Joseph E Bird

Let's talk about reading, writing and the arts.


Mountain Stage

hot club of cowtown

a little bluesy music for the cold, wintry night.

the fiddle player…she’s good.

Strike the match.

It’s a cold, rainy day. Perfect for the blues.

But wait.

Even if you’re not into the blues, check out this video from Mountain Stage a few years ago.  Mark O’Conner and friends with something special. It starts out with what you might expect (that is, if your expectations include playing the blues on a fiddle) but around the 5:30 mark, O’Conner really gets warmed up.  All three of these guys are really good, but O’Conner lights it on fire.

Don’t skip ahead. You need the first 5:30 to set the stage.

Yeah. Good birthday.


lipton 1 for web

Perfect evening for eating on the front porch at Lola’s.  Michael Lipton, longtime member of the Mountain Stage band, was there to provide cool guitar musical stylings for my birthday. Scrap the for my birthday partHe would have been there anyway. Still, it all came together for a nice night.

Now I’m off to watch for satellites from zero gravity.

Night all.

Do you whoop?

Or woo?

As in “woo, woo, woo, woo!!!”

Do you whistle?

Not the Andy Griffith theme song, but the two-fingers in the mouth shreaking whistle of appreciation.

I was listening to Mountain Stage this evening and as one of the acts finished, the applause was enthusiastic. And at shows like Mountain Stage, there are always whoopers.  And whistlers.

Who are these whoopers?

Are they so enthused about the music that they just can’t contain themselves?

I love music, but I’ve never had the urge to whoop or whistle.

Are they plants? Designated whoopers and whistlers to generate excitement in the audience?

Maybe I’m just too reserved. Maybe they’re people really enjoying life.

If you are a whooper, please tell me.


Ben Sollee

I heard this guy on a Mountain Stage broadcast tonight. I was fortunate to grow up listening to my sister play the cello and I’ve always been partial to cello music.  This guy does it a little differently.  Enjoy the show.

A story in song.

A story is told.  A song is sung.

Darrell Scott on Mountain Stage.

Joe Dobbs


When was the last time you enjoyed a funeral? I did last night, at the funeral of Joe Dobbs.

I arrived ten minutes before the service was supposed to start. Ron Sowell, the leader of the Mountain Stage band, was front and center with his guitar, singing a melancholy spiritual. At one point the song morphed into Amazing Grace, and everybody joined in.

What else do you need to know?

Joe Dobbs was the owner of Fret n Fiddle, a music store in my small little town of St. Albans, West Virginia, that attracted real musicians as well as rank amateurs like me. The kind of store where honest-to-goodness jam sessions take place.  I didn’t really know Joe.  My wife bought my guitar there years ago and I would stop in every so often to look around.  I was too intimidated to pick up a guitar when Joe was around; too cheap to buy one when he wasn’t.

A couple of months ago my wife said she wanted to learn an instrument. She decided on the violin and we went down to Fret n Fiddle.  Joe was there. He was busy repairing an instrument and let us browse.  We found a reasonably priced violin and as we walked to the counter, I asked a dumb question.  “Do you think she can learn to play the fiddle?”  Joe’s answer, “Of course she can. I sell fiddles.”

I didn’t know his whole story, but his obituary filled in a lot of the blanks. The funeral even more.  As tends to be true with musicians, Joe Dobbs lived a colorful life.

After Ron Sowell finished, one musician after another came in from the make-shift “green room” and sang.  After each one the audience – yes, we were an audience – applauded.  A woman with a strong and unique voice led us in an a capella version of I’ll Fly Away.  Twenty minutes later all the musicians returned, and led by Jim Snyder, sang Will the Circle Be Unbroken, complete with guitar, dobro, harmonica, autoharp, mandolin, and drum solos.  A true musicians’ send-off.

After that, friends and family told stories of Joe.  Great stories.  Unexpected stories.  Again, I didn’t know Joe, but he would have loved it, I’m sure. Who wouldn’t?  Air Force Chaplain Matt Lanham, a one-time student of Joe’s and former employee at the store, gave a beautiful benediction.

And then one last song.

In maybe Joe’s last surprise, he had revealed that one of his favorite songs was not a bluegrass standard, but Louis Armstrong’s classic, What a Wonderful World.

A fitting end to a wonderful tribute.

Footnote:  I borrowed the photograph from Joe’s obituary.  I’m sure I’m violating copyright laws and I don’t do that lightly.  I would rather ask permission and give credit but I don’t know the photographer.  But you had to see Joe.

Blog at

Up ↑