The Bluegrass Project

Tuesday, September 10

He had barely climbed out of the van last Wednesday morning when Tommy Taylor said to me, “I brought some pictures of your grandpa.” And only moments later I found myself flipping through a little photo book of places my grandpa had played music in his later years, upright bass in hand. It was the perfect start to the day.

Earlier this year, my cousin Teresa passed away after battling cancer for the past two decades. It meant a trip down to Grundy where my grandpa (my dad’s dad), grew up in a 2 bedroom house with his 7 brothers and sisters. Teresa was a beautiful and gentle soul and also about 50% of the reason we would visit Southwest Virginia every year or so. I grieved her passing, but also the loss of yet one more connection to the family history. I drove down twice last spring, once for the funeral and then to go back with my dad a few weeks later (he was on a cruise when the funeral was held). That second trip, as we sat on my Great Uncle Bob’s porch, I looked next door to the original family house and thought, “I have to capture this somehow.” And the spark of a dream began to record music from my great grandmother’s front porch, with the guys that used to play bluegrass with my grandpa.

And so we did!!!!! After a few months of planning and coordinating, last week, four “well-seasoned” bluegrass players drove down to Dry Fork Rd to join me for a day of playing music and making memories. It was a combination of my original songs, a cover of the Bluegrass song Jesse James, and several hymns thrown into the mix. We had Quay White on the upright bass (which was my grandpa’s!), Mike Hankins on dobro, Billy Brewster on banjo, and Tommy Taylor on harmonica. My heart is all pitter patter for the alliteration on those last two names alone!


This project, which came together so beautifully, also kept me on my worrisome toes. I didn’t even FIND MY OUTFITS to wear until I was driving toward Grundy….stopping at every Old Navy and Target I could find. At the last Target I went to, I found a sleeveless denim dress (in the clearance section) AND at the last Old Navy, I found a mustard dress with a tiny print of white flowers….whew! I had also bought plenty of other dresses that were all returned on the drive home. Grundy is the kind of place that if you don’t show up with it….and you can’t buy it at walmart…..well, you just won’t have it. I erred on the side of caution and took way more than I needed.

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I hired a local photographer….eek! It’s the first time I’ve really worked with someone without previously having known them in some capacity. Emily Rogers ended up being such a delight to work with…. she and her husband run the youth group at their church, she has a cut flower business alongside her photography…. we talked and laughed a lot during our couple of hours together.

My good friend, Brian Rose (of Movoly Productions), drove down to video and capture the audio for us. We rented a little field recorder with 8 inputs and Brian brought his camera equipment and microphones. He also brought his drone and having just peeked at some of the footage, I am so very excited at what we will be sharing soon!


There were a few moments throughout the day that I took a deep breath and thought about where we were. On the porch where my grandpa and his siblings learned to play music. Where my great grandma could throw a rock and hit a dog or kid on the other side of the road. Where stories were told and retold and songs were sung in the evening air. Where my stubborn family lived off the land through the great depression, where young men were sent off to war and somehow made it back home. It’s all held there, the memories, the untold stories, the dreams and heart ache. The loss of babies, the ruins of marriages, the celebration of new babies. In the latter years, the reunions of grandbabies and great grandbabies. And I stood there, for one afternoon, with men I hardly know but feel instantly at home with…. and made new music. I wonder the last time music shook those floorboards and echoed across the holler could have been. I mean, I know now.

Cause we did it. :)


Details about release and all that stuff is COMING SOON….now the real work begins.