SHEENA BARNETT: Cloggers appreciative of courteous musicians

By Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal

Butterflies fluttered in my belly a minute before my clogging group, the Country Cloggers, hit the stage at the Regional Rehabilitation Center’s bluegrass gospel fundraiser on Saturday.
I’ve clogged for most of my life, but I almost always get a flutter of worry and nerves right before we walk out, the curtain opens or the lights shine on us.
Maybe these flutters were because this was possibly the biggest crowd I’d ever been in front of as a clogger. Maybe it was because we were dancing two numbers with a live band – something I’d only done one other time before, with not-so-great results.
When I was a teenager, my clogging group performed at the Dixieland Jamboree in Corinth.
We had a great routine choreographed to a certain song, but it didn’t play. Instead, the band behind us played a song we didn’t know.
We froze, for a good five seconds or so, before bursting out into any choreography that we could remember.
It probably looked better than we thought it did, but it felt disastrous.
But for Saturday’s show, we knew going into it we were going to dance with a live band – so long as said live band, “Queen of Bluegrass” Rhonda Vincent and The Rage, would agree to perform two songs we’d selected.
My clogging group, instructors Dana Langley and Leah Doyle, and Nastya Alekseyenko, a Ukrainian exchange student who has mastered clogging in the short time she’s been here in the States, practiced with a YouTube video of Rhonda Vincent and The Rage performing “Rocky Top.”
We also worked out a “dueling cloggers” routine to “Dueling Banjos.”
We asked banjo player Aaron McDaris, who has also been a member of The Grascals, and renowned musician Josh Williams, both members of The Rage, to play those songs for us, and they agreed – and they worked with us on the routines before the show.
The performance was great.
Vincent herself was kind enough to sing “Rocky Top” for us.
Sure, I had a bellyful of butterflies before we performed, but it wasn’t so much that we were playing with a live band. Thanks to the incredibly gracious Rhonda Vincent, Josh Williams and Aaron McDaris and the rest of The Rage, I felt confident about our numbers.
I think it was that crowd that gave me butterflies.
Everywhere I turned, there were more people – many of whom were filming us with the cameras in their phones.
That sure didn’t happen at that Dixieland Jamboree back in the late 1990s – thank goodness.
Those cameras may have given me butterflies, but not those awesome musicians, whose graciousness was as timeless as the beautiful songs they performed.
Thanks, y’all.
Sheena Barnett writes a Tuesday column for The DailyJournal. Contact her at sheena.barnett@journalinc.com.