June 21, 2011 – Sundown brings the heat of the day to a tolerable simmer. The light is soft and the hard edges begin to fade away as we cool off in the muddy flow of the Eno River on this, the longest day of the year. There’s music, seemingly from every direction. Young and old are playing together, circled up in clumps around the yard with spoons and banjos and jugs. Their feet are tapping in different rhythms, but all of them point inward as laughs go up at the last improvised verse of Cluck Old Hen. One of the fiddle players asks, “How ’bout a melody? Or we can keep on the old time up-tempo for another.” The women with the washboard cues in with a vote for up-tempo and everyone falls back in, glad to be playing something. I get the feeling they wish it could go on forever. It’s still light at 9:30 PM.
High above the group playing out on the back porch is a glowing star, fashioned from old holiday lights. If the car’s lined up out front didn’t give it away, this is The Spot, according to the star. Rob, the Merry Prankster, River Raker and Soul Shaker lies prone on the surface of the river running off the backside of his yard. Soon Rob will stir and tend to the unlit torches that ring this swimming hole to encourage the shy to join in. But for now, he’s on his back, eyes closed, floating on the water. A white puffy flower loosens from behind his ear and moves slowly downstream. Summer is here once again.
One group, composed of rogue elements from the wild-haired Nee Ningy Band, seemed to be enraptured by a rendition of “Dixie” near the river. I was entranced with a woman working over the washboard with vigor. I felt that only motion and sound could suffice in approximating the experience. Though, while rolling on video, I couldn’t help but press the shutter when the banjo player rubbed his chin.