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Dugger Mountain Update

My apologies to fans who tuned into APTV last night to hear Shades Mountain Air on “Dugger Mountain Music Hall” and saw an older episode instead. Our recorded performance was to play last night but the station changed the program. I will try to find out about the last minute change and give an update about when our show will air. I apologize to our friends and fans, especially if you sat up past your bedtime!

Thank you for your understanding.   UPDATE:

 

Got an update from APTV, who decide about shows on the schedule change. The producers could not get the program ready in time for last night’s broadcast. They have to edit an hour aand a half show down to 30 minutes, and it was not quite ready.  Therefore, Shades Mountain Air’s episode has been rescheduled for July 25, 2017.  

Meanwhile, those of you who watched last night got to meet Chris Golden, who is the son of William Golden of the Oak Ridge Boys (the one with the long beard!). He is a wonderful drummer and musician in his own right.  Here is Chris’ song called “Thank God for Kids”–worth hearing.  

 Thanks for your interest!!  

 Gary Furr

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COMING UP SMA on Dugger Mountain Theater

Shades Mountain Air on “Dugger Mountain Music Hall,”

ALABAMA PUBLIC TELEVISION (APTV) Tuesday, June 27 at 10:30 pm

Back in May, Shades Mountain Air (myself, Nancy McLemore, Don Wendorf, Greg Womble and Melanie Rodgers) loaded up and traveled to Dugger Mountain Music Hall in Piedmont, Alabama. It sits in as unlikely a spot as the crossroads where the boys in “O Brother Where Art Thou” picked up Tommy Johnson on the way to Tishomingo. DMMH came from the vision and ministry of Bob McLeod, a talented and charismatic former professional musician and studio engineer.  Following a profound personal spiritual crisis, Bob McLeod began to seek to minister to people in trouble–in prisons, jails, streets, and those caught in addiction.

Eventually he established Dugger Mountain Music Hall as the public face of Our Father’s Arms, where they take in people in need of help.   He describes the place as “a Christ centered family.” It is located in the middle of open country north of Anniston, Alabama in a former Baptist church that had ceased to exist. The building was given to him for a ministry, and he brought together his love of music with the ministry.  Fast forward, now the facilities include a 30 acre farm with a home for men; a 3 acre home nearby for women, mothers and their children known as Eagles Nest; and a state-of-the-art recording studio, offices, fellowship hall and the Dugger Mountain Music Hall. In 2010, the television program was born.  On the nights of performances, they open the doors to welcome the community, enjoy supper and bands and performers, some touring through and others from nearby places in Alabama, perform. Read the rest of this entry

Musical Profile: Laura McGhee

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Laura McGhee

Laura’s talent is immense and her music full of heart…,I hope you get to hear Laura sometime.  She’s a terrific musician and … You’ll find these tunes getting in your head and your voice humming along!

 

Laura McGhee performed together with Shades Mountain Air on Saturday evening, then came and performed at our church on Sunday morning, doing her two beautiful compositions, “Roxburghe House” and “Commemoration,” the former a musical reflection on a house in Scotland where hospice work now takes place, the latter a piece she composed for a 9-11 memorial in New York.  Set in the context of worship, they affected the congregation deeply.  It was quite a weekend, one in which I was able to spend more time than I often do with a fellow performer in a co-bill.

I met Laura last year when we shared a performance at Moonlight on the Mountain in Hoover, Alabama, near where I live.  It was a delightful evening, and her talent and musical chops were evident to all of us.  When our host on Saturday evening scheduled a retirement party for all of her friends this weekend at the same listening room, Read the rest of this entry

“Live at Moonlight On the Mountain”

Our band has produced two CDs in the past, in 2000 (Shades Mountain Air) and in 2004 (Sky’s a Clearing).  For the last nine years, we’ve been promising a “new” CD while going about busy lives.  I have had four individual collections of songs in the meantime, and the band has done a CD related to Greg’s short film, titled Christmas At Virgin Pines.

DSC_1789 (1024x678)Sometime last year, we said, “Why don’t we try a live CD?  It can capture the energy and experience of a performance, the joy of sharing with an audience, in a venue we love?”  So, the result was a June 1 concert at Moonlight on the Mountain in Hoover, Alabama, one of our very favorite places to play.  Engineer Fred Miller of Knoddingoffmusic came and meticulously recorded the night and mastered the CD for us.  After many months, Live At Moonlight On the Mountain  is finally here and available for purchase.  It’s a great CD, maybe the best ever.  It shows our fifteen years together, the long experience of performing our songs until the arrangement is just right, and the love and energy of playing together.  I think our fans will love it!

So, I encourage you to visit our store on our website.  Eventually it will be available on Amazon and iTunes, but for now, you can purchase directly here by credit card.  Just click the link! LIVE AT MOONLIGHT ON THE MOUNTAIN

Thou Shalt Love Thy Bandmates

Anyway, riding in a van for a week turned us from “Friends

and Brothers” to angry inmates who couldn’t wait to bust out.

Fifteen Years.  That’s how long Shades Mountain Air has been together, at least the core of Greg and Nancy Womble, Gary Furr, and Don Wendorf.  We have spent a couple hours a week most of that fifteen years weekly at Greg and Nancy’s house, practicing, horsing around, composing, arranging, learning and growing from one another.  We’ve only had one personnel change in all that time–Don’s son, Paul, our outstanding fiddle player, left us to move on with wife, kids, career, to Texas, and so, we were four again for a while, then found Melanie Rodgers.  Mel has added dynamic new joy to our sound, and is now a part of our 15th Anniversary Live Album that is now available.     (Go to the website store for our new CD click here!)

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Shades Mountain Air at Moonlight, 2013

The album sounds great!  We hired Fred Miller of Knodding Off Music to record and engineer our live concert.  Fred did a fantastic job and we are so happy with the result.  He captured our live sound and energy.  It sounds like us!  There is NOTHING like live music, and though it’s fun to be in a studio and monkey around with something until you get it “perfect”, there is a corresponding loss of that spark that performers-audience and a venue provide.  We did it at our favorite gig–Moonlight On the Mountain in Bluff Park in Hoover, Alabama, with Keith Harrelson, as always, handling lights and sound.

I say all this because Shades Mountain Air is more than a band.  We have become family together.  We love playing together, singing, creating, whether anyone is listening or not.  Greg and Nancy’s kids grew up having to hear us every week in their house. We have been through life crises, griefs, and changes Read the rest of this entry

Gary and SHADES MOUNTAIN AIR live at Wald Park tonight

Nancy

N:ancy Womble will be OUT IN THE YARD at Wald Park! 7-8 tonight

I don’t go anywhere Jesus wouldn’t go,” and if I read the gospels right, that doesn’t exclude much at all. 

Well, speaking of music, last week Nancy and I sang at the funeral I conducted for a dear, dear friend and fellow church member, Mr. Hack Sain.  Hack loved our music and encouraged me in it.  He got us front row seats at the Grand Ole Opry while we were in Nashville leading a prayer retreat for the church years ago.  nThe retreat finished, people had free time, and a bunch of us went to the Opry, thanks to Hack’s good friend Joe Thrasher.  Well, Joe got us front row seats, and there I was, staring up at Lorrie Morgan, who was hosting.  She is a beautiful woman, and a great singer.  It was a fine time.  Of course, I forgot we were on TV, and after I drove home, preached, and was standing out in the foyer, members came up and said, “Hey Preacher, we thought you were leading a prayer retreat, but I cut on the Grand Ole Opry last night, and there was Lorrie Morgan in a miniskirt and there you were on the front row.”  Blush.  Hack loved it.

My rule about playing music is I don’t perform where the venue isn’t about the music.  My rule is, “I don’t go anywhere Jesus wouldn’t go,” and if I read the gospels right, that doesn’t exclude much at all.  Might keep me out of a few religious gatherings, but if sinners are there, I have the green light from the Boss…

HEY, all of our bama and Birmingham friends, we will be at WALD PARK tonight for the resxcheduled I LOVE AMERICA series for Vestavia Hills.  Kids activities, free swimming and a family movie, along with our concert at 7-8 pm.  Hope you can come out!!!!!

CLICK THIS LINK FOR MORE INFO

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Visitor to Virgin Pines

Scene from the movie

I have dipped my first toe into soundtrack creation for a movie.  My bandmate, Greg Womble, has written and produced a beautiful short Christmas film and is in the final edit stage of his short Christmas film, “Visitor to Virgin Pines.”

Our band was invited to do music for it, and I have to say, it is one of the most interesting undertakings I have ever done.  Mostly late at night, I sat with a banjo, guitar, mandolin, even percussion, and tried to create “moods” for scenes.  I have enormous appreciation for what people who do this face.  And yet, it is joy to do it.  I came up with some really nice instrumental stuff, not all of it chosen for the musical, but which may land in a Christmas CD.  Here’s a piece I did on the banjo called “Sugarplum Ferries” (yes, I know.  I spelled it the way I wanted to–I had the image of little boats going back and forth loaded with goodies).   “Sugarplum Ferries” Read the rest of this entry

Sunday July 1 5 pm, Gary will be in concert at St. Alban’s Episcopal with Shades Mountain Air

This Sunday, I will be in concert with our band, SHADES MOUNTAIN AIR, at 5 pm at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Bluff Park (Hoover), Alabama.

Looking forward to seeing a lot of our friends for a fun time together!

CLICK to go to St. Alban’s website

 

Think Globally Listen Locally

Corporations are not necessarily evil in and of themselves, but the net effect can be the disappearance of everything that makes the place where you live distinctive.

Got a notice from my friend Steve Norris that our friend Dale Short put us on his “Music From Home” radio program yesterday.  (LISTEN) (SMA is on the first program)

Thanks, Dale!  “Music From Home” is local artists.  I appreciate that there are still programs here and there in a world in which globalized corporate mass culture (which is short for “controlled by a few people who are not always interested in the music”) threatens to gobble up everything.  Music and making money have a long and unhappy marriage.  They love one another and need each other but they can’t make each other happy.  Their families were so different.  They hurt each other and use each other all the time.  Sometimes they have to separate to get on with life.

Dale Short of “Music From Home”

The internet and programs like Dale’s provide hope that artists, musical worlds and songwriters can collaborate and pursue their craft in different ways.  The web is already having a salutary effect on music.  It is possible to skip the narrow funnel of corporate mass marketing that has produced some great stuff but also turned away some great music that people would like.  This is why listening rooms like Keith Harrelson’s Moonlight On the Mountain and other great places struggle to make it and deserve our support.

These changes will be painful for a while, as they are in publishing and in every field.  But as with all things human, there is also possibility for many good things, too.  Hope you’ll support local artists, internet radio and local radio programs, and local venues and businesses.  Corporations are not necessarily evil in and of themselves, but the net effect can be the disappearance of everything that makes the place where you live distinctive.  Supporting local life (which means “I am willing to pay more for what I like’) is a way to protest the gobble ’em up and kill ’em off so I can have a house in Santa Fe culture.

We need to pay attention–how we spend our money, what we listen to, and where we direct time has massive implications for our future.  Be purposeful in your life.  It matters.

 

 

“Just a Little Talk With Jesus”

“Just a Little Talk With Jesus” is a famous old gospel song.  Last night, our band, Shades Mountain Air, had a grand time at the American Gospel Quartet Convention in Birmingham and sang this crowd favorite.  I knew that it was a song that black and white audiences in the South had shared since it was written.  It’s been covered by just about everybody—Bill Gaither, Elvis Presley, the Stanley Brothers, and innumerable mass choirs, quartets and Sunday night gatherings around the piano in little country churches.   (click this link to listen to the song by Shades Mountain Air)

It’s so heartfelt, so soulful—are you in trouble?  Look in and up—just a little talk to Jesus will make it right.  This song first found me in my seminary church, where I was minister of music and youth (a lofty, long title for a part-time staff member in a blue-collar white church).  My church was southern, small-town North Carolina Southern Baptist folk, barely scratching to stay above the black folk in the town—marginal at best.  Ever Sunday night we gathered around the piano and pulled out our “Number 8s” our name for the red songbooks we loved full of familiar gospel music.  Anyone who wanted to be in the “kwarr” (choir) would gather with us, and people would call out a favorite.  “My God is Real,” was the one Mr. Jernigan always requested.  “They Tore the Old Country Church Down,” “Whisper a Prayer,” “Troublesome Times Are Here,” Mansion Over the Hilltop,” “If That Isn’t Love,” “Hide Me, Rock of Ages,” and, of course, “Just a Little Talk with Jesus,” because the bass singers got to show out.

I’ll never forget the day that a black family showed up at our church door and one of the men sent his little boy back to tell them they couldn’t come here.  I tried to get the church to put up a basketball goal in our parking lot for the little black children who were always playing when we drove up for Sunday night church.  But it was 1978, and our world was cracking but the walls hadn’t come down.  I lost my first church vote of my career as one family who barely came to church brought their entire extended clan to vote my proposal down.  It was a hard lesson for a 24 year old future preacher.

It was our little church, where we came for comfort.  We didn’t want change, just the comfort of “a little talk with our

Rev. Lister Cleavant Derricks, author of "Just a Little Talk With Jesus"

Jesus.”  Lawd, we loved that song.  What a trip to find out that this white gospel favorite was written by an African American composer named Cleavant Derricks.

The website “Southern Edition” has a fine biography about Rev. Cleavant Derricks.  He was a wonderful musician who was born in Chattanooga in 1910 and had a stellar career as a minister, musician and pastor.  A gentle, kind man, his songs were sung by tens of thousands.   The website says that

The same songs that ministered to impoverished blacks enduring discrimination in the Jim Crow South spoke to the hearts of disadvantaged whites whose lot seemed similarly dismal due to hardships spurned on by the Great Depression and the World War II years. Like Dorsey, Tindley and Morris, Derricks would write songs that addressed daily hardships, praised a loving, sustaining God and spoke of the heavenly reward believers would gain following their labour on earth. Butler adds, “And, too, his songs were sung in the Pentecostal churches back in those days. Those people were considered the poor class—you know, the common man. They were struggling, and so his songs were accepted very rapidly because they did have that hope.”

Butler points out that “most people didn’t know [Derricks] was a black man when his songs first started being published by Stamps-Baxter.” James R. Goff Jr. concurs in his book, Close Harmony: A History of Southern Gospel, stating, “With an unmistakable influence from the shape-note convention arrangements and a style that often featured the bass part on the chorus, Derricks’s songs found their way into Southern shape-note hymnbooks, though few in the South would probably have guessed the author’s racial origins.”

The colossal stupidity and sinful ignorance that was racism kept us apart, but music and common suffering ignored what our systems and conscious minds erected to supposedly “protect our way of life.”  We always were one and the same.  Thank God we at least sang his songs.  So today’s song, in honor of Rev. Derrick, is “Just a Little Talk With Jesus.”  Thank God Almighty, we are further down the road to being “free at last.”  Free to love one another and sing the songs of Zion.

Shades Mountain Air last night at the More Than Conquerers Church in Birmingham, hosts of the American Gospel Quartet Convention