Friday, March 18, 2011

Carlton Haney

At Fincastle for a reunion (Photo: Marcia Goodman)

I went to Berryville the first time in 1969 and was camping (basically sleeping in the car). I got there on Tuesday of what Carlton called his "Blue Grass School". He had Monroe's band to come in on Wednesday to do some workshops and they were there until Sunday. On Thursday evening about sunset I ran upon two guys from New York, Kenny Kosek and Jim Pelzer. Kenny was a good fiddler and Jim played a good Monroe style mandolin. But we were just jamming at the back of my car when this guitar player came by and began picking with us. After a few minutes we were picking pretty good this other gentleman came by and the guitar player said Dewey get your bass and he did. We'd probably played an hour or so when Carlton and John Miller came walking by. They stood and listen til we ended the song and he said Del, I know Dewey but who is the rest of your band. Del said I really don't know these guys we just got together a few minutes ago. (We didn't know it until then but the Del was Del McCoury)

Carlton couldn't believe it...he said you guys don't know each other? We said no and he ask each of us who we were were and where we were from. Kenny and Jim were from New York and I was from Spencer Virginia. Carlton was elated. He said Boys this is just what I hoped would happen. People from all over the country meeting and being able to play and sing together. He listened a while then walked on down the field a little ways, turned and came back. He said that JD Crowe was supposed to close out the show on Friday night but he had to do something in Washington for the Smithsonian and how would we like to play JD's spot. (At Carlton's visitation March 18th, 2011, I asked Doyle Lawson about that night at Berryville. He was playing with JD Crowe and said they had worked a show over at the Folklife Festival in Washington that they had there during the 4th of July each year)

It floored all of us.... So Friday night at 10:00 Fred Bartenstein was introducing us when Carlton came out on stage. Fred had said that we have these guys and what are we going to call them...lets call them the Watermelons...Then Carlton came to the mike and said that "these boys have made my dream come true", "when We first started doing these shows I hoped that people from all over the country would meet and play this music together". Lets call them the Muleskinner Boys...With that Del did the C-run intro and Kenny went into "Watermelon Hanging on the Vine". We went on into "Toy Heart" and "On and On", the tunes kept flowing. After a little while someone called for "Uncle Pen" and Sonny Osborne came out and sang baritone, Then Billy Baker and Wayne Yates came out for a tune or two. We were running over on time bad but having a wonderful time, finally Carlton came out and said that we'd have to shut it down for the night but invited us to be a part of the "Story" on Sunday. We did an hour and the sound man did a tape of it for me.

This was the first time I was ever on stage at a Blue Grass Festival and after we came of stage that night Carlton came out to my car about the time I was getting ready to get in the back seat and go to sleep and said there is a little building on the other side of the stage with a cot in in. Why don't you sleep there from now on, you'll be much more comfortable. For some reason I didn't remember when to be at the stage on Sunday and I missed the "Story" tune. Earl Sneed was playing banjo when I walked up while the "Story" was being done.

I've always regretted missing that but it was a great time on Friday night.

In later years Carlton brought up that night many times that "his dream came true" of having people from all parts of the country and walks of life be able to play Blue Grass together having never done it before.

In recent years I've spent countless hours on the phone with him. Any call always lasted a couple of hours and I wish I had taped some of our conversations. He was one of the most wonderful "Characters" of this industry and always thinking creatively.

In his later years he did a lot of thinking of how and why things happen, rather than making things happen as he had in his early days. Due to this many just sort of 'wrote him off' as having lost it, I guess that is not uncommon when we hear information beyond our comprehension. He spoke of Pythagoras, being in rhythm with the rotation of the earth and its place in the Universe, he studied the notes of the instruments, the vibrations, pitches, I wish I had all of what he said recorded.

Possibly someone has all this recorded, and in the future we might understand it better all bye and bye.

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