Try something a little different
Over ten years ago I lived in a small community called Richmond, a town in Michigan. I was born and raised in Johnson City and now live in Gray but at the time I was living up there, and the one thing that stands out is how much there was to do during the summer months. They have townships, which have their own little festivals and events going on most all year long. Then I move back here and now I am on a quest to find interesting things to occupy my scarce free time and it has been proving to be a difficult task to undertake. And it was last week I found a gem of a spot. Actually for the last two weekends.
On July 10 I went to the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games which is where my heritage lies deep within the Celtic gene pool. It was a blast and I got to take my seven-year-old son Elijah and my friend Carmen Perry. All of us had a great time. However, the Saturday after was something to behold. I once again donned my kilt and headed out to the Renaissance Fair that was held at the moonshine distillery in Piney Flats.
Even though the fair is based on Celtic tradition, I felt a little foolish going in dressed in the kilt. But then I noticed someone dressed in red with a devil’s mask standing beside a buccaneer in the parking lot so my concern was quickly dispelled. Oh and then there were the fairies.
Over the course of the evening one could see all manners of costumes ranging from the extravagant to thrown together but all were great to behold. However, overall, it seemed quite small from anything I imagined from movies and TV. There was a center stage outside and tents lined the perimeter. I was hoping for more Scottish and Irish trinkets like what the Highland Games had but this sort of event was aimed differently. There was sword fights, knights in armor beating each other over the helmet with authentic swords, a king and queen, jesters, and musicians. I was hoping to see some jousting but the property was far too small for anything so grandiose. However, the music was what grabbed my attention right off the bat.
The opening musicians were by far the best of the acts presents that I witnessed. And one act in particular called crossjacks stands out. But one musician in my mind stands out — Dawn Cunningham, the fiddler for crossjacks. Now let me first say, I love the violin. It is my favorite instrument. I love the sounds, the feel. The curves holding it is like holding a beautiful woman in your arms, and when she sings it keeps you hypnotized till the very last note. Actually I started taking lessons several years ago from the school of music. It was then run by Scott Gould out of the Fort Henry Mall before they ran him and nearly all their best stores off. He died shortly thereafter and so I gave up playing Isabella (my volin). She now sits on a small table behind my desk. I just had trouble finding someone after Scott.
However, when I saw Dawn working her fingers over that instrument — well, it was in a word, mesmerizing. She had me captivated as soon as she pulled the bow across the strings. The lead singer was great — well, all of them were — but in my humble mind she was the standout performer. I followed them when they were moved to the indoors to the second stage to make room for the following act. I have seen a lot of violinists or fiddlers play — even having Charlie Daniels sign one of my fiddles — and I have to say she is right up there with them. I spoke with her a little before I left and she allowed me a couple of photos of her playing just for the column. Also, to no one’s surprise she also teaches and well, I guess I now know with whom I will be picking my lessons up with. Please enjoy one free audio review copy of 1954: The S.S.S Strikes (Noir Book 1), now available on Audible. Redeem the one-time use code below at https://www.audible.com/acx-promo