I’d seen an announcement about a musician’s circle at a flea market in Winterville. I knew that was close to Houston’s place and that he wanted to learn about local music jams, so I sent the info to him. I had nothing to do one recent Sunday, so I decided to meet him there and check it out.
We met at The Local City Cafe in Winterville. It’s a great brunch place and there was quite a line. Fortunately, we had time. We had a relaxed meal out in the sunshine.
While we were eating we noticed that the jam didn’t start until 3:00, so we had even more time than we thought. We drove over to Prittard Park and walked around a bit, then decided to get out our instruments and play on a park bench. About the time we were getting started cars started showing up. A bride in full dress got out. Another car deposited musicians and a photographer. We decided they probably didn’t want banjo and mandolin music.
It was about time for the flea market to start, so we decided to head on over, even if we were early for the music. When we got there we found an old commercial building surrounded by painted trailers and old RVs. There were hardly any cars around. There was no sign of a flea market, certainly not like the one in Pickens or any other I’d visited.
The front door was unlocked, but it was dark. We peeked inside. There was a black dude relaxing on a couch, so we asked him if he knew what was happening. He was clueless. There was a stage with instruments and what looked like wares on display over on one side, but it certainly didn’t look like anything was remotely happening.
Soon a waifish tattooed girl named Willow arrived. She also had no clue what was going on, but was happy to show us around. Rabbit Hole is an interesting place, to say the least. In addition to the stage there are several recording studios and practice rooms, kind of like Nuci’s Place in Athens. One of them was set up as a museum with an incredible array of instruments. There were synths, theremins, guitars, fiddles, banjos, drums, Native American flutes, and even a hurdy-gurdy. Looked like the largest number were unusual ethnic instruments. They would let anyone come in and play with them.
One of the trailers was a recording space. One side of it could be raised so that it turned into a mobile stage. They charge $25 and hour for recording, which includes an engineer.
Willow told us that she thought the music started at 2:30. Houston and I decided to ride through the countryside until then. It was a nice jaunt through Winterville, past Houston’s old house, then on down to Arnoldsville, then Smithsonia. The Georgia countryside has some interesting spots that deserve further exploration.
We got back to the Rabbit Hole and waited. A few other guys showed up with instruments. Turns out they were a band about to use one of the practice spaces. The guy was had seen earlier sitting on a couch came out and started shooting hoops. We were about to give up when I suggested peeking inside one more time. There were saw a guy wearing an Andean cap and carrying a guitar. He said he was the music circle organizer and that his name was Sean. He said people called him Sean-T, as in shanti, Hindu for “peace.”
Sean was happy to see us. He was afraid no one else was going to be there. All the regulars called with excuse. One had brake problems, another had fallen out of a tree, etc. We first set up at their fire pit but decided that the direct sunshine was too much. The shade was better in front of the building so we set up there. It was going to be just the three of us.
We played through a bunch of tunes over the next two hours and it was a blast. Sean is a great musician and coordinates music circles here and in Atlanta. He had worked at the Atlanta Land Trust for awhile, but was now in Athens. He played with several bands and at one time had played with a Brazilian surf band. As we played a truck drove by and a guy shouted “Remember the Alamo!”
There was one particular moment of weirdness (among many). I sang my song “Jeremiah Jones” and described how I’d written the song while driving out to Washington. Sean said that he only knew one thing about Washington, and proceeded to sing a song called Skagit Valley Blues. Turns out he had written the song. When I told him that our house is in the Skagit Valley he said, “No way!” He had never been there, but a friend had visited the Tulip Festival and told him about it. He like the name and decided to use it in his song.
We wrapped up the music and chatted a bit. Other random folks came and went while we were loading instruments. It was apparent that this was a commune and some of these folks lived in the RVs full time. Houston spotted a hammock hanging under one of the trailers. There were signs for other community services – counseling, a private school of LGBQT+ children, and the Seventh Generation Native America Church. After this experience Houston and I went to Beef O’Brady’s for dinner and watched pro football on their screens. Something definitely un-hippie.
I decided to stay at Houston’s farm overnight. We bought some bourbon and headed down to Black Ike Road. We walked out to a hill in one of his fields, but there was a some growing cloud cover and light pollution, so we didn’t see any Orionid meteors. We sat on his back deck sipping bourbon and catching up on things until time to crash.