By Zorina Barker
Scott Jamieson laughed at how his voice squeaked when he tried to hit the higher notes and said, “Barney, you give it a try.”
Barney Munger gave the a cappella part a run through and said with a little practice, he could make it work.
With that, Loose Gravel went on to another song to rehearse.
Last Sunday, Dick Martin, Jerry “Hoof” Sullivan, Barney Munger and Scott Jamieson of Loose Gravel gathered in Sullivan’s “spare living room” to warm-up for their performance this Friday evening at the Forks extension of Peninsula College. Only Spider Wright was missing from this practice, but considering he has been playing with these gentlemen for over a decade, he will be just fine.
The show this Friday is sponsored with a collaboration of Rainforest Council for the Arts and Peninsula College. The event is free and the community it invited to enjoy this West End bluegrass band.
Sullivan, Martin and Jamieson have been playing together for more than 30 years. Munger and Wright are the newcomers of 10 years.
“There has never even been a harsh word between us in all that 10 years,” said Martin.
It’s hard not to smile when watching this band, and even harder to sit still. There is no drum-driven backbeat in bluegrass, like there is in most fast paced, contemporary music, so the audience’s toes are actually tapping to the rhythmic playing of guitar and bass strings that provide the base of the music. Jamieson’s mandolin, Sullivan’s dobro and Munger’s banjo take turns leading.over the top of the rhythm.
Loose Gravel has a musical repertoire of “a couple of hundred tunes” according to Munger. He added, “It takes about a year to get a new tune down and ready to play.”
Tightening up harmonies is part of the practice. Sullivan’s baritone singing provides a floor for the other voices to gracefully dance on.
For Friday’s show, the band practiced songs they hadn’t played in many months though one could never tell it had been that long. Jaimeson said, “It’s amazing we remember them at all considering I can’t remember where I put my keys!”
Bluegrass is music known for improvisation, so each time a song is played, even by the same band and people, it’s unique. The audience can expect to hear renditions of “Walkin’ After Midnight,” “Forever Young,” and “Bending Blades” in the one and a half hour show.
Sue Shane of the Rainforest Council for the Arts said she is hoping Munger will intersperse a bit of bluegrass history among the songs.
As expected, Sullivan expressed no nervousness about the show Friday. He said, “This is home turf.”
The Loose Gravel performance is at the Forks extension of Peninsula College, Forks Avenue. The show starts at 7 p.m. and there is no entrance fee.
For more information, contact Deb Scannell at 360-374-3223 or [email protected]