Appalachian Fair, Gray TN on August 17, 2001
Finally August 21st had arrived and, at high noon, I left work to go meet Mom (Helen Sue) and hit the road for Tennessee. Had a rather nice trip out to Gray. Traffic was pretty heavy and lots of traffic. After a short, unplanned detour (yes, I got lost), we found our hotel and checked in. Inquired about a friend of mine who was supposed to be staying there (Mary R.). The guy at the desk said he could tell me if she was there or not but nothing else. So he checked her name and said, "Yes she's here," then smiled and said, "just a few doors down from you." I didn't go knocking on everyone's doors though. Figured I'd meet up with her later. Settled our stuff in the room then headed for the fairgrounds.
Once we reached the parking lot, walked into the grounds to find out where the stage was located. It was pretty easy to find and could see people setting up the sound system on the stage. At this point, I wasn't close enough to tell who anyone was though. We decided to grab a quick bite to eat and, as we went looking, I saw some people who looked familiar. It was Evelyn Totty and Judy Trickett. I recognized them from their pictures, so we went over and introduced ourselves and visited for a few minutes.
Then here came Margie Sullivan and Margie Brodmerkle. We all chatted for a few then some headed to see where the entrances were for the reserved seats and to check out who was on stage. We went ahead and ate, then headed back toward the stage area. Lots of Fan Club members had arrived by then. Cindy Allred, Lisa Phillips, Clarence and Glenda Rummel, Mary and Dustin Runyan, and Gary and LaDonna Cable. I'm sure I'm probably missing someone but it was so great seeing everyone again. Just like someone else said, it's like a family reunion.
Shortly after we began talking with everyone, they opened the gates for the reserved seats so we headed on in to find our seats. LaDonna did good. We were seated in the fourth row right beside Gary and LaDonna. We looked up on stage and not only were the Rock-N-Roll Cowboys helping set up the equipment but so was Marty! He looked very relaxed and comfy in his long sleeved shirt and shorts. He saw everyone coming in to sit down and turned to wave before going off stage to get ready to do his thing!
After a ceremony honoring the 75th anniversary of the fair, the real show began!! The Cowboys hit the stage and Marty was soon to follow! They started out with "Hillbilly Highway" and kept on gettin' it from there. No way can I remember all the songs. Some included his tribute to Johnny Cash "Blue Train." He did a Carter Family song "Farther On," "Long Black Veil," "Honky Tonk Crowd," "The Whiskey Ain't Workin' Anymore," and one of my favorites that he does -- "Dark as a Dungeon." The crowd loved the show and you could tell they were all having the time of their lives.
Meet and Greet was done between the two shows. They let small amounts of people through at a time and we were in the second group to go through. Saw Brad back there. Talked with a few other fan club members, saw the young man Trey Hensley, back playing for Marty. Didn't really get to hear too much of his playing though. Too much excitement. Got an autograph and spoke with Marty for just a second then had to move on. Stopped to wait on my Mom, and Cindy and Lisa. As I waited, I saw Gregg and spoke with him for a moment. I was pleased that he remembered me as he has only met me once.
Then it was time to find our seats for show number two. This one started out great as well "Hillbilly Highway" was the start-off song for both shows. Some of the same songs were played both shows but that's fine with me! One of the other songs they did has already been mentioned -- "High on a Mountain Top." I too love the affect they have when they all gather around one microphone to sing the chorus and then slowly back away to end the song. Marty introduced Janette Carter who was sitting on the stage. I thought it was so cool that she came to see him play.
He also introduced the young man who had been playing for him backstage. He had impressed Marty so much that he invited him on stage. Marty said he was proof that real country music was still alive and well. He played and sang "Jimmy Brown the Newsboy" and what an awesome job. He hit everyone of those hard "runs" that are required to play that song and he'd only been playing for about 11 months. He got a standing ovation for his performance so Marty asked him to do another one. This time he played "Wildwood Flower." It just did my heart good to see and hear such a young fellow as that play and sing that well and doing bluegrass music!! You could tell that Marty was just as excited.
He came back for a final encore and they moved his mike to the runway, I was right up against the runway and about arms length or maybe a little further away. He played "Hobo's Prayer." I could see Evie on the other side of the stage and we both sang along. He then worked his way down the runway to shake hands and sign autographs. LaDonna handed him a stuffed dog that looked like Oscar Lee, I tried to get a picture of him with it, but all I got was a nice picture of his hand signing an autograph!
I forgot to mention that when he came on the stage for both encores he threw his towel into the audience and both times the person right in front of me caught it! Of course, I was very tickled for LaDonna.
So, thus ended another Marty Party, it was wonderful, but couldn't help but wonder when I'd get a chance to see another one, I hope it's soon!!
Review and photos by Serena Wimmer, Copper Hill, VA
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