Sunday, March 21, 2010

It was informal and it was fun

By R.D. Hohenfeldt
Managing Editor
What better way is there to start a bluegrass concert series than to find a group of friends who like to get together and play and sing old songs, put them in front of a country church congregation and turn them loose?
That's how Macedonia Baptist Church began its season of monthly bluegrass offerings tonight when Harold Rowden and Friends took the stage.
Rowden told me years ago in an interview that he started playing music back in the early Fifties, shortly after Bill Monroe began playing. With that amount of experience behind him, Rowden is a solid and respected fixture in the local bluegrass jam sessions. For years he had a family band, The Rowden Review, that recorded.
For tonight's concert, Rowden assembled a group of his jam session partners and they played an hour's worth of good ole-fashioned gospel songs.
In addition to Rowden on rhythm guitar, the group comprised Fred Allison, guitar; J.D. Fritchey, mandolin; Cecil Goforth, resophonic guitar and harmonica; Lonnie Goforth, banjo and guitar; Jerry Rollins, guitar, John Perdue, fiddle, and the Reverend David Scudder, pastor of the church, on stand-up bass.
A little past midway through the concert, Jimmie Allison, flatpicker and vocalist, showed up.
They sang songs like, "When They Ring Those Golden Bells," "I Heard My Mother Call My Name in Prayer," "Come and Dine," "Family Bible," "Hallelujah, I'm Ready."
Highlights for me were "Uncloudy Day," an instrumental by the Goforth brothers on banjo and harmonica; the great tenor singing of Fritchey on several songs and the closing a capella number, "O, Lord, Don't Leave Me Here."
But every song was a gem. Rowden conducted the concert like a jam session, giving each of his friends chances to sing throughout the hourlong performance. It was informal and it was fun.
The next concert will be at 6 p.m. April 18 with Bob Hammonds and Wildwood. The concert is free; an offering will be taken. A dessert fellowship will follow the music.
To get to the church house, go north of Rolla on Highway 63 for 5 miles from the interstate, then turn right on Old Highway 63 at the rock quarry and go a couple of miles. You'll see the church house on the right.

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