Monday, February 28, 2005

05-05 Bonus rpt, Mount Ida Arkansas

Bonus Report
Week 5
Mount Ida Arkansas, population 935

About 45 miles west of Hot Springs is a small mountain town called Mount Ida. They advertised as having a music jam session between 3-7 pm and a free outdoor concert starting at 7:00. Had to go.
The route following hwy 270 west through a winding curving scenic route, I arrived early and putzed around. Had a catfish lunch at an ice-cream dinner and of course had an ice-cream cone dipped in chocolate.

The music was performed at the Montgomery County Front Porch stage, right behind the county jail and court house. About a dozen of the 935 residents of Ida were behind bars, or should I say a chain link fence. Their bright orange attire giving them away.

I liked the jam session, where anyone with an instrument could join in. A few were singers, older ones of course. One White haired gal knew all the old country standards. Songs like “I didn’t know I was down till I met you”. One guy kept singing all these folk Christian tunes, but a bit too preachy for my taste.

Hearing 10-12 fiddlers, guitar players and two base fiddles play all at the same time, was awesome. Did you know that country musicians didn’t have drummers for many years, because they thought the drummers were too wild. Guess that’s why you’ll never see a drum set at a folk music group. Found out that bit of info at the Sun Studio’s back in Memphis. The first recording by Elvis had no drummer because they wanted to make him into a country singer. The folks at the jam session were very friendly and I was able to start up a conversation with many of them very easily.

The sound man pointed out the local birds in the area and gave a history of the place to me. I saw my first Road-Runner. So look in the attached pictures of it. All the music and people who set up the stage are all volunteers. No money is paid to any of them or the performers. A hat is passed around after the main entertainers perform, but there is no charge.

Riding back to the campground at sunset, I realized that country means different things to each person. This is the part of country I like. Fresh air, the smell of jasmine in the air, tree covered mountains with lakes and farms dotting the landscape and the sound of the fiddle and guitar playing those traditional hill Billy tunes.

As the setting sun highlights the tips of the mountains I’m ready to continue my journey to find the heart of this country.

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