Thursday, October 25, 2012

Road Trip with Darin & Brooke Aldridge

We gathered at Darin & Brooke Aldridge's home in Cherryville (that's Churvil for those who don't speak North Carolinian) on a warm, clear Saturday afternoon to drive in their van to Blowing Rock for an evening concert. It was the height of leaf peeping season, and we had heard that traffic up on the Blue Ridge was expected to be heavy. Each year in mid-October, people flock to the Smoky Mountains to enjoy the colors, attend autumn festivals, celebrate the end of the tourist season. We sardined ourselves into the red van with Darin & Brooke's picture on the side as well as the Sun Drop logo, and headed out. Rachel, along with members of her family and Brooke, who had spent the weekend with her parents, would meet us there. 

We had forgotten that Blowing Rock was high along the Blue Ridge Parkway, a mountain village surrounded by seasonal homes and filled with trendy shops and restaurants. A village of about 1200 residents, it swells in season to many times that number. It is at an altitude of around 3500 feet, and on a clear, fall afternoon there's a chill wind blowing through our too light clothing. The streets are filled with similarly garbed people, many eating, unimaginably, beautifully constructed ice cream creations. Restaurants had long waiting lists, many not having a place until 9:00 PM, but we finally were able to get seats for our large party in The Mellow Mushroom, where we enjoyed delicious pizza, sandwiches, and salad. Considering the day's crush, service and quality remained remarkably high.

The Street Scene in Blowing Rock

Meeting and Greeting New Friends

Band Members on the Trip
Dwayne Anderson & Elizabeth Hollified

Colin Willis

Matt Love & Mackenzie

The Blowing Rock School

The concert series sponsored by Mountain Home Music has produced well over 200 concerts in its history, and is now located in the pleasant auditorium of the Blowing Rock School. Under the leadership of Director Joe Shannon, the series continues to offer a strong schedule of concerts to the Blowing Rock community. 

Series Director: Joe Shannon

Mark & Julee Weems

While the program had an unusual structure, the duo of Mark & Jullee Glaub Weems offered a sample of their traditional music between sections of the Darin & Brooke Aldridge show. Billed on line as Little Windows, they were, in part, presenting a preview of a house concert the next day as well as leading a sing-a-long interval in the show.  Julie's clear, warm, Celtic lilted voice led the audience in two songs, leaving me wanting to hear more. I'll look for them in the future. 

Mark Weems

Julee Glaub Weems

The Darin & Brooke Aldridge Band

We've been friends and fans of the Darin & Brooke Aldridge band since before they were a band, having met them through Bobby Jones (Dr. Tom Bibey), when Darin was still singing with The Circuit Riders while he and Brooke had just become engaged.. We've followed them through the foundation of their band, their marriage, and the progress of their band from a local gospel group to a nationally recognized bluegrass band strongly influenced by gospel music. They've developed a catalog of love songs, driving bluegrass songs, and fervent gospel music that draws people to the performance area even when they're scheduled at hard to fill hours bringing people to their feet calling for more.  Through appropriate personnel changes and the addition of fiddler Rachel Johnson Boyd, they've consistently broadened their repertoire and their outreach. Nominated twice as IBMA Emerging Artist of the Year, they continue to draw fans from a wide spectrum of music lovers. 

Darin Aldridge

Brooke Aldridge

Rachel Johnson Boyd
Dwayne Anderson

 Colin Willis

 Matt Love

Darin Aldridge

Brooke Aldridge & Rachel Johnson Boyd

At the close of the well-received show, we loaded sound equipment, instruments, and ourselves back in the van for the trip off the mountain back to the Piedmont. There's a temptation to romanticize the life of a road musician. Many songs and stories tell the truth of the rigors of this life, but there's nothing like riding in a not too comfortable van over narrow, curvy mountain roads at midnight to drive home the truth that this is, at best, a difficult way to make a living and to express one's love for performing great music.  I dozed while Darin drove into the night.....