Over the Memorial Day weekend, I took my wife and son on a camping trip and met up with family at Scenic Mountain RV Park and Campground in Milledgeville, GA. While checking in on Friday afternoon, we discovered this campground has an outdoor theater and that Heart Pine Bluegrass Band would be performing Saturday night 6-8pm…nice bonus for me! Turns out the campground brings in different acts two or three times a month for their guests and locals who would like to attend.
Brought my folding chair, water bottles (it was very hot), and donned my Banjo Ben Clark cap. The rest of my family stayed in the camper with the air conditioning on full blast (did I mention it was very hot?) as they were all wilted from the activities of the day. None of the small crowd sat very close to the stage at first as we were all seeking shade from the surrounding trees, but I moved up closer just before the band took a break halfway through. These guys did a great job and had a good time along the way, and even cracked a few jokes. The banjo player asked if there was anyone present from Jones County, GA but I did not see any acknowledgments from the crowd.
During the break, the banjo player made a beeline towards me. I figured he either recognized the Banjo Ben Clark logo on my ball cap or realized how much I was enjoying the show. As he approached, I stood up and let him know that I have relatives in Jones County he might know. We shook hands and he introduced himself as Lynn Dugger. He glanced up at my ball cap and said he had heard of Banjo Ben Clark. I told him I had been taking banjo lessons from Ben for about a year and was enjoying it. He asked how his website worked and I gave him a brief description. He said he had started learning from a friend when he was thirteen years old (he’s now a retired engineer with a woodworking business/hobby). It’s easy to tell he’s quite at home with his prewar Gibson.
After the pleasantries, he asked about my relatives in Jones County. I rattled off a few names, and then he shook his head to let me know he didn’t recognize any of them. Then his gaze shifted towards the woman seated just a little behind me and to my right…he gave her a questioning look waited for her response. “No, dear. We don’t know any of them, but I’m sure I’ve met or taught some of their kin”, she said.
The band is fronted by Andy Adams, who plays guitar and provides the lead vocals (he’s a Presbyterian minister by day). Aubrey Nelson plays awesome dobro and sings baritone. The band has played together for over 10 years, and over time some of the personnel and instrumentation has changed. At this event, a new upright bass player joined in and they threw him a few curves…but he recovered nicely. The youngest member of the group was a fine fiddle player who kept us all tappin’ our toes, and was featured in several songs, including Cherokee Shuffle.
During the second set, they dedicated a song to me at Lynn’s request and he got to chance to stand in the spotlight and let us all hear what he could do with that banjo. I had a great time and was so glad to have stumbled upon the Heart Pine Bluegrass Band. In hindsight, I guess I may have initially overestimated his interest in speaking to me, but I did enjoy meeting Lynn and his wife, and hope to see them again some time.
They are booked again at the same venue June 22 and again in late July.