Saturday, August 06, 2005

Bill, Patty, and Crystal Cummings

Jeff hosts an old-timey jam that's been going for about 20 years. (Okay, maybe 25.) It happens every week at his house, whether he's there or not. After a couple of decades, people have learned that they can just show up on Wednesdays and there will be people there, playing music.

A few years ago, Bill and Patty Cummings, from Arizona, knocked on the door. "Is there a jam here?" They were on their way to the Rocky Mountain Fiddle Camp, from Flagstaff, Arizona.

They were a little early, but came up the stairs and sat down in the living room. Bill got out his fiddle, shuffled his feet a little, and asked, "Well, do you play 'Sugar Hill'?"

Jeff allowed as how he did. Without any further ado, Bill ripped off a version that sounded just like Tommy Jarrell.

Then he named another tune, played it, and sounded ... just like Tommy Jarrell. After about three more rounds of this Jeff said, "That sounds really great. Where'd you learn those versions?"

"Tommy Jarrell."

Turns out Bill had gone out to Toast, N.C., to study with Tommy while he was still alive.

Now, one Wednesday night a year, Bill and his big grin come walking up the stairs to sound just like Tommy Jarrell. It's a joy.

Patty is a fine, fine, backup guitar player; her daughter, Crystal, plays bodhran. Friday night, the three played the Denver dance. They even invited Pam Brown and Jeff sit in for a tune or two.

In the top picture, an admiring and photogenic dancer, out visiting from Florida, looks on.


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