Great Transylvania Times article about Silvermont music!
STILL GOING STRONG
Mountain Music Thursdays
FOR THE T. TIMES
More than 30 years after local musicians first gathered to strum and sing favorite regional tunes, Mountain Music Thursdays at Silvermont Senior Center in Brevard are still going strong.
A recent cold night may have curtailed attendance of both music makers and their appreciative audience but as performers say, ‘the show must go on.’ And it did.
“Greetings everybody,” said guitarist and defacto leader Pat Clements. “It’s 7:30 and time for a little music.” And that’s all the four guitarists — Clements, Tom Acker, Wharton Donaldson and Ed Phillips — needed to get rolling. The single microphone was passed from one to another. He called out the tune and the key and as he sang solo, the others joined in. The music was eclectic; Clement said what was once played was pure mountain music but that stricture has loosened over the years. The playlist ran the gamut from “Steamroller Blues” by James Taylor to “City of New Orleans” popularized by Arlo Guthrie but written by Steve Goodman.
“It’s been a welcoming place; it always has been,” said Clements. “Everybody is comfortable and gracious. We play songs we know and don’t know. And bad notes are welcome.”
Sure, a few chords were missed here and there and sometimes lyrics proved elusive, but one gets the idea it’s really like-minded people who enjoy the playing music together. The good-natured banter between songs was evidence enough. When it was his turn, Phillips announced: “We’re going to play something different.”
Donaldson’s reply with a laugh: “What would be different is if I could play it.”
The audience appreciated their effort. That included 90-year-old Martha Jaye Johnson, a lifelong
– Silvermont, 10A
Helen Freedman and Martha Jaye Johnson cut a rug on the hardwood floor during Mountain Music Thursdays at Silvermont.
Dave Bradley, For The T. Times
Pat Clements and Ed Phillips are among those who play during the Mountain Music Thursdays at Silvermont.
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Brevardian who wouldn’t dream of skipping a 7:30 to 9 p.m. Thursday session. “Golly, I wouldn’t miss it. It’s fun,” she said.
Although Miss Johnson doesn’t play an instrument, she said, “Anybody, if they can play or not, they can join in. We just have a good time.” What she can do, however, is dance. Clements calls out a dance-worthy tune and Johnson is up and on the floor. (He noted she was a member of the Echo Inn clogging team that won a national championship back in the day and were featured on the Jimmy Dean television show as they danced to Alabama Jubilee.)
Indeed the enduring run of Mountain Music may have played a role in the rescue of Silvermont from the wrecking ball. Clement said the music began about the time in the early 1980s when the city suggested Silvermont be torn down. Friends of Silvermont was formed and the music was one way to raise donations (Thursday night attendance is free). Those originators,
Dave Bradley, For The T. Times
he said, “were influential for the salvation of this building.”
Some of the original regulars — Ray Smith, Harley Raines and Lyle Reedy, among others — no longer play so those relatively recent to Brevard, including Clements (New Jersey), Acker (Charleston), Donaldson (Philadelphia) and Phillips (Pittsburgh) are the necessary new blood that keep the tradition alive. Clements said on a typical night in good weather, up to 12 musicians join in the fun.
Concert-level skills aren’t a requisite. Acker’s wife learned of the Thursday nights while at the Brevard Visitor Center, “so we came over and checked it out.”
“They seemed like they could use another bad guitar player and a really bad singer. They haven’t run me off yet,” he chuckled.
Donaldson was encouraged by a friend to give the music a go, but he saw his debut as less than stellar.
“I will never forget my
Tom Acker sings his way through John Prine’s “Please Don’t Bury Me.”
first time here,” he recalled. “You try to do as well as you can but I really screwed up. I’d never performed before.”
But it was a Baptist preacher who applied the salve Donaldson needed. “He came up to me and said ‘Son, it’s all about a joyful noise.” And Donaldson hasn’t missed many jam sessions since.
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