Saturday, October 20, 2007

Sunday Concert: For Gary

About forty years ago I met Gary Smith and his buddy (soon mine too) Richard Ware through the "World's Largest Coffee House", Prometheus Unbound, that Mike Burton established in the huge deserted waterworks building on Jackson Hill in Rome, Georgia. We really only used a corner of it. Standing in front of burlap hung walls and sculpture by Mike, McLean Marshall and other local artists and at a single microphone, Gary and Richard and Mike's brother Cleve and Tony Baker and [I'll think of the name soon] Williams and I and several others sang folk songs to small groups of family and friends and other folk music fans.

Blurry Terrell (Left) - can you believe that skinny kid was me! - and Cleve (right) singing at Prometheus Unbound.

Cleve (Left) and Tony Baker (right) singing at Prometheus Unbound. Notice the paintings on the burlap covered walls and the candles in wax coated bottles on the burlap covered tables. Sorry about the big green, forty-year-old fingerprint. It's probably mine.

Tony Baker singing at Prometheus Unbound. The sculpture is the work of the late McLean Marshall, noted Rome sculptor, who was a patron for the Rome Art League which sponsored the coffeehouse.

Later the coffeehouse was moved to a little building across the street from the Confederate monuments at the base of Myrtle Hill. Somewhere I have a little reel-to-reel tape of the singing there. I wonder if it would still play and where I could find a working tape player to try it out.

After Sheila and I married and moved back to Rome we began to gather at Mike's homeplace on Booger Hollow Road or Carolyn's daddy's farm overlooking Cedar Creek, or our log cabin on Lake Creek for occasional hootenannies. (I regret that I have so few pictures from our hoots. Sheila and I are both singers and spend all our hoot time singing (and eating) and rarely take a pic. If any of you have hoot pics to share, I'd love to see them and maybe copy them.)

Gary was almost always there joining in the singing.

As life has intervened with births and deaths and moves and divorces and tumors and second marriages and grandchildren, a constant in our lives has been these wonderful minglings of old friends and new, and beloved music once or twice a year. Nowadays they are usually at the "new" Burton farm (since the late seventies) or here on the banks of the Oostanaula.

We sing...
"Ain't No More Cane on This Brazos"
"500 Miles"
"Banks of the Ohio"
"The Farmer's Cursed Wife"
"If I Had My Way"
Aside: Once with a big crowd gathered in the gigantic room Mike built (probably primarily for Hoots) all of us devoting heart, soul, and lung-power to "If I Had My Way" and Richard fairly abusing that guitar, we came to the climactic line "...I would tearrrrrrrr thisssssss builllllllldingggggggggggggg downnnnnnnnnn!!" the floor dropped six inches! (Mike's carpentry has improved since.)
"Polly Von"
"Jesus Met the Woman"
"The Day They Drove Old Dixie Down"
"Man of Constant Sorrow"

And usually, the very first song, in the beautiful, mournful, three part harmony style of Peter, Paul, and Mary, was "The Cruel War"

There will be something important missing from our Hootenannies from now on. Gary is gone. He died suddenly one week ago today, two months shy of sixty. Too soon. Too soon.

The cursed kidney stone kept me from seeing Gary's children and Pat at the visitation or joining his other friends at his funeral. I love my Sheila all the more for her traveling to Roswell with Richard and Teresa, and relaying my love and concern to Gary's family.

I will miss this gentle friend and his gregarious, cheerful, soul.

Gary, this is for you.

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