2009 USA Tour : March 17th, St. Patrick's Day at Hot Springs NC
Leaving Greenwood Lake
After a couple of days of rain, the blue sky, sun and warmth returned before we left the beautiful Greenwood Lake, South Carolina. After a few leaving photos it was off on a 3 hour drive to the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina, our home for the next 2 nights while Claire and I perform at Hot Springs and Bryson City in the area.
The drive was pleasant, first through calm and barely populated South Carolina country lanes then onto the freeway that entered and wound around the North Carolina mountains.
Arrival at our camp site in Maggie Valley early was a great relief. This is more of a resort camp site rather than a nature hugging state park site that we have loved so much. However, its not exactly a resort yet as none of the facilities are open. Its quiet here, not many campers, a bubbling creek and a very good online connection. Lots of shady trees too, useful as it has turned sunny and warm now. Easy to dump to sewerage here too.
Into The North Carolina Mountains
Though our host provided a Hot Springs street and number address for the gig tonight where were going was far from this. Taria our host had concerns about us climbing the mountain road to her home with an RV.
As we meandered the calming road through some of the most beautiful and very green scenery of the USA I had ever seen I was wondering what her concern was, and then the road tarmac ran out, the road narrowed and became steeper. Soon the dirt track was hugging the side of the mountain with a steep drop the other side and only enough room for the RV. Bends were an interesting manoeuvre. I both wondered if we were heading for Shangri-La and how on earth will an audience get up here?
Near the top of the mountain our Sat-Nav GPS said we had arrived. We were at a junction of 4 muddy dirt tracks, lots of forest, no cell phone signal and not a building to be seen. Luckily a “resident” appeared, kindly stopped and spent about 15 minutes slurring an explanation that we needed to go up one of the tracks another half mile.
With delight and warm greeting from Tarya and friends we arrived to a snug but sizeable log cabin on the mountain.
A Mountain St. Patrick’s Day Ceili
Well, we did not have to worry about audience as this North Carolina mountain has many folks hidden around the top, all arriving with their jars of mountain dew made from their own special recipes. Of course, I had to try them all. About 40 folks turned up, shared their liquor, local bear stew, corn bread, slaw and cherry pie
We did not change a thing in our show.
They loved the “X Marks The Spot” folk drama first set, really got into that and understood it. In the second set Claire and I were amazed and delighted that Claire’s own songs were responded to much more than the Irish songs.
Here’s the list from this show
Sitting In A Green Field
Fields Of Fasseroe
Brian Boru’s March
Star Of The Country Down
Suil A Rhuin
a new Gaelic song Claire has started performing
Give Me Your Hand
Salley Gardens with Hope joining in vocals
Cockles and Mussels
She Moved Through The Fair
Wild Mountain Thyme
Jug Of Punch
This was all followed by a session by the local mountain musicians on guitars, banjo, mandolin, double bass, piano, percussion with all kinds of mountain music and delightful stories.
Tonight I feel we experienced a part of USA few visitors find time to find and share and maybe only see on movies. The mountain people and their culture are still here and so much alive and they are so, so wise of the world, the land and all things. They also have and share such a wide appreciation, respect, loyalty, community, love and support. They were so open and sharing with us, so, so kind always, This evening will be such a treasured memory. I hope we return here soon.