On Wednesday night in a dimly lit bar with wooden tables and floors sits a stage that lines most of the right wall. This is to put the focus on the most important aspect of it all: the stage.
As co-owner and ETSU faculty member Ed Snodderly said, “There’s not any kind of advertisement of anything, there’s not T.V., there’s not any kind of thing other than tables and chairs and a stage. And to me that’s the primary colors.”
On Sept. 14, the Down Home in downtown Johnson City hosted a Bluegrass, Old Time, Country, and Celtic Music Faculty Performance that was as wonderful and special as the music they played.
They played old fashioned bluegrass, Irish Jigs and even Mariachi music, showcasing the amazing talents housed in ETSU’s Bluegrass, Old Time, and Country Music Studies Department of Appalachian Studies.
During the performance one could see the wide variety of instruments the faculty could play, from the banjo to the fiddle, and each one played creating a sound unlike the other. It was not the ability to play these instruments that made the music interesting and unique; it was the passion that each performer brought to playing and performing.
From the moment each performer walked on stage, you could feel the joy that they had for being on that stage and being with the amazingly talented people they were sharing it with. You could see the pleasure on each person’s face as they settled into the rhythm of the music and the instrument. It was almost as if you could reach out and touch it.
A performance by Will MacMorran and student Aynsley Porchak, who performed an Irish Jig, was a highlight of the night. The intensity that each had while performing was unbelievable. If you were to close your eyes, you would have thought you were in Ireland.
Another performance, during which they played Mariachi music, left me feeling melancholy for a place I had never been. As the night went on, each song and performance was better than the last.
When speaking with some of the faculty it was very clear to see they were doing what they loved and that they loved sharing it with the students. Daniel Boner, Director of Bluegrass, Old Time, and Country Music Studies Department of Appalachian Studies said, “The degree came in in 2010 and we’ve been graduating pretty good steady groups. We graduated 17 this last year.”
The next Wednesday night Down Home has an event, I highly suggest attending. There is something truly amazing about sitting in a room with people who all love every bit of what is happening.
The history of Bluegrass is deeper and more global than I ever thought, but sitting in Down Home I gained a deeper and richer understanding of each genre. It is always wonderful to watch people do what they love, and the love for music has never been clearer than while in this room.