Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Goin' to Starvy Creek

the stage at the Starvy Creek Bluegrass festival

Goin’ to Starvy Creek

Bluegrass music, mountain music or hillbilly music. Whatever it’s called, it has always held a wonderful fascination for me. From the doghouse bass to the fiddle, the blend of acoustic instruments stirs my blood and gets my toes tappin’ and my hands clappin’.

When I was a youngin’, folks would gather on the weekend; bringing their guitars, banjos and fiddles or mandolins. We would eat, visit and make music. Mostly we would play and sing from the church hymn book. However, our neighbor Dick Stanger had a three-ring notebook full of songs. He had written them all out by hand and included the guitar chords. There were a lot of old-timey songs in that notebook along with about every song Hank Williams Sr. ever recorded.

I had me a Silvertone guitar from Sears & Roebuck. Dick would help me tune the thing and he showed me a few chords. What fun times those were.

Over the years, my musical adventures have taken different avenues but I’ve never strayed too far from my back-home roots. I have made a living playing music, singing and entertainin’ folks.

And while it seems most of the music I’ve performed has been everything except mountain music, that very mountain music is what I think of when I think of relaxin’ and havin’ a good time.

Kenny and Amada Smith on stage

Now, having said all that, a few weeks ago, I found out State of the Ozarks would be going to a bluegrass festival. I really had no idea what to expect. The place we headed to was the Starvy Creek Festival near Conway, Missouri.

Joshua Heston, editor of State of the Ozarks, had been telling me of the thousands of folks at this event — and what a big deal it was. On the way out to the park, I was a bit skeptical. We were the only ones on the road (I had figured the traffic would be more like Branson). But as we rounded a corner on the appropriately named Bluegrass Road, Joshua said, “Now you ain‘t gonna believe what you’re about to see.” And boy, was he right!

As we topped a knoll, a sea of RV campers and trailers came into view — hundreds of them. Josh was right. I could hardly believe what I was seeing. Folks and music and food were everywhere, all centered around the main stage: a little cabin with a big front porch — settled low in a small ravine. Folks set up chairs all up and down that ravine. And there were thousands of them.

Group after group performed all day long. When evening came, the performances started all over again! Josh was busy taking pictures and talking to folks now and then. But he told me my job was to just enjoy the festival and I did! I just sat there and soaked up a wonderful experience!

One of the biggest highlights of that day was watching the group Nothin’ Fancy make their Starvy Creek debut. A lot of folks had never seen Nothin’ Fancy perform before that Friday but by the end of the day, just about everybody was talking about them.

Those fellas know how to entertain folks. When they received their first standing ovation, I couldn’t help but tear up a little for them.
The music on that stage wasn’t the only music happening! No sir! I went wanderin’ to stretch my legs. I strolled through the RV village and came upon several groups of folks jammin’ just like we had when I was a kid! It was hillbilly heaven.

I decided right then and there this wouldn’t be the last time I came to one of these events. Josh and I were both invited to sit in on a late-night jam session by the good folks of Iron Mountain, a new band from Salem, Missouri. Time and weariness didn’t allow for that, but next time I surely hope to get out my mandolin and join in.

It was nearing midnight and the chill of the evening had set in. We bagged up our chairs and headed home. You might say I was tuckered out but ready to do it all over again. I’ll be there next year and hope to see you there too.

’Till next month,

Elias Tucker
October 11, 2009

To explore the Ozarks visit: The State of the Ozarks

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