The three vans of musicians drove North from New Orleans to Tennessee until we reached the outskirts of Maury County. We talked and decided to stop by one place that tickled our funny bones. Maybe it wasn’t amusing for the people who ended up there, but the name always gave us a chuckle. I’m talking about the “Fly Cemetery.” We always laughed at the prospect of little fly funerals and their tiny little caskets. We imagined a little fly priest in little fly vestments presiding over the scene as they lowered the fly to the ground. “He left us all too soon.” “They should put tighter restrictions on fly swatters!” “He knew his shit!” etc.
The Road Less Traveled
We left the flies in peace as we continued to the farm. The countryside of flowers blooming on rolling hills dotted with clusters of trees was beautifully picturesque. The sky was a perfect blue with little scattered wisps of clouds. It was nice to be back in the country again. We drove down roads the county road crews hadn’t visited in a long time. We then crossed a makeshift bridge a local had made out of strategically placed logs because of a washed-out gulley. Driving up the hill, we finally arrived at the turn-off to Hap and Barbee’s farm.
As we drove up the path toward their house, we passed a little sign that said, “Welcome Home.” It felt like this was one of our homes. It was undoubtedly the first place we drove to as we vacated the Ashwood house. Now that we were trying to form this rag-tag group of musicians into something viable, we had returned.
Hap and Barbee’s Farm
Every time we arrived at their farm, the scene was virtually the same. Barbee and Hap were harvesting vegetables in the large garden on a gently sloping hill. They smiled and waved as they saw the parade of the three vans. Hap ushered us to the best places to park the vans as they walked down to greet us. After some quick introductions, they were eager to tour our group through their gardens. We then made our way higher up the hill at the end of the drive to the extraordinary house Hap had built.
We approached the steps to the main house. Below the house was Hap’s workshop stocked with various woods, exotic and otherwise. Here he built anything he needed. We saw how the open design took advantage of the natural elements as we entered the house. Wind and sun make it very comfortable year-round.
The house was mainly one massive room with a large wood-burning stove adjacent to the sunken living room. The kitchen and dining area were large enough to entertain a sizable group of people. Off the back of the house was a large deck. Hanging over the hill, high into the trees where birds chirped, a cool breeze washed over you even on the hottest days.
The farm features a spring-fed stream of some of the purest water in Tennessee. There is even a famous company that bottles and sells water fed from this same spring further down the mountain. Hap had dammed up the stream to create a small pool and invited us to take advantage of a dip during our visit.
I have done so on several occasions when visiting them and can tell you the water is so cold it takes your breath away. Hap also suggested we take a walk through the woods to view the abundant wildflowers throughout the forest around the house, which extended for miles. This land is a paradise tucked away in the Tennessee hills.
The Attempt of the Circle
After Barbee, with the help of Donna, whipped up a light lunch for us all, we pulled out the instruments and began to jam to each other’s songs. We also tried to see if we could come up with something new. Some of us were a little more flexible than others in our musical flavorings.
Heather had a beautiful voice and tended to have that ‘west coast singer songwriter’ thing down. “Classico” was classically trained on the guitar playing Bach and other composers of that genre. Kimmy had a lovely tone on the violin/fiddle, pulling reels and jigs and improvisational jamming. I was plunking away blues and rock riffs on Miss Guitara, trying to fit in wherever I could.
We discussed what we wanted to do with the music and how we could approach bringing it to become a show, a band. We all had considered the name “Perfect Circle.” I thought it was far from a circle and much closer to a square. Individually, we could bring some exciting moments, but the pull in opposing directions was challenging to tame. We all took a break and sat on the back porch, watching birds and listening to the sounds of the forest and the splash of the small spring-fed waterfall.
The Collapse of a Circle
Heather was the least happy with the group as she had already focused on her solo career. She had written some beautiful songs which she performed. Heather didn’t need a group to back her. For this reason, after a day or two, she thanked Hap and Barbee for their hospitality, wished us all well, and drove off to fulfill her dream. We never saw or heard of her again. “Classico,” whose name I never knew, caught a ride out with Heather. Kimmy and Matt stuck around for a while but also figured it was time to head back to her stomping grounds in the North West.
Soon, it was just Hap and Barbee and Donna and me. We had another day of relaxation and decided to hit the road to Murfreesboro to regroup and decide what to do. I thought about perhaps recording some of the songs I wrote while traveling. We had a place or two where we could sell a few items to keep the gas tank and our tummies full.