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a fantastic project! Enjoy every minute and take our thanks for taking the music to its roots and for kicking off the tour at the CoffeeTree. Kitty La

Trail Magic! James Smith, the AutoHarpMan from Al-la-Bam! 222 Southcrest St Huntsville, Al Appalachian Trail Music Tour May 3 rd 19 th 2007 Have you ever heard of
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Trail Magic! James Smith, the AutoHarpMan from Al-la-Bam! 222 Southcrest St Huntsville, Al Appalachian Trail Music Tour May 3 rd 19 th 2007 Have you ever heard of Trail Magic? That is what I heard often during my Appalachian Trail Music Tour. (May 3 rd 19 th 2007) Trail Magic is an unanticipated encounter that warms your heart and fills you with all is well in your world! It might be seeing a rainbow after a rainstorm while being surrounded by the stillness of a mountaintop you spent the night on. It could be an unhurried conversation with someone around a campfire that is kindly knocking a little of the chill off of the mountain night air at one of the Appalachian Trail shelters. But this Trail Magic was hearing some old mountain tunes up on the Appalachian Trail played on an Autoharp and sung by the AutoHarpMan from Al-la-Bam! How do you celebrate turning 65? I had already done the physical training thing when I turned 40. It was during my running years and in that particular year (1982) I ran two 5K s four 10K s a 25K and two marathons. (enough of that still work out for an hour M - F) I have had it in my craw for some years to take off up through the Appalachian Mountains and play some Old-time and Traditional music and talk with anyone who was not too busy to stop and visit a spell. I wanted to hear some old stories about their dad or granddad or brother who was a musician er, as Ol Clint Howard likes to say up in Mt. City TN, that liked to play the old mountain music on the fiddle, banjer or a git-tar and maybe buck dance and hoot and holler a little. My agenda was to not have any agenda! My agenda was to take the next small road that was close to the Appalachian Trail and stop where the Trail crossed the road. My agenda was to walk up the Trail a little ways, play a few tunes and hopefully meet some Trail hikers. (Trail names like Nature Boy Tripper James - Lone-Wolf Sugar- Grits Big Ol Boy Combat Doc - Pong Weebles N Lion Barking-Spider Lone star Whispers Virginia Creepers Sardine & Noodles Footloose and many other interesting wonderful people enjoying their time on the Appalachian Trail) My agenda was to stay at campgrounds along the way and sleep in my Rollin -Inn. (in the back of my 1998 Ford Explorer Sport with 200,000 miles on it - curled up in a warm mummy style sleeping bag on a nice soft air mattress it just don t get any better than that) May 3 rd 2007 Thursday - Well let s just double clutch this old log truck, get her in gear and head off on down the road! We kicked the Music-Tour off on Thursday night at the CoffeeTree across from Grissom H S in Huntsville. The CoffeeTree is a great place for visiting with friends, having some coffee, finding a wonderful one of a kind book, or hearing the song-writers sing some of their songs. Tom Crain and Kitty were excited and could not have been more helpful about having the Music Tour being kicked off at the CoffeeTree. Tom was kind to sign my journal. Tom said: Happy Birthday The tour is 1 a fantastic project! Enjoy every minute and take our thanks for taking the music to its roots and for kicking off the tour at the CoffeeTree. Kitty Lawson said: Happy Birthday! I hope your tour is even better than you can imagine. Thank you so very much for allowing the CoffeeTree to be a part of your joy. Many music friends and non-music friends came to help celebrate my venture. Tom and Cathy Carney, with the Old Huntsville Magazine came down after putting a terrific promotional together in the magazine along with the CoffeeTree Advertisement. Cathy and Tom were kind to sign my journal. They said: We can t wait to hear all the details of your adventure! Other good friends, who all seemed to thoroughly enjoy the musical evening, wrote many good wishes in my journal. My favorite storyteller, Mr. Joe, said: We will have cornbread, collards, sweet potatoes and pork roast ready for your return Have fun. Mr. Joe s wife, Linda, said: Walk a little on the Trail for me and hug a few trees! Have fun and make a lot of music. Linda has walked the Trail some in every State it goes through from Georgia to Maine. Jim Parker, a wonderful songwriter and one of my good music friends said: Lonely is Another State & I m Just Passin Through a line from one of his many recorded songs break-a-leg! Good music friends, Lori and Jerry McGough said: Walking and singing sounds like a lot of fun! I know you ll meet lots of wonderful people and they will love your music. Our best to you! The Coordinator for Child and Adolescent Services at the Madison County Mental Health Center, my supervisor and favorite clarinet player, Jane Orton, came to the kick off for a few minutes between her other commitments and signed my journal. She said: I love Arkansas Traveler Great job tonight thanks for your beautiful and fun music! A good music friend, Lou Beasley, played his Autoharp that evening and signed my journal. He said: Wish you the best of luck on your tour of the birthplace of mountain music look and listen for the spirit of Mother Maybelle! Mr. Joe told one of his fun interesting stories. Another good music friend, Jim England, also played his Autoharp and signed my journal. He said: Good luck on your trip. I hope lots of music finds you on your travels. Wish I could be riding with you! Many others signed my journal and I appreciate each and every one of their good wishes. My daughter Susan amazed everyone with her beautiful vocals while being accompanied by the (beyond adjectives) Jennifer Allen on the guitar and who also fiddled on a few tunes with me. My talented seven-year-old granddaughter also sang beautifully with her mom. May 4 th 2007 Friday - After playing at the HarborChase Assisted Living Place, I left town and headed for Amicalola Falls State Park in North Georgia on the Southeast corner of the Chattahoochee National Forest where the Appalachian Trail begins its 2175-mile footpath through 14 states and traversing 8 National Forests on its way to Mt Katahdin in the Baxter State Park in the State of Maine. The Appalachian Trail was conceived by Benton MacKays in 1921, is a Unit of the National Park Service and is maintained by a grand family of 30 Appalachian Trail Clubs. 2 Sometimes there is a thin line between being creative and just being stupid! The unknown is a fun way of walking along that line. It has been too long since I turned right on Hwy 40 at Scottsboro AL and crossed the Tennessee River Bridge heading up toward Rainsville and Ft Payne. It s a nice bridge and a beautiful river. It s a pretty drive along the high bluff looking out over the river. The sign says welcome to Section AL and it is raining some. Every good bike trip, canoe trip, hiking trip, or music trip should always begin with some rain. Rain is always an unmistakable good omen of having a great adventure! The rain helps cool things off in your head. The rain helps rinse the world off of where you are. A little rain is always a good way to begin an adventure. Welcome to Sand Mt! I ll bet some of the gene pool of the Louvin Brothers is still over here. The Sacred Harp singers and their wonderful music came from up in this area. Maybe it s in the clean air or sweet water up here on the mountain. The band Alabama with cousins Randy Owen and Ted Gentry came from up in this neck of the woods. Along with Jeff Cook and later Mark Herndon, they sold more #1 records than any other country band in the history of Country Music. I think I ll just stop for a drink of water. I m gettin real thirsty! I am heading toward I-59 on Hwy 40, going east bound and up toward Amicalola Falls State Park. It needs to be noted that when the Hwy sign says Hwy 35, that it does not go the same direction as if you were on Hwy 40. Hello Ft Payne! Presumption is not a good alternative to faith! Faith is based on an understanding of facts whereas presumption is always based assumption. I may never get across the Alabama State line into Georgia. I assumed I was going north on Hwy 11 but 10 miles later I realized the facts were I was going south on Hwy 11. So, I had to retrace 10 miles to get back to where I was when I started out to go north on Hwy 11 because I was 15 miles south of Hwy 40 due to being on Hwy 35 rather than Hwy 40. Did you get all of that? If not, you may never make it across the Alabama State line into Georgia! I began to question my impeccable G P S internal-directionality system as having gone belly-up! I did see a magnificent Red Hereford bull in a field on the left as I started back north on Hwy 11. There was also a fine looking black Jackass in the field. One of the best looking black Jackass s I have ever seen! I momentarily identified with the Jackass and wondered if he could tell me how I could get across the Alabama State line into Georgia. Although I never get lost, because I m always right where I am, I do stop and ask directions on occasion. I did stop at an Auto-Parts store to ask directions to Amicalola State Park. The fellow thought for a moment and then smiled and said: I don t think you can get there from here. Well, now it is dark and raining! It is a sure sign of a great adventure, if I can ever find Georgia. 3 May 5 th 2007 Saturday Morning - After seemingly a day and a half of driving, I finally stopped and spent the night in Calhoun Georgia. My belly is full of my favorite breakfast of cheese omelet, grits, bacon and hot coffee and so I m good to go. It is raining a little, an irrefutable sign of a good day and a great adventure if I can find Hwy 136 and Amicalola State Park. It makes me a little nervous when the Hwy you re on doesn t have a number on it and you can t find it on the map. A car just went by me with a Florida car tag and I thought, now is that a Florida car in Georgia or did I finally end up in Florida? I m not turning around for nothin. I m going straight to Amicalola State Park! If you are ever looking for Hwy 53, it runs out of Fairmont Georgia straight into Pickens County, which I thought was in middle Alabama, west of Tuscaloosa Alabama. Hwy 53 does take you to Hwy 136; just turn left at the Hinton Milling Co. The Hinton Milling Co. has baby rabbits and chicks for sale and is a wonderful interesting looking place but I am bent on getting to Amicalola State Park. Hwy 136 takes you over to Talking Rock and from there you can throw a rock and hit Amicalola State Park. Actually, there are two roads that turn left at the Hinton Milling Co. The first road is paved and crosses a pretty creek and ends up on the backside of nowhere. I did stop and ask for some directions from a man and woman working out in their yard. They had a longhaired black dog about the size of a small pony, which became highly vocal about my stopping. Being well educated in dog-bark, I made an immediate decision to not get out of the car! The lady came over to my open car window and told me she could not hear, so she was reading my lips about my question about where was Hwy 136. Have you ever tried to talk to someone that talked liked they had a mouth full of peanut butter? The man was quick to tell me he couldn t hear either but he was kind to tell me where Hwy 136 was, but I think he must of also been eating peanut butter. I smiled and thanked them for their help and left without a clue of where was Hwy 136. I did distinctly feel though that their marriage had been made in heaven! Be sure to take the second road to the left to get to Hwy 136. It s about 25 yards past the first road that goes to the left at the Hinton Milling Co. They have some nice looking tomato plants for sale about 18 inches high. I walked into the Amicalola State Park Visitors Center and met two lovely blond Park Rangers, Dana Spangler and Christy Pondley in the gift shop. I told them all about what I was doing and they thought it was great. They both signed my journal: Dana said; loved your playing it was the bright spot in our day and Christy said; what a wonderful gift you are sharing with us. I played O Susanna, Danny Boy and I Got a Pig at Home in a Pen. They both danced until they were breathless. I got my picture taken with them! Driving up Hwy 53 was up and down some beautiful mountains which included clouds, fog and 53 degrees with visibility about a hundred yards. I m Leaving Amicalola State Park and driving around the mountain to drive up to Springer Mountain. It is an 8- mile hike up a steep Trail from Amicalola State Park to Springer Mountain, where the 4 Appalachian Trail actually begins. I drove through about a half a dozen big apple orchard operations on the way to Springer Mountain. Springer Mountain is 6.2 miles off the main road. The road is a rough gravel road similar to a washboard that takes you up such a steep grade that you can only drive about 5 or 10 miles per-hour. There are a lot of clouds and fog, again with the visibility about 100 yards. There were about a dozen cars in the parking area where a number of people were evidently doing a day hike. There was not a soul in sight. So I played; Rose of Al-la-bamy, She s a Flower from the Fields of Alabama, Tennessee Waltz and Pans of Biscuits. The mountain air was cool and clean and all of the trees were applauding vigorously with their new spring leaves! Leaving Springer Mountain I stopped at the Toccoa Wilderness Outpost, which is a Deli-Pizza place on Aska Road and told Leslie Perenich all about what I was doing. Leslie signed my journal. She was a pleasant young woman and was kind to allow me to play a few tunes there in the Toccoa Wilderness Outpost. I played; Uncle Joe, O Susanna, Pans of Biscuits, The Old Country Church and The Arkansas Traveler. As I was driving on down the road I passed the Toccoa Riverside Restaurant and since it was about Supper Time, I stopped and walked in and asked them if they had any music going on for the evening. They said yes and told me two old fellows; Roy Neal and Dale Bryant were playing in the back. I told them all about what I was doing and they were kind to invite me to sit in with them and play a spell. I played; Old Joe Clark, I Got a Pig at Home in the Pen, Keep my Skillet Good and Greasy, Auctioneer song, The Arkansas Traveler and Will the Circle be Unbroken. They both signed my journal and wished me luck, that they were there every Saturday night and that I could stop by anytime I was up their way and sit in with them. I stopped in Blue Ridge Georgia to get some gas and then headed up Hwy 76 toward Blairsville Georgia and then on up to Standing Indian Campground on Hwy 64. It was dark-thirty, foggy and about 55 degrees. It was about 11pm and so I made an executive decision to call it a day and drive over to Murphy North Carolina to catch a motel and crash for the night. It needs to be noted that it is best to start looking for a campground before sunset or at least when you have more than 50 yards of visibility like that night up at Standing Indian Campground. May 6 th 2007 Sunday morning - I walked out of the motel room to see a beautiful blond 15-month-old little girl toddlering along wide open barefooted toward me with her grandmother close behind. I told the grandmother all about what I was doing and then broke out my Autoharp and played some of my best songs for 15-month-old s. I played; Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Itsy Bitsy Spider, and You are my Sunshine. She must have liked it; she was kicking her foot and just a-goin. I changed out a broken string on my Autoharp there in the lobby of the Days Inn Motel and told the desk clerk, Crystal Lowdermilk from Murphy N C, all about what I was doing. I played The Old Spinning Wheel, She s a Flower from the Fields of Alabama, and Uncle Joe for Crystal. Crystal signed my journal and wished me well on my venture. She told me I ought to go down to the Fosters Flea market, that there was a jam going on down there. 5 There was an interesting musical group in the J & B Produce Area. The group included a pretty woman electric bass player and a couple of fellows on the backside of being young. I told them who I was and all about what I was doing and they were kind to invite me to sit in with them and play for a while. It was a lot of fun and I played with them for about an hour. I played, Bile that Cabbage Down, I Got a Pig at Home in a Pen, Old Spinning Wheel, and The Auctioneer Song. They were kind to invite me back any time I was up their way. Someone had a booth roasting ears of corn. I paced myself and ate two of the best-roasted ears of corn I ve ever eaten! Being in Murphy N C, I had to drive over to the Court House Square. Annie Morgan, a poor young evangelist girl, was camping out on the Court House Square with her family, much to the distress of the fine citizens, about John Jacob Niles, a singer, song-writer and song collector for 50 years, heard young Annie Morgan singing an old Irish folk melody, collected it and published it in It was that wonderful old Irish folk tune: I Wonder as I Wander out under the sky how Jesus the Savior was come here to die While playing a few tunes on the Court House steps I met Tripper James. (Trail Name) I spent at least an hour visiting with him. He is hiking the Trail and he signed my journal. He said: Very good man and a great talk. He is studying History, Religion and Art. I played: I Wonder as I Wander, Be Thou my Vision, The Rose of Al-la-bamy. This afternoon I stopped at the Nantahala Outdoor Center. It is a wonderful shop with everything you need for hiking or rafting the beautiful Nantahala River. The Trail crosses the road at that point. I walked up the Trail going south, took a picture and played, Rose of Al-la-bamy, Soldiers Joy, and She s a Flower from the Fields of Alabama. Then I walked up the Trail where it starts north, took a picture and played O Susanna, Old Country Church, and Angel Band. I walked over to the Rivers End Restaurant and the manager said it was ok for me to play on the entryway porch of the restaurant. I have eaten there several times over the past twenty years or so. It is a great looking place and they have terrific food. I played for about an hour and a half and played most of the main songs on my song list. I had a rush on my C D s and sold three and got three dollars in tips. I am on a virtual roll! I met Nature Boy (Trail name) and told him all about what I was doing. He was kind to sign my journal. Nature Boy said: stopped by for some good food and heard some good music. The waitress, Crystal, came out and took our picture. Ron, the manager came out and told me any time I was back up that way to stop by and play again. He said, next time come inside and play! Nature Boy and I had a fun visit and then we were off on our separate ways. Crystal told me about a campground across the road, The Lost Mine Campground. It was 2.6 miles and four small bridges down a side road. It was exactly what I was looking for; pretty, neat, and simple! As I was checking in, I met two fine young men who are cousins and are from the Mississippi Delta. They were camping out and looking for a summer job as river guides on the Nantahala River. Casey said he had a broken relationship with a girlfriend, which is an excellent reason to leave the Mississippi Delta 6 and come to North Carolina for a job as a river guide. I told Casey it was well-invested time and that he would have great memories and stories to tell the rest of his life. Casey and I jammed for a while around their campfire. He had a six-string Ovation guitar and was playing some fine Mississippi Delta Blues licks and I was frailing along with him on my super fine Morgan Autoharp. We had a great time together playing, visiting and knocking the head off a few brews. I played The Midnight Special, John Henry, and The Little Auctioneer. Casey and his cousin Roscoe both signed my journal before I crashed for the night. Roscoe said: living for a few months in our tent with bare necessities. Casey said: here from the Mississippi Delta playin the blues for a couple months and campin
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