. Of course, I was honored. All three of them are grand musicians and it was the perfect chance for me to sit down and really learn some of Polo’s crazy, very-old-sounding fiddle tunes.
(For those of you Asheville, Old-Time Music folks out there, Ida Red also included their dear friends Meredith McIntosh and John Herrmann when they were passing through France.)
So, we packed it up and drove back to Ardèche. It was good to be back.
And practiced…And busked at the market on Saturday morning…I think we made about 12 Euros each…
Then, we drove to the middle of no where (a beautiful place)…
Smack dab in the middle of my “travel break” with Clara, landed an amazing thing; an Old-Time music weekend. For those of you who don’t know, Old-Time music is the name for the traditional music coming from in and around the Appalachian Mountains in the U.S. of A.
It being a surprising and wonderful thing to find such a weekend way over here in France I really, really wanted to go. Once Clara assured me that she wouldn’t feel deserted, I bought a train ticket and embarked on yet another mini-journey within my grand journey.
However, it wasn’t as easy as that. Clara and I didn’t have a car and the cottage where we were staying was a 45 minute walk from the nearest town. The town had, not a train station, but a train stop. So, I woke at 6 a.m. and walked with a day bag, a water bottle and my banjo, down the road (I wish someone had been there to take a picture).
I caught the little train that ran through Champtocé to Angers where I caught another train to Orléans. Nadine had arranged for me to catch a ride there with people I had never met; Yves and Réjane. I recognized Yves immediately because he was the only one waiting for the train with a banjo on his back.
We drove for hours, talking all the way. We arrived to meet a whole gang of folks with instruments, sleeping bags for the dorm beds and lots of food and wine to share.
Everyone was curious about the American girl who really, truly came from North Carolina. Then, amazingly enough, another American girl and great fiddler, named Anne, arrived. I taught some clogging steps and she called a few square dances.
(Anne and I also discovered that, not only are we teaching during the same week at Augusta Heritage Center in August, but she is also the musician for my clogging workshop at Pinewoods in Massachusetts. How crazy is that!)
Everyone put their food in a large utility kitchen and shared the duties of cooking and cleaning. Polo got the big idea to make 40 wood-fired pizzas from scratch. It was alot of work, but they tasted soooo good.
Bécours is also the location for a boyscout/girl scout camp. A few of us went down and played them some tunes. I’m sure none of them had heard Appalachian Old-Time before.
Here is a short video of a brother and sister duo playing and singing the Lonesome Pine Special from the Carter Family. They are accompanying themselves with a piano accordion.
I’m just going to let the pictures speak for themselves.
“How did you take a bath?” you ask. Though they have an outdoor shower house with a nice view of the mountains it was still a little too cold to be wet and outside at the same time. So, a large kettle of water heated on the stove, a water basin, soap and a wash cloth were the answer. One night, I got to take a bath downstairs right next to the stove. It was wonderful!