We arrived at Minton's around 6:45 AM and were by no means the first people there. Over the next fifteen or twenty minutes enough people showed up to fill the 50 or so seats provided. The band took the stage and were introduced by radio host Steve Handy as they came on the air after the news at 7:00. The walls of the performance area at Minton's are hung with all sorts of instruments as well posters and signed pictures from the dozens of well-known musicians who have been through the store. Minton's is, indeed, one of those fabled music destinations all lovers of acoustic music should visit as a sort of pilgrimage. Beyond that, they deal in excellent instruments at good prices.
The band, containing members of the recording band who had made "OOzin' the Blues" performed from the stage, singing and playing songs from the new CD produced by Tut Taylor. From the recording band, Lorrie Barker sang and Steve Barker played lovely blues/jazz guitar. Dwight Burks played mandolin and fiddle as well as doing some singing. Donnie Swaim filled in for Tut more than capably on Dobro while his wife Lynn provided the solid bass on the doghouse. Songs like Honey Babe Blues, Wayfaring Stranger, Columbus Stockade Blues, and Sittin' Alone in the Moonlight were played with a bluesy tone in solid interpretations by Lorrie Barker, a very fine singer. Tut had said the other day that the music was different, and it is. And it's very good. "Oozin the Blues" can be ordered for $15.00 directly from:
808 Old 60
N. Wilkesboro, NC28659
In addition to the roll-out of a new CD featuring the still creative and innovative Tut Taylor at age 85, we were involved in a local radio station that's quite a favorite. Host Steve Handy arrived just in time to go on-air, glowing with enthusiasm and energy. He hit the decks running and kept the event lively and interesting through the next two hours. I commented to someone that I'd rather go to WKBC's Hometown Opry than attend The Grand Old Opry in Nashville. The hometown flavor and immediacy of a live radio program kept things interesting. During the program, Steve undertook to give away a number of small gifts and CD's in drawings, conduct a taste test for a variety of hot sauces, have two new guests to the Opry blow into Grandpa's Moose Call to the amusement of all, and to introduce fellow on air personality Ed Racey as both Edgar Alan Racey to read a poem and Sherlock Racey to recount an amusing crime story. Racey, in his regular role, reads the news.
Minton's is owned by Jerry Minton and Mike Palmer who provide space for this weekly event. By nine o'clock it's all over, and local people head off to work. Visitors to today's Opry come from as far away as England, Key West, Fl, Tennsesse, and, of course, there's a couple from New Hampshire there, too. The Hometown Opry at Minton's Music & Pawn is a local event featuring fine music, good fun, and a friendly environment. It's a not to be missed visit!