Sunday, November 27, 2016

NOVEMBER 24, 2016
       MOUNTAIN VIEW, ARKANSAS, IS SPECIAL at just about any time of year. At festival and holiday time, she really shows off! If you have been there for Bean Fest or the Mountain View Bluegrass Festivals, then you know what it means for the little mountain town to strut her stuff, whether it is the beauty of springtime or Mother Nature's blazing fall colors.
       Thanksgiving in Mountain View means that the Ozark Folk Center throws a giant-size dinner with all the trimmings. Every meat, vegetable, salad, and bread you could imagine! The desserts come in countless flavors and unending supply. The Skillet Restaurant is totally prepared for the hungry travelers, and it fills quickly. The waiting crowd spreads to the outdoors, where even more people listen for their names to be called to come in and be seated. Somehow it all works and eventually everyone is seated and served. It's all buffet-style, and the efficient waitresses serve the guest's requested beverage. The Skillet handles the process in two four-hour seatings that are about thirty minutes apart. One could eat early or later in the day.
       Following a huge and satisfying meal, families can tour the arts and crafts areas at the Folk Center or take a walk around the downtown area to let the meal settle a bit. Christmas lights are up around the charming little square in town. It's a 'Norman Rockwell' kind of a place and time. When the last hungry guests are served their meals, the Folk Center has a lovely evening concert in the White Oak Theater just across the driveway from the Skillet.
       It has become a wonderful tradition for the manager of the White Oak Theater, Daren Dortin, to arrange for Pam Setser and her good friend Joni Bishop to sing and play gospel and favorite Christmas songs to top off a splendid day with family and friends.
Pam Setser, guitar and vocals
Joni Bishop, guitar and vocals
       Pam Setser is a well-known local artist who sings, writes songs and plays a variety of acoustic instruments: guitar, mountain dulcimer, and the very popular spoons. Folks love to see her wear out those spoons! Pam began performing with her family's band, the Simmons Family. She also performs with the Leatherwoods, Apple Setser and Rounds, and with other artists like the fine fiddler Tim Crouch. At a recent Mountain View Bluegrass Festival, Pam appeared as a guest artist with her friends Buck, Sharon, and Cheryl, The Whites. It was amazing!
       Joni Bishop is an artist who draws, paints, and creates unusual stringed instruments out of whatever is at hand--cigar box, tin can, lid from the tin can, and whatever else is within reach. In addition to her talents in the visual arts, Joni sings, writes songs, and plays guitar, mountain dulcimer, and hand-made cigar box banjo. Joni is originally from Wisconsin; however, she now calls Nashville, TN, home. Her parents came to America from Latvia, and Joni sings her songs in both English and Latvian. Joni's songs sung in Latvian are completely charming!
Pam on dulcimer and vocals - Joni on guitar and vocals
       Pam and Joni performed on this Thanksgiving evening by singing separately, alternating first one and then the other. They also sang together in such lovely harmony. Here are the songs they chose to sing to get the audience into a holiday mood:
     Wayfaring Stranger; 12 Gates to the City; Beulah Land; Grandma's Garden; Unclouded Day; Christmas Wishes; Toys; I Saw the Light; I'll Fly Away; I'll Be Home for Christmas; Soul Cake--God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen; Blessed Assurance; Will the Circle Be Unbroken; Swing Low, Sweet Chariot; Endless Christmas; Little Drummer Boy; Walkin' in a Winter Wonderland; Mary Had a Baby, My Lord; Walkin' in Jerusalem; Silent Night (English, Latvian, then in tandem with both languages); and We Wish You a 'Happy Thanksgiving' to the tune of We Wish You a Merry Christmas. The audience was spellbound. Most audience members visited with these two friendly artists after the concert.
Joni (left) and Pam (right) sharing a moment
with fans after the concert
       The concert was the perfect way to end an otherwise perfect Thanksgiving Day in Mountain View, Arkansas. This writer is grateful for the friends who traveled with me and for the friends who shared their day with us by performing after Thanksgiving dinner. Thanks, Pam! Thanks, Joni!
       Each artist has CDs and other items for sale at her website. For further information about the artists, the Ozark Folk Center, and Mountain View, AR, please visit the following websites:
Pam Setser
Joni Bishop
Ozark Folk Center State Park
Mountain View, Arkansas
Happy Holidays!
Pick away!

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