Dem Bones Dem Bones

BONES FEST VI
in Review

BF^ Montage

SUMMARY BY EV COWETT

The sounds of the bones and their accompanied music are still ringing in my ears. The three-day event at Guilford College with more than 50 bones players and many guests will long be remembered. Starting Friday night with a simple logo nametag, logo T-shirt, Fingers to the Bone Program, good food and drink at a bones jam session got everyone off to a great start.

Guilford College our site host catered to our every need. The beautiful grounds and excellent facilities for lodging, meals and meetings were wonderful and the Joe Bryan Jr. Auditorium with its excellent acoustics and seating arrangement were "out of this world" (a real planetarium). The friendship exemplified by Rebecca and James of the staff of this Quaker College will not be forgotten. (See attached montage by Nick Worth)

Last but not least were the Banjo Bandits, a Greensboro real-live traditional old-time band were great. The principals, Ivy Lindley and Greg Speas became part of the Rhythm Bones Society throughout the week. (Their CD Aint Got No Use is available through Little Rebel Records) The only difference between BF VI and earlier Fests was the quality of bones play. As we get older we get better, or we may have actually practiced before coming to the Fest. I for one was impressed.

Many of the Charter members were present including the original six Cowetts (NC) plus two additions, Rioux and Ramsey ages 6 and 8. Mr. Bones Cahill (GA) wore a new costume depicting Uncle Sam and was impressive. Joe Birl (PA) is improving with age (86) and introduced his new bones collection (wood this time). His play and story telling are better than ever. Vivian Cox (IN) was like a schoolgirl again playing those old Ragtime tunes. Next year we will insist upon her "black light" performance which she does at the cabaret where she works. Russ Myers (VA) although suffering from health problems showed us that he can still change the pitch as well as before. Sally and Terry Carroll (VA) continue to improve their play. Spike Bones Muhrer (MO) was the showman of old with a new CD. If you have not listened to Bones Meets Jazz by Spike Bones 2002 you are missing something very special. I could not believe my ears. This CD could put Jazz and Bones Playing on the map again.

Parker Waite (ME) still can play a hip-hop beat and Steve Wixson (TN) was doing new and unusual things, as usual.

Old standbys such as Walt Watkins (TX) who I declared most improved player, Don DeCamp (IA), the "Tiger Woods" of Bones, John Davis (VA) and William Kear (VA), both two-handed players now, Jim Nelson (NH) from the underground, Jerry Mescher (IA) and sister Bernie Worrell (FL) were outstanding together and Mike Ballard (CA) bringing back that California touch. And don't forget Gil Hibben (KY); host for BFVII doing the Latin beat.

Although I am nostalgic about the past it was the new bones players that I met that really turned me on. Dan Griffin (the rocker from CT), Mary and Frank Sweet(FL) doing old-time music in costume, Hank Tennenbaum (VA) (where have you been with those quiet sounds?) Jonathan Danforth (MA) (fiddle, vocals and new web page master), Jeff Newman (TX) (a copy of Don DeCamp), Karen Singleton (NC) doing bones and clogging and Danny Aldridge (NC) who thought he was holding the bones the wrong way. Mike Hannan (TN), Mike Passerotti (OH) with the sound machine, and Floyd Breedan (OH) hope you are feeling better, were all great and enjoyed by everyone.

For those of you that I missed or those that I have not named who elected to jam with the group rather than play solo, thank you for coming. You helped make this Fest so wonderful. Next year we hope to see you on stage.

The banquet without speeches went over fairly well and we stayed more or less on schedule. Steve Wixson, Martha Cowett and Ev Cowett each received the Rhythm Bones Society Meritorious Service Award while Russ Myers was designated FELLOW of the society. Congratulations to all, and thank you. This was followed by a tribute to Freeman Davis, better known as "Brother Bones", in honor of the 100th anniversary of his birth.

During the membership meeting on Saturday officers and board members were elected for the fiscal year 2002-2003. They are:

  • Ev Cowett - Executive Director
  • Steve Brown - Assistant Director
  • Steve Wixson - Secretary /Treasurer
  • Sally Carroll - Board Member
  • Gil Hibben - Board Member
  • Mel Mercier - Board Member
  • Jerry Mescher - Board Member
Gil Hibben will host Bones Fest VII in Louisville, KY on July 26, 2003. Mark your calendars for the best Fest yet.

Special thanks are extended to my family for bringing this event together. Martha for nametags and registration, Tom for the printed program, Al for T-shirts and MC activities, Dan for CDs, tapes and sound system, Val for food and beverages and John and the Cowett spouses for all of their support before and during the Fest. Without everyone playing a part nothing would have happened.

A special thanks also goes to Steve Wixson for all of his help during the year and the special Brother Bones (Freeman Davis) event and birthday cake. Steve and Dan Cowett, while hiding in the auditorium control room all day, recorded a sound tract of the Fest, which is outstanding. Steve has titled it Bones Fest VI Live. We don't know exactly what we are going to do with it yet but all that have heard it were impressed.
May your bones be with you, Ev Cowett
The composite picture at the top of the page was put together by Nick Worth, who took many photos at the Fest. Can you name every bones player? Answers here!!

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