Road to Agate Hill: Music from Southwest Virginia
"Alice, Gail, and Sharon are a striking trio of very talented women who have played and sung old-time music together over the last 17 years. Most of the tunes and songs featured on this recording chronicle the time Alice lived in Southwest Virginia learning about music and life directly from her dear old rural musician friends there. The singing, Alice's old style fiddling, Gail's clever clawhammer and 3-finger banjo picking, Sharon's solid and ever tasteful guitar picking all create the distinctive sounds of this trio. It's a precious glimpse into an earlier time. Alice will draw you in immediately with her rich vocal rendering of an unaccompanied ballad written by Lee Smith. There are obscure tunes and more familiar ones with delightful twists and surprises, all performed reverently and faithfully to their personal sources. The sisterly sounds of Gail and Alice's vocal duet of "Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child" is truly captivating and stunning. Through successive generations, this heart rending and playful music has been passed down and shared directly with family and dear friends. The cycle continues as Gail's daughter Nora and Alice's grandson Josh join the trio on a number of tracks adding their own distinctive sounds. This collection concludes with Alice's tender vocal tribute to her mom's final moments. "Agate Hill" is such a sweet exploration of the inevitable mortality that we all are forced to face over and over with the passing of our dear ones. Lee Smith, too, found solace in this powerful piece while struggling with her own tragic grief. Being so moved, Alice's "Agate Hill" became the cornerstone of Lee's latest novel. The ripples and lasting effects of music are often subtle and profound. We're just lucky that this old music, loved ones and time have a way of softening the blows that life periodically drops on each one of us. Enjoy and take heart." ~Rich Hartness.