Just in time for Christmas.
This is a new CD that captures the live music and discussion of tunes that Stephen Wade and Alan Jabbour played at a noontime concert at the Library of Congress in 1998.
Stephen’s liner notes give the background, and speak with enthusiasm to the wonder, the spectacle, and the energy of Alan Jabbour playing fiddle.
The liner notes capture the intensity of that friendship, fueled by years of trading tunes, decades of motivated and focused sharing of their mutual love for the hunt for the great stories behind the tunes and tune makers of traditional music.
I was lucky enough to witness one brief example of that intensity.
In August 2016, I visited Alan for one of several long interviews for a book project on Tommy Thompson – a series of visits during which Alan spoke of the collaboration with Tommy and Bobbie Thompson, and Bertram Levy, that led to the Hollow Rock String Band.
I had arranged to meet Stephen Wade for lunch after our interview, and we decided that there would be much sense to convening at Alan’s before we headed to a nearby restaurant. So, with impeccable timing, toward the end of my interview with Alan, Stephen arrived at the Jabbour home.
He had not seen Alan in a while – they were both very busy men, and Stephen’s recording, lecturing, writing work had taken him out of Washington, D.C. often enough that he simply hadn’t managed to cross paths with Alan for a stretch of time.
I sat in the presence of those two old friends, and watched the origins of their musical alliance and mutal commitment to the story of the music they treasured bubble up to a surface in their quiet conversation that exuded mutual affection.
They both reveled in recollections of concerts, of trading tunes in small and informal sessions together, of their archeological work on old time music and story.
I sat in the Jabbour living room, surrounded by books, posters of concerts past, and other musical memorabilia. From time to time, Stephen’s eye would fall on one of those posters – at least one memorialized an event featuring both Alan and Stephen – and they’d launch into a reverie about what that concert represented, the repertory it celebrated, and their fond memories of musical collaboration.
I haven’t heard the CD yet. I can only imagine how it harnesses Alan’s electricity and Stephen’s own zest for a good old song, and an accompanying story of song origins. I’m looking forward to that as a way of keeping my own memory of that moment in August when Alan and Stephen sat together and the musical memories flooded the room.