I’ve driven over 150 miles to get to this place, so it had better be good. Of course, it is. It’s amazing, if a bit touristy. (I can’t complain, I’m a tourist too). I can’t say that I know a great deal about the bluegrass and gospel music, but I know enough to appreciate what’s happening.
Floyd is a little place, with one stop sign and a few shops. I don’t get to see much of it tonight, as I want to make sure I get a seat for the Friday Night Jamboree. I arrive to find it filling up nicely, and just about to start at 6.15 pm. It costs me $4.00 to get in. Wow! It’s filled to capacity (275, it says on the fire notice) by the time the show gets under way.
The MC welcomes everyone, and before the first band, he invites someone to come and open in prayer! Hey, that’s a first. A concert with an opening prayer. I feel as though I am back in my childhood as he opens his prayer with the words “Almighty God, our heavenly Father ..” What a wonderful way to kick things off. He prays for the bands that are to play, for safe travel, and for those of us visiting tonight.
We get an hour of gospel songs (I’ll fly away, Keep on the sunny side etc), which is a good start, but things really get into gear when the second band come on at 7.30. I have already struck up a conversation with Jim and his wife, (I never did get her name) next to me, and she tells me it’s about to get interesting. As the Jugbusters are setting up, I can hear some loud clacking noises, as people walk past me towards the front. The sound comes from their shoes, which look to have bottle tops screwed into the soles, which make a mighty fine sound when they all start dancing.
As soon as the band start, the dance floor becomes a mass of gently undulating swaying bodies, accompanied by the click of their dancing shoes. There are all ages dancing, from little children to an older man with overalls, a long white beard and a wide brimmed hat. He is having a great time, and is even happy to stop when a tourist wants to take a photo of him. Some of the older men (I guess in their 70’s) dancing have a kind of studied, slightly self conscious look on their face as they look into the middle distance. They are taking this seriously!
In the interval, we have a raffle, which makes me feel at home, but I don’t win. The MC has a prize for the person who has travelled the furthest to be there, and unfortunately, it’s not me. There are people from Ireland, Sweden, Holland, Mexico, New Zealand and Australia visiting, to name a few.
The last band is the Sigmon Stringers, a family band from North Carolina. The youngest is a 7 year old fiddle player. That was neat! At about 10.15 pm, after they have played for an hour or so, the MC gets up and thanks everyone for coming … “You don’t need to rush off folks, we’ll be here for a while clearing up an’ all” The crowd drift off slowly into the night, and emerge from the country store to hear the sound of a banjo, guitar and fiddle being played by some young folks, sitting outside, just up the street.
More from Floyd tomorrow.