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As ya'll know I started taking lessons back in May from a young man (Sam Gleaves) on his way to college and from him I connected with a young lady (Leigh Beamer) recording her first CD and had the pleasure of taking her portrait and designing her cover. ("Reflections of me" available at CD Baby)
I am now taking lessons with an old friend and experienced musician 'Jim Lloyd" at his barber shop in Rural Retreat, Va. This past Friday he held a 'Black Friday jam' at his barber shop and I was fortunate to be invited and brought along my camera. I think you can tell, from the image , what a warm and friendly group it was. As I sat there with my daughter listening to the old Appalachian music being played, by new friends, I realized how blessed I have been to meet these wonderful people during my journey of learning guitar, I leaned over to my daughter and whispered "Take this all in , as these young folks are carrying on the tradition of our mountain music and we are blessed to be here to witness it."
The young man with the shoulder length blonde hair is Sam, and the young girl to the left is Leigh. Jim has grey hair and is playing the fiddle. The elderly gentleman in the foreground is the son of the man who wrote many mountains classic's , such as "In the Pines"

Jim is now trying to teach me how to Travis Pick, as he knows how much I love the sound. Although I am having a real struggle picking it up, Jim continues to encourage me and remains patient no matter how small my progress.
As a single Mom, with a daughter in college, this opportunity to connect with others who share my passion for our Mountain music , has given me so much more than just a belief that I can learn guitar (although that is quite a gift) but the chance to connect and make new friends, during , what could have been the loneliest years of my life... That is priceless!

Tags: Virginia, appalachian, jam, lawson, susi

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Replies to This Discussion

This is so cool Susi !

I agree....It seems as though I've not managed to progress at all in ability or talent for the last year, but I have met so many amazing folks along my journey....

And as a side note.... I'm simply amazed at your talent with photography!

Thank you Mark! Hey, you hang in there too! My instructor told me it took him 3 years before he felt it coming together, so I guess we need to be patient. The hard part is not having anyone to practice with , as the people I know who play are too advanced and want to hang with others at their level. I hope we can come back next year at this time and talk about how far we have come! Best wishes!
Susi, you are one very talented lady. Back in the 1950s in high school I joined the Photography Club and developed an interest in photography. Of course the club owned all kinds of nice equipment and this was before the days of general color photography. After high school I worked my way through two years, Jan. 1961 - Dec. 1963, of community college and did not have the money to pursue my love of photography or my love of music. In January 1963 I enlisted in the Air Force, got married in 1968 when I left the service and we had two children. Photography and music were forgotten until I retired in June 2007. I felt I was too old to begin a new process of learning but a friend encouraged me to purchase a guitar after hearing of my life long desire to play a guitar. You are absolutely correct about this journey. There are days of disappointment when I feel I've hit a wall and then along comes a day with a thrilling breakthough. I can look back to the day I started this journey and see how far I've come. I try to learn something, no matter how trivial, each and every day. Hang in there and you'll soon be playing along with those you love to now sit and listen to.
Thank you so much for the encouragement Jesse! Yes, I was thinking how I want to be in that picture next year! I did know a few of the tunes they played, but could not change chords fast enough to keep up. I feel fortunate to have at least documented the event.
I'm due for a haircut. What's the address of the Barber Shop. I'd love to witness a jam like that. Very cool photo. Reminds me of a Norman Rockwell picture. I showed my girlfriend and told her I wish we had a place like that around here. It must be awesome learning guitar and living in a community where folks get together and play music. All you ever hear around our neck of the woods is football and the Packers.

Buy the way how long a drive to your town from Green Bay, WI.?


P.S. I'm almost done reading "The Guitar Man". Next is "Clapton's Guitar".
Hey Denny, you will love "Clapton's Guitar" Jim plays music often with Wayne Henderson and he is mentioned in the book as the 'barber' .. Rural Retreat, Va is a very small rural town in Wythe County , va. Closest town you may recognize is Roanoke or Bristol which is on either side.
I am sure there is a lot of music being played daily in Lloyd's barber shop as he teaches there every day, repairs and sells used instruments and sometimes cuts hair :) He is a character and such fun to be around.
If you come to the Galax fiddler convention next time ( I KNOW you have heard of that right?) you will have to come to Wytheville and I can introduce you to Jim. He has never met a stranger.
BTW, having my work compared to Rockwell is always an honor, thank you!
and yes, football is huge here as well, I shoot it for the local paper :)

Unbelievable photo! From a very selfish point of view, I kind of hope you photograph next year's jam instead of playing in it but something tells me that you are determined to join them.

Thank you Mike! I plan to do both! :)
Wow - this photo is so beautiful. You have incredible talent! So glad you are enjoying your journey. I have met some of my dearest friends because of the guitar. Be patient - you will learn to play everything you want to -- it just takes time and focused practice.

When you are working with the Travis Picking, try very hard not to play faster than you can think. You have to really think about the patterns. It is very much like multi-tasking or a better word is one my husband made up: multiplexing -- the brain has to think about a lot of things at the same time: the chord changes, the patterns, using the correct right hand fingers, keeping the rhythm, keeping the tempo. To help you stay slow and focused, use a metronome with one click for every movement. Then increase the metronome speed little by little. Try very hard to keep your mind focused on what you are doing and not on other things -- like the laundry list for the day. As you slowly go through the patterns thinking about every movement, you will input perfect muscle memory. Once the muscle memory is in; the speed will come quicker than you realize. Keep a chart of your progress and you will start to get really excited about it. Ten minutes practicing like this is more effective than an hour of unfocused, rushing through the music.

I have found with my students and with myself, that the biggest wall to success is practicing faster than we can think. We end up tripping all over ourselves, and the muscles just get totally confused.

My favorite resource book for Travis Picking is Mark Hansen's: "The Art of Contemporary Travis Picking". I have looked over loads and loads of Travis Picking books and this one comes out on top all the time. I highly recommend you pick this one up as a resource.

Thanks Donna, I actually have that book! I will have to spend some time reading it tonight and listening to the CD.
Yes,very hard to get the pattern to sound like the song at all when I am struggling so much, been at it almost 2 months and getting a little better. What is hard for me is that the chords are the ones that require such a stretch, ya know, C, G7 and god help me, F! I actually think this is a little too early in my journey to learn this, but my instructor says I can get it and he insist I keep at it. Trying to learn Freight TRain one step at a time.
I am going to take my video camera next week , so I can record Jim playing it and I think this will help me a lot to be able to play the lesson over and over so I can retain the info!
Thanks so much for your kind comment!
Hey Susie,
Boy what a trip it has been...I have met many, many people and had so many experiences that I would not have had had I not become a musician. I have played all over the place and back again and have nothing but great (or funny) memories of it all. I have made music with so many people and several times gotten so close to another musician by being in a band together for a few years that we actually came to know what the other was thinking and where they were going musically during a that is an experience! I have met a lot of drunks in my early days, and hecklers, and gushing women and angry husbands and boyfriends and club owners and booking agents and recoding engineers and studio owners and, oh yeah, guitar players! And living out of a suitcase and eating bad food and midnight coffee and donut shops...and playing from 9 to 1am and getting home at toddler son came into the bedroom about 6am one Sunday morning after a Saturday night gig I got in bed at 4am from, and lifted the covers off my head and announced very loudly into my forehead "I waked up, now you waked up!" It's been a ride that I wouldn't have missed for anything...and now I have just turned 55 I am still playing and gigging, maybe down to tow or three times a month instead of twice every weekend, but I am still loving it!
I have certainly loved this forum too and all the new virtual friends I have made here!

As to that Travis picking...I believe you have to think on what you are doing long enough to get the feel of it, but you will know you are there when you no longer have to think about it, it just happens, and then you can't explain it to anyone just becomes second nature. I would advise all "Newbies" to read that book "The Guitar Man," I know it was suggested to me by some wise person and I just loved it! Carry on! Edward
I love this Edward, you need to write a book yourself!!
I spent most of my younger years sketching portraits in bars, beaches and festivals and so have always been in the same sort of 'geography' as musicians , dated a few and sketched many and now taking pictures of them.. I love the company of other artist ya know? I think we really do think different and approach life from a different vantage point.
I went to the barber shop tonight and dropped off some of the prints from the jam. One of Jim's friends looked at the prints and said "It's amazing what you can do with Photoshop" and I felt like saying "It's amazing what you can do with a pick" ha!
Funny how other art forms always think it come easy to the other person...
I do have new respect for musicians now that I am taking lessons and see how intricate it all is.
I recorded Jim tonight travis picking, I think that will help me , to play it every day.
Thanks for the great post and yes, I include the buddies here in my blessings for sure!


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