Blue Ridge Muse News, views and musings from Southwestern Virginia Thu, 24 Apr 2014 11:57:29 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Floyd’s musical heritage Sat, 19 Apr 2014 08:57:20 +0000

Music from the stage at The Friday Night Jamboree

Music from the stage at The Friday Night Jamboree

At various times in one’s life, a question on why we were put on this earth may arise.

I’ve pondered that question more than once over the years but, as a jockeyed around musicians, dancers and others at Floyd’s Friday Night Jamboree, the answer may be that my purpose in life may be to document the musical heritage that is so much a part of our community.

It’s hard to grow up in Floyd County without a strong connection to music — either as a musician, singer or friend/relative to those involved in the art.

As one who is tone deaf and possesses no musical talent whatsoever, I turned at an early age to capture the music culture that has long been an important part of the community.

Producing music or enjoying those who do are big parts of life in our area.  Hopefully, what I do captures that life in images, film and words.

Jamming at The Floyd Barbershop

Floyd County musician Andrea Marshall: Jamming at The Floyd Barbershop

Kathleen Boyd of Katie and the Bubbatones: A Montgomery County bluegrass group popular at The Friday Night Jamboree

Kathleen Boyd of Katie and the Bubbatones: A Montgomery County bluegrass group popular at The Friday Night Jamboree

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To tax or not to tax Sat, 12 Apr 2014 11:18:29 +0000

If speakers who have appeared at recent meetings of both the School Board and Board of Supervisors represent an accurate demographic of Floyd County, a tax increase is overwhelmingly favored to support increased needs of a new fiscal year budget that goes into effect on July 1.

Some supervisors, however, say comments from the constituents they represent run overwhelmingly against a tax increase.

Here at Blue Ridge Muse, emails run about 50 – 50 for and against paying more taxes to support budget increases primarily for the county school system, which currently accounts for about two-thirds of the $30 million plus budget.  Same for comments during breakfast at Blue Ridge Restaurant during the week.

So what really is the will of the voters?  Unknown at this point.  No formal public opinion polls exist on the question in Floyd County.  The last three county supervisors to lose re-election bids point to their votes in favor of previous tax increases as primary reasons for their defeat at the polls.

Perhaps the question should be put to voters in a referendum in an upcoming election.  That might gives voters a chance to say what they want at the ballot box.  That might also be dangerous because tax increases usually lose in public referendums, particularly in areas where conservatives dominate elections.

Most supervisors tell me a tax referendum would probably fail because Floyd County is, by and large, conservative.  They are probably correct about the right-wing makeup of the electorate.

The current Board of Supervisors is all Republican.  Among elected county officers, only Commonwealth’s Attorney Stephanie Shortt is not a card-carrying member of the GOP.  She runs as an independent.

Republicans dominate election results in Floyd County, even when the outcome goes the other way statewide.

For example, Barack Obama carried the state easily in the 2012 Presidential election but Mitt Romney finished at the top of the Presidential ballot easily in Floyd County.

Same for the governor’s race in 2014. Terry McAuliffe won Virginia but Ken Cuccinelli led the ballot locally.

Many years ago, President Richard Nixon used to talk about the “silent majority,” a part of the electorate he claimed was silent everywhere except the ballot box.

Nixon’s “silent majority” consisted mostly of older Americans — much like the bulk of the population of Floyd County.

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Kids saving our music Mon, 03 Mar 2014 11:15:31 +0000

A constant pleasure since my return in 2004 to the mountain home of my youth is documenting the music culture of Southwestern Virginia.

It’s also heartwarming to see traditional music played by young groups who are determined to keep the area’s heritage alive.

Two such groups are The Blackberries and Gravel Road.

I recently completed a compilation of music by The Blackberries for the group’s use and they were kind enough to let me also put the film up on my pages on Vimeo and here on Muse.

I don’t have as much footage of Gravel Road as I would like but was lucky enough to capture some footage of them during one of the Floyd Town Jubilee concerts last summer.

In the coming months, I hope to shoot more footage of both groups as well as others who do their part and more to keep the area music alive.

Give them a listen.

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‘Geographically Desirable’ Wed, 19 Feb 2014 18:50:48 +0000

In the half-century or so that I have spent covering news, my role has been more of a recorder of news — in words, photos and, more recently, video.

What I do is not creative but a reflection of what is going on in front of a camera lens.

So it was a chance of pace to shoot fill-in footage for the movie, Geographically Desirable, that was filmed partly in Floyd County last year.  Director Mike Kravinsky graciously asked me to shoot some scenes outside Oddfellas at night and for some footage shot in Floyd County over the last several years.

If any of it winds up in the final cut of the film, I will be listed somewhere in the credits as “additional footage by” or something along those lines.

A trailer for the romantic comedy, which Kravinsky also scripted, is out now and it looks like a funny and interesting film.  It is set to open in June of this year and is the second film in two years shot in the county (the other was the suspense thriller “House of Good and Evil”).

It was a pleasure to be asked to contribute and Mike and his cast and crew were an additional pleasure to meet and watch as they worked.

Jason Gallimore of Floyd is one of the producers of the movie.

Below is a short video clip I shot of the film’s crew while they worked in Floyd.

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Beauty in many tongues Tue, 04 Feb 2014 17:09:03 +0000

A sadness emerges when one reads the absurd and downright nasty comments aimed at Coca Cola for creating a commercial featuring people singing “America the Beautiful” in different languages.

Some rabid right-wing groups urge a boycott of the company for creating the commercial.

Why?  Are we not a nation founded by immigrants who came to this land to escape persecution in other countries?  Are we not the nation that once welcomed immigrants with open arms?

Sadly, some out there want to destroy that America and forget that we, for the most part, are descendents of immigrants.   My forefathers were mostly Scots, with a mixture of Seminole Indian and Black Irish.  Of that mix, only the Seminole can claim to be a “native American.”

So why the uproar?  Are we so desperate for reasons to feel superior to others?  Do we need to demonize others so much?

Yes, America can be beautiful.  It is a mixture of of many different people of different genders, different races and different origins that make us that way.

Too bad some can’t see that.

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A TV ad worth watching Thu, 30 Jan 2014 04:30:18 +0000

Budweiser’s ad for this year’s Super Bowl is already causing a lot of buzz on social networks and the web. It should.

It doesn’t say a damn thing about the product but it says a lot about the company.

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Wendell Berry Sun, 24 Nov 2013 12:27:06 +0000
A short video look at author-activist Wendell Berry’s appearances in Floyd on Friday.


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FCHS Homecoming Thu, 24 Oct 2013 12:26:07 +0000

I prepared a video for The Floyd Press web site this week on Floyd County High School’s homecoming game last Friday edited the second one above.

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On location Sun, 20 Oct 2013 16:18:10 +0000

A film look at the location shooting last week for the film, Geographically Desirable, a romantic comedy about a woman who finds that life in the country can possibly be more rewarding than a busy life in the city.

Set in Washington and Floyd, the movie shot on location on the streets, in Oddfellas Cantina, The Country Store and Dogtown during the week, providing a lot for passersby to look at and work for a crew of extras.

For me, a photographer who backed into film and video work late in life, shooting the film was both challenging and intimidating.  What was I doing around all these professionals in the business?

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Floyd Fridays Sat, 19 Oct 2013 15:10:19 +0000

Friday night is always a special night in Floyd because of the music.

Here, just for fun, is a short video of the music and dancing…and fun.

Filmed last weekend at the The Floyd Country Store, the Floyd Barber Shop and in town.  If you’re old enough, you might recognize the music.  It’s Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away,” played as a tribute by The Band with Holly’s old band, The Crickets.

As I said, just for fun.

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