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Defining events of The 1937 Flood, told in stories, photos, audios and videos
over the years!


A band that traces its beginnings back nearly a half century has many entries in its scrapbook. Here are some of the high and low watermarks of The Flood's drift through the decades.



The Second Wave
The 1990s

1991

Oct. 4-5, 1991: Ten years after the last of the Bowen Bashes — the weekend-long, semiannual music parties at which The Flood was born and nurtured — we had a reunion. Dave and Susie Peyton hosted the affair at their rural Cabell County home. We rented a tent with sides, tables, chairs and a porta-potty, and sent out the call for the pickers and their families to gather. We had a tub of ice and beer and soft drinks and lots of food (cold cuts and bread, veggies and dip, salsa and chips, pound cake and, of course, Pamela’s famous Bash favorites: her chocolate chip cookies. We built a bonfire outside the tent so people could stand or sit around it and stay warm (Appalachian weather in October is unpredictable) and still hear the music. Meanwhile, the musicians sat or stood around a kerosene heater inside the tent.

Not all the bash regulars could attend — over the decade since the last bash in 1981, people had moved in a lot of directions (geographically, emotionally, artistically and otherwise…) — but it was a good representation of the hippy fun that prompted The Flood spirit all those years ago, and the four original Floodster -- Dave, Rog, Stew and Charlie-- were on hand to dust off the old repetoire. (Rog liked to quote an old fellow he met one time, who would say, “Ahh, I see you play the old songs…”)

reunion

Meanwhile, Jackie Jadrnak, a beloved listener at almost of the original bashes and a photographer who had taken classic bash pictures over the years, got the prize for traveling the longest distance to the gathering. Jackie, who worked with the Bowens and Peytons the newspapers, had left Huntington for Columbus then moved on to New Mexico where she still lives today. Others traveled in from Florida and Indiana, Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio. We had a boom box set up so we could play old bash tapes during lapses in the music, but there were no lapses in the music over the two days of reunion.

One effect of that night of music and memories was to plant a seed in Charlie and Dave’s mind to, as the saying goes, get the old band back together. And in another five years or so, it would happen.

STORIES:

-- Reflections on a Frozen Reunion. During an interview on Joe's "Music from the Mountains" show in August 1997, David and Charlie remember a freezing cold reunion of old friends in front yard of the Peyton Place.

Oct. 29, 1991: Joe was featured on a West Virginia Public TV show, aired on this date and filmed in Beckley, WV, "An Evening with Joe Dobbs," being interviewed by Andy Ridenour. Here's the 30-minute show:

 


1992

Joe-1992June 9, 1992: For Huntington's Herald-Dispatch, Dave Peyton checked in with Joe Dobbs for his comments in a feature story about international trade -- especially with Japan -- in collectible old instruments.

"Hardly a day goes by," Dave wrote, "that the fax machine in his St. Albans, WV, shop doesn't grind out a message or two from instrument dealers and collectors in Japan, ordering stringed instruments that Dobbs offers for sale in the newsletter he mails worldwide." Click here read a .pdf of Peyton's story.

June 19-20, 1992: For the last time for all three of them together, Charlie, David and Rog played the folk festival at Glenville, WV.

1995

Dennis DobbsApril 18, 1995: Dennis Dobbs, Joe's little brother, briefly popped back into our lives in the spring of '95 and played a little part in the ultimate reuniting of the Family Flood.

In an email at the time to his cousin Kathy, Charlie told the story: “Monday night, out of the blue, I got a phone call from Dennis Dobbs, an old guitar-pickin pal who played with us too sometimes ... The Flood was a VERY loose organization; probably a doen guys played in the band at one time or another (our motto used to be, 'Wherever two or more gather in its name, that's The '37 Flood...') Well, I'd not seen Dennis since he and his wife went back to Texas in '81 or so. Dennis told me on the phone that he and his son ('little Chris?' 'Yep, just graduated from college.' 'Sheeeee!'") were in St. Albans visiting Joe and he was wondering if anyone still picked music.

"Well...! I drove up last night and, gawd, everybody was there. It was like old home week. Bill Hoke even drove in three hours from Abingdon, Va., picked for a few hours and then drove back."

The party was at Joe's Fret 'n Fiddle music store in downtown St. Albans. "Nobody brought guitars," Charlie said in the email. "We just took 'em down off the walls. What a hoot! It sure was good to see Dennis again."

Years later, Joe would acknowledge that it was that party -- along with another nine months later at Bob and Cathie Toothman's house in Ironton, Ohio -- that would inspire him to come back to picking with his old Flood compadres.

June 27, 1995:  Joe injured his shoulder in a car wreck in Kanawha County, WV. He survived ... and so did his favorite fiddle. In his 2012 autobiography, A Country Fiddler, Joe recounted the details of the accident.

1995-DianasWeddingJoe's daughter Diane, married Harold Johnson in the early summer of 1995 in Gallatin, TN, and Joe and other musicians played at the reception in her backyard, Joe playing a 200-year-old fiddle that he had received from an old gentleman named Lee Brill who had actually played that violin in the Armed Forces Orchestra in World World I. The fiddle was the star of that lovely afternoon as it passed from hand to hand among the players under Diane's maple trees, even being played by Tennessee fiddling legend Frazier Moss. The next morning, Joe got early and drove the 500 miles from Gallatin to Clarksburg,WV, to play at an Eckankar meeting there.

"Two days later," Joe wrote in his book, "on my return trip from Clarksburg, in the early hours of the morning, I lost control of my Dodge mini van in a construction area of I-79 near the Clendenin exit." The van hit some loose gravel in a construction area and rolled several times down the median between the northbound and southbound lanes. When it stopped rolling, the van landed on its wheels in the grass of the median."First, I checked to see if all my limbs worked. Having no broken bones or pain, I got out of the van and noticed the the violin case was lying in the southbound lane. I picked up the violin case and placed it on the top of the wrecked van just as a traveler stopped.

“’Are you OK?’ Asked the man as he got out of the car. I reported the accident on my cell phone. ‘I’m fine,’ I said. ‘And thanks for stopping.’ ‘After looking at your car, I don’t see how you walked away from that wreck. It appears to be totaled,’ he added. The Dodge mini van was certainly smashed. The side doors and the back doors were open. ‘Just lucky, I guess,’ I answered.

“After answering questions for the State Police, I saw my son Scott drive up. ‘Are you OK?’ he asked as he got out of his Bronco. ‘Look at the van, Dad. You could have been killed!’ he said, extremely agitated. He had been so frightened when he got the call that he left before getting dressed. He stood there beside the interstate in his pajamas.

“I sat in his truck and asked, ‘Why don’t you get my stuff out of the van. I know that it’s totaled. Don’t forget the violin case that I placed on the top. When I finally stopped, it was lying in the road.’

“On the way home, suddenly I was in so much pain that Scott took me to the Charleston Hospital where I spent the night. Later in the day, he came to the hospital to check on my condition. ‘You know, Dad, when I got home I opened the fiddle case. I knew it had been n thrown out on the road by the force of the wreck. But I can’t find a scratch on it. As a matter of face, it is still in tune.

“‘I just have to keep that fiddle,’ I said.”

And, of course, he did. He was still playing it when he started reuniting with his oldFlood family in next year. In fact, the June 1995 car wreck played an important role in that too. Joe’s shoulder pain continued, and one of the reasons he was eager to start playing again was as a kind of therapy. It turned out to be good for what ailed all of us too.

Sept. 29-30, 1995: Still grooving from of our “Bowen Bash Reunion” four years earlier, we were eager to have a re-do, and the Peytons — the hosts of the original reunion — again offer their beautiful Mount Union Road land as the venue, which was especially beautiful on this autumn weekend. Going into the 1995 bash-tete, we were all rather uneasy about it, since the previous two weekends werecold and rainy and just made for pneumonia, but the weather gods were with us this time. And so were the music gods. Rog and his brothers Ted and Mack came early and stayed late. Bill Hoke, our friend former Floodster from Virginia, stayed the weekend so he could attend both nights. Sure, it was a bit chilly, but David built a fire in the yard, making it quite cozy.

But the weekend wasn’t without sadness. As Charlie told his cousin Kathy in an email the next day, “We learned that Joe, our ‘house fiddler,’ was in a car wreck near Charleston recently. He wasn't seriously hurt. However, the van he was driving back to his store (he runs an internationally known music store in St. Albans) flipped six times and Joe was so bruised and battered (and, I'm sure, shaken) by the experience that he hasn't played his fiddle since. (Lot of shoulder and wrist pain, I understand). We all made a pact to stay in touch with him and get him back to the circle.”

Meanwhile, he added, “Pamela and the other Band Wives, as they've come to call themselves, have agreed that we all need to get together again real soon. The plan is to gather at Rog and Tammy's house in Mt. Sterling, Ky., some time before winter for a whole Saturday of picking. It's only about an hour and a half from here. … I'm excited about the possibility. It is so refreshing to get back with this people again after all these years. And we have reason to celebrate. Rog and Tammy used the party for their big announcement: they're going to have another baby, their fourth. I've never seen either of them look so good. So, despite red eyes and sore fingers -- and probably a little hoarseness (I've not said anything out loud yet, so I don't know about that!) -- I feel great this morning. The party was well worth waiting for.”

Dec. 2, 1995: The urge to get The Flood back together surged again in the winter of 1995-96 and inspired a road trip on this day from Huntington into the wilds of Kentucky. Five years earlier, Rog and Tammy had moved the family from West Virginia to the green rolling hills of Mount Sterling. There they settled in to a lovely, ancient farmhouse perched on 500 acres known to the Montgomery County locals as “Sunnyside Farm.

Today Tammy still talks of it. “We spent eight wonderful years there and music filled every room in one form or another. It was especially beautiful at Christmas time when we would bring in a real tree and enjoy fires in one of the three fireplaces and candles in the windows. Pretty isolated during some of those bad weather in the 90’s but we didn’t care! The family bundles up in front of the fire and drank cocoa, and Roger played tunes on the old guitar. Even a little dancing!”

1995

But it wasn't wintry on this particular day, when the Peytons and the Bowens hit the road west. On the contrary, it was positively April-like. We took food with us; the night before the trip, Pamela made stew and Dave and Susie Peyton made bread and salad. After a light lunch, we settled into the house's enormous living room for some music, while Susie and Pamela mother-henned Tammy, the youngest of "the band wives," who was expecting their fourth child, Cathleen, in five months. After several hours of picking and a leisurely walk around the grounds, petting the dogs and cats, we had dinner, then played for another couple of hours before heading home at 8 or so for the 90-minute trek home to Huntington.

1996

Jan. 27, 1996: At party in Ironton, Ohio, hosted by the late Cathie and Bob Toothman, fiddlin' Joe Dobbs hooked up again with Bowen and Peyton, leading to a major reawakening of The 1937 Flood in the months that followed. And it all happened because of Joe's chance meeting with another former Floodster, ToothmansBill Hoke, who was on his way to the same great party. Of course, Joe had been on hand 20 years earlier when Dave, Charlie and Roger Samples started the band in the early 1970s, and he had played with The Flood all along, as did Bill for part of that time.

But by the mid-1980s, band members started drifting off in different directions. Joe moved his Fret 'n Fiddle music store from Huntington to St. Albans; Rog left West Virginia, moving with Tammy and the kids to Mount Sterling, Ky.; Dave and Charlie put music on hold as they got busy writing computer books together for Bantam Books; Bill got married and moved to Abingdon, Va. So for about a decade, The Flood was more of a fond memory than a reality, a sometimes-kind-of jam session thing.

But then on Jan. 27, 1996, Bill was passing through and stopped at Joe's shop to visit and to check out instruments, and while there he said, "Hey, you ARE going to the Toothmans' party tonight, aren't you?" Honestly, Joe hadn't planned to -- he still didn't feel tip-top because of his car wreck the previous summer in which he had badly hurt his shoulder -- but, he told us later, "Bill Hoke kind of shamed me into it. I mean, I figured if he could come all the way from Virginia for a party, I sure as hell ought to go too." And we were all glad he did. Jamming a bit at the Toothmans' do, Charlie and Dave launched into some of the old tunes they'd played a decade earlier, and Joe joined in, sounding great to all them.

As Charlie told Joe in an email the next morning, "As Pamela said, 'You could have 100 fiddlers in the next room and pick out Joe's beautiful sound in an instant without even peeking!' You've spoiled us all over again." To this, Joe emailed back, "It is most flattering to have all of you to enjoy myy playing which sounded like a struggle to me. You being a musician understand what I mean b my hands not producing what is passing through my mind, just trying to play tunes that you have played for so many years. I felt very good about playing last night for just the physical exercise is very good for me."

After that night, Joe was eager for more, and by the following summer, he had resumed weekly sessions at the Bowens' house. Joe then would play with the band for the rest of his life.

(Incidentally, speaking of Bob and Cathie Toothman, 20 years later, we would still be thinking of this wonderful couple, even after after they both passed away, Cathie in 2002, Bob in 2007. For instance, here's a shout out to Bob in a March 2017 Flood podcast that includes a snippet of his singing and playing at an April 1980 party.)

Feb. 24, 1996: Charlie got email from Joe saying he would like to get together and pick some evening. “I wrote back right away,” Charlie told his cousin Kathy in an email, “saying that'd be great and telling him what evenings I'm free (essentially all evenings except Thursday through Saturday). I'll try to get Peyton and maybe even Rog to join us (tho it'd be a hour and a half drive for Roger). Be nice to get The Flood back together again, if only occasionally.” It would take another six months, but they would eventually get back together.

March 27, 1996: Stewart Schneider and Charlie sat down to record a few of a tunes they had been working on lately. Stew had been in The Flood off and on since its earliest days. When Joe joined up in 1975, Stew was already there, playing bass.Then, in the late 1970s and early ‘80s, when the guys got juggy with it and started exploring the after-dark hokum tunes of folks like The Memphis Jug Band, Gus Cannon and Tampa Red and Georgia Tom, Stew switched to a bluesy harmonica to be The Flood’s first woodwind section.

charlie - stew

Later still, Stew drifted away again to sample other instruments. By the mid-1990s, he had become quite a talented and tasteful Autoharp player, and he and Charlie regularly jammed on Wednesday evenings. This 9-minute track ("My Heart Belongs to She," Stewart's Song," "October Wind") recorded on March 27, 1996, illustrates the kind of tunes the duet was playing in those days. The first song is a composition by Andy M. Stewart and Manus Lunny, “My Heart Belongs to She,” which they’d heard on the late, great WOUB radio’s “Below The Salt” show with Keith Newman. Following that is an instrumental that Stewart wrote. (We’ve forgotten what he called it, so it goes down in history as “Stewart’s Song.”) The final cut is the guys’ rendition of the Irish lullaby, “October Wind,” featuring not only Stew’s harmonica, but also his vocal harmony. (And THERE's the evidence, so don’t let him ever tell you he can’t sing….)

Aug. 6, 1996: Keeping a promise he made at a party the previous winter, Joe Dobbs accepted an invitation to start regularly picking with his old Flood cohorts. On this warm Tuesday evening, he rode his motorcycle from Fret ’n Fiddle in St. Albans to meet Charlie and JOe-bikeStew at Bob Evans for dinner, then came back to the Bowen house for three hours of picking.

“Joe continues to be the best fiddler I have ever heard,” Charlie told his cousin Kathy in an email the next day, “and it was such a good time. Stew and I have been playing the same tunes for about four years now, but suddenly they were new with Joe in there.”

Joe’s appearance wasn’t unexpected. Back in January, Joe had shown up at a music party at the Cathie and Bob Toothman’s house in Ironton, Ohio, and had picked some of the old tunes with Dave and Charlie. In the months following the Toothman party, Charlie and Joe had exchanged regular emails in Charlie kept encouraging him to come and jam, if for no other reason than as therapy to help heal the shoulder he had injured in the June 1995 roll-over van wreck.

“I have had a very hard time with my slow recovery from the shoulder injury,” Joe acknowledged in an email exchange with Charlie the day after the Jan. 27 Toothman party. “I have been trying for six months to play at home. It as been most uncomfortable. That is the main thing I am wanting to do now, even for the last three years, that is to regain my playing skills to the point it is comfortable and exciting for me. … I want to get back to playing. I don’t care what kind of music. (Well, no disco…) This is really one of my goals for 15 years. … I have lived my life in reverse of most people. I had the family at a young age, and now I’m ready to retire and be a footloose and fancy-free 25 year old!”

Nonetheless, because of bad weather, work and aching shoulders, it took another seven months to get Joe back in the fold. And when he finally came around, “he seemed to have a good time,” Charlie told Kathy after the Aug. 6 jam session. “Who's knows? He may come 'round more often -- we might not see him again for four years -- that'd be like Joe too! :) Anyway, it was wonderful.”

And Joe was back the next week for more, again roaring in on his bike. “Joe is looking good these days,” Charlie said in another email to Kathy. “Here he is 62 this month and he's having the time of his life. … He's traveling around the country on his motorcycle to music festivals -- last week he was in Galax, Va., Elkins, WV, and Pittsburgh all in the same week. And when he's not at festivals, he's on the road to Iowa to see his new girlfriend, Sandy."

From then on, Joe would be a regular at the weekly Bowen house jams, eventually reeling in Peyton to the fun.

Sept. 4, 1996: Dave Peyton joins the weekly Tuesday night picking with Joe and Charlie. (" Joe, fresh back from visit his honey in Iowa, came up to play fiddle. Stew couldn't make it, so I invited Dave Peyton," Charlie told his cousin Kathy in an email, "and he had such a good time, we ended up playing 'til 11, two hours longer than we usually play. Honestly, the music wasn't all that great -- Dave hadn't played in a while and just couldn't seem to get in tune -- but he lacked in pitch he made up for in enthusiasm!"

Bob GabordiDec. 29, 1996: David, Roger and Charlie played an early evening gig at the home of Herald-Dispatch editor Bob Gabordi, an event that had more significance to The Flood than to those attending a mere holiday party.

That's because asit worked out, 1996 was a seminal year in getting The Flood back into a regular flow. First, at a late-January party at the Ironton, Ohio, home of Bob and Cathie Toothman, Joe had hooked up again to pick with his old bandmates. Joe had such a good time that evening that he started emailing Charlie suggesting more sessions. (Joe had a particularly good incentive for that; the previous summer, he had injured his arm in a car wreck and he figured – correctly – that regular Flood practice would be good therapy for his healing body.) So by mid-1996, weekly sessions of music were back in the Bowen house, sometimes just Joe and Charlie, sometimes with David and/or Stewart sitting in.

And in the spirit of reunifications, the guys also were trying to draw Roger back into the stream, but that was proving to be more of a challenge. By then, Rog and Tammy and the family had been living in Mount Sterling, Ky., for six years, and Mount Sterling just far enough away (an 90-minute drive to Huntington) to prohibit making weekly practices. Still, there was something in the air. A year earlier, in early December 1995, the Bowens and the Peytons had treked to Mount Sterling for a day of music with Roger. Since then, Rog had made periodic stops by the Bowen house when he was on the road with his work, and usually guitars came out when he came in.

On the Sunday between Christmas and New Year's in 1996, Joe couldn't make the job – he was still recuperating from a long trip to and from Australia – but the day found Roger eager for more Floodishness. He drove in on that sunny afternoon to be on hand visiting with Charlie and Pamela when the Peytons arrived to whisk them all to the Gabordis' large but modest South Side Huntington home for the party. Dave, Rog and Charlie set up in the living room and picked from 4:30 to 7:30, playing the old repertoire, heavy on folk, rock and jug band tunes, taking only a 20-minute break to be fed.

The Garbordi party also would provide an important link for The Flood's future adventure. One of the attendees that afternoon was reporter Marina Hancock-Mathews, who later would ask David to bring the band to little coal camp in Raleigh County to entertain visiting Marquette University students on spring break. The Tams Mountain evenings would be a regular spring outing for David, Joe and Charlie for the next five years.

1997

Feb. 18, 1997: Along with fiddler Buddy Griffin, David, Joe and Charlie drove to Mt. Sterling, Ky.,for an evening of music with with Rog Samples. "We had a ball," Charlie told his mom in an email the next day. "We got there a little later than we'd planned, 'cause we had to give a ride to another fiddler who wanted to join us and he was late arriving, but it was great fun when we got there. Didn't get home 'til 12:30 this morning, so I'm a little red-eyed this morning, but it was worth it. And I think it meant a lot to Rog that four of his friends would drive all that way just to spend an evening with him.”

March 5, 1997: For five or six years at the turn of thr 21st Century, The Flood’s original three amigos — David, Joe and Charlie — had a weird, wonderful way to celebrate the coming of spring. Each March from 1997 to 2002, the trio hit the road for an evening's drive into the mountains to entertain visiting students from Marquette University who were spending their spring break helping out around the tiny West Virginia coal camp town called Rhodell in Raleigh County.rhodell

The idea actually was born a few months earlier when The Flood played a New Year’s Eve party at the home of Herald-Dispatch newspaper editor Bob Gabordi. At the party, one of the attendees was reporter Marina Hancock-Mathews, who told the guys that the band’s brand of folk music would really appeal to her mother. In the weeks after that, the more Marina talked, the more Dave and Charlie realized this mom – an old-style activist and community organizer named Martha Thaxton – was a force of nature they just had to meet.

You see, it was largely because of Martha that Rhodell – a bedroom community of Sophia (home of the late Sept. Robert C. Byrd), itself a bedroom community of Beckley – had become a great little nest of lefties there tucked away in the foothills of Tams Mountain. And it was also because of Martha Thaxton that these Marquette students volunteered to come to West Virginia each year to work around a little health clinic operated by a Catholic sister, painting and fixing up. And bless their hearts, the only entertainment these sweet altrustic students got for their week in West Virginia was the night The Flood roared into the town.

For that first trip in March 1997, it was two and half hours in the rain with Dave behind the wheel on dark and narrow, winding roads.

But it was worth it. Martha had a fire going when they got there, and, as Charlie told his cousin Kathy in an email the next morning, the eight wide-eyed yankees "were blown away by Joe's fiddling and The Flood's peculiar, decadent jug band music. Martha fed us some fantastic mountain soul food and we played until 10 before turning toward home. It was well after midnight when I got home, so I'm a little red-eyed this morning, but still smilin’.”

July 31, 1997: It was a strange gig for the suddenly reconstituted Flood. The evening before, David called Charlie and, after apologizing for the short notice, asked for a little time. It seemed he got roped into speaking in Cross Lanes to a class of visiting students of all ages, K through 12. Only after he said yes did he find out that none of the visitors spoke English. How, you might ask, does anyone teach a class of students from a dozen different countries in which no one speaks the same language? Well, we didn’t know either.

On the drive up, we thought we’d pose that question to the teacher… assuming HE spoke English. To be on the safe side, David drafted Charlie and Joe to back him up — international language of music and all that — and it worked. Children from Japan and elsewhere who didn’t know a word of our language still grinned and clapped along with the old fiddle tunes.

Nov. 11, 1997: The music of the latest practice "was wonderful," Charlie told his mom in an email. "Joe is sounding better than I've ever heard him," he added, "and I've been hearing him for 25 years! Now that he's retired, he's spending five and six hours a day practice and damn! it's apparent. Honestly, Dave and I have a time keeping up with him, but Joe says over and over how much he likes playing with us, because we play things he doesn't hear anywhere else."

Aug. 29, 1997: David and Charlie came to do a live performance on Joe’s “Music from the Mountains” radio show on West Virginia Public Radio. By then, Joe had been hosting the weekly show for a little over 13 years, and The Flood had been involved in it from the very beginning. (Or, well, BEFORE its beginnings, actually. Back in the late summer of 1982, when Joe was just thinking of pitching public radio on the idea of a weekly show, he called his Flood brothers together at Fret 'n Fiddle, to record a demo of how he envisions the show, complete with interviews and live music. That was more than a year before the show hit the air on Nov. 11, 1983.) Anyway, for the first decade or so, MftM was mainly a play-records-and-talk kind of event, but lately, Joe had wanted to bring more live music to the air in the time slot, and once again he called on the Family Flood to help out. On Aug. 29, 1997, the trio that was The Flood in those days came to the Charleston studios for an hour of music, stories and laughs.

An especially pretty tune from that show was Joe's performance of an Irish melody he learned from Tony Ellis called "Gentle Maiden," Aug. 29, 1997.

STORIES:

-- David Tells All (About the Autoharp and More!) From Joe's Music from the Mountains" show, here’s an eight-minute hunk of the evening in which Joe interviews Dave about his history with the Autoharp, followed by a live performance of a Peyton classic, “Furniture Man," Aug. 29, 1997.

 

Dec. 8, 1997: At a practice, Joe, David and Charlie first discussed the possibility of playing at the Renaissance Bookstore in downtown Hntington. Letter to Mom: “We had some great music last night," Charlie told his mom in an email the next day. "It was the first time we'd been together since before Thanksgiving and it felt good to be picking again. Everybody seemed to have a good time. And we're even talking about maybe doing a few gigs. The guys are kind of interested in doing the Renaissance Book Store downtown and have pretty much left it up to me to sound out the owner, who's a friend. ... Also, we're sort of kicking around an idea of doing some street music. I've always thought it would be fun to do some street singing in the Georgetown area of Washington. Dave's thinking we ought to maybe that and some smaller towns along the way and write about the experience. He thinks he might even be able to get the newspaper to foot the bill for the travel if he did a story about it. I could probably get a magazine piece out of it for somebody. Anyway, right now we're jes' talkin'..”

The street singing never came to fruition, but the trio that was The Flood in those days did eventually play the Renaissance book store.

 

1998

Feb. 3, 1998: Roger Samples, on the road with his work, spends the night at the Bowens' house and jammed that night with Charlie and Joe. "The Flood is back in the business," Charlie told Floodster Emeritus Bill Hoke in an email the next day, "playing some weird stuff. (Well, what else is new?) Lately, we've been doing 'Up a Lazy River' and 'Georgia on My Mind,' and a couple of instrumental outa tunes by The Platters ('Only You' and 'Twilight Time') as well as fairly funky version of 'Mister Sandman.' Last week we added 'Dark Town Strutter's Ball' and launched into our new Tommy Dorsey set with "Sunny Side of the Street..." I think I've been possessed...”

March 4, 1998: David, Charlie and Joe headed for the hills again for another evening of serenading play for visiting students in the small town of Sophia, WV, near Beckley, the second of what we'd call our "Tams Mountain Adventures."

One particular memory of our Rhodell trips was a song that our hostess, Martha Thaxton, requested each year. Being old folkie herself, Martha loved the songs of Tom Paxton that were so central to the 1960s. “Do you guys do ‘I Can’t Help But Wonder Where I’m Bound’?” she’d ask. “Just for you, Martha,” we’d say, and then play her request. And it turned out it really was just for Martha. After the annual Rhodell trips ended, the song drifted out of our repertoire. Then years ago, the song popped back into Charlie’s head and, well … let him tell it; here’s the memory recorded in a 2017 episode of The Flood’s “Jam Logs” podcast.

May 2, 1998: The Flood played the first of what would be a number of years of annual appearances at the Spring Festival at Heritage Farm Museum & Village, but, for Charlie, it was an inauspicious debut bcause of an unexpectedaccompanist: sciatrica. “I woke up about at 4:30 with terrible pain my hip and leg," Charlie told his mom in an email, "so bad in fact, that I had 1998-Farmto get out of bed and move downstairs. Tried to sleep on the sofa, but couldn't find a position that didn't hurt, so I spent most of the next three hours on my feet." By 8, Bowen was in a local emergency health clinic for x-rays and a diagnosis.

The good news for the band was that Charlie had an alternate plan. Floodster Emeritus Bill Hoke happened to be visiting that weekend and staying in the Bowens' guest room. From the clinic, Charlie called him. "Bill," he said, "I have a big favor to ask." "What?" "I need to you sit in for me on the music this morning." "Oh gee, I..." "I told you it was a BIG favor."

Well, even though he hadn't ben playing much over the previous decade or so, Bill agreed to take Charlie's guitar and go with Joe to meet Dave to start the Farm Gig, because Charlie -- still waiting for the x-rays to come back -- wasn't going to make it. "I told Bill I'd hurry out to join them as soon as I got some pain meds."

Charlie did make it for the later sets at the farm. " When I got there," Charlie wrote, "I told Peyton that, unlike that darn Roger Samples, when I get sick, I not only find a replacement guitar player, but I find one that's better'n I am!”

June 24, 1998: "You won't believe the kind of stuff we're playing these days," Charlie wrote his mom. "We worked up 'Goody Goody' last night. All these tunes with these wonderful, old-fashioned chord changes. Joe's in heaven. He said he never thought he'd get to play some of these things. A typical evening for us these days includes 'Bill Bailey,' 'It's a Sin to Tell a Lie,' 'Sweet Georgia Brown,' 'Somebody Stole My Gal,' 'Alabama Jubilee' -- we've come a long way from 'June Apple' and 'Soldier's Joy..'" The music we're playing these days is mostly happy, upbeat tunes from the '20s, '30s and '40s. "

GinaJuly 30, 1998: Dave, Joe and Charlie play at party in Charleston at the hilltop home of an old friend, Gina Schrader. In an email later to his mom, Charlie noted, “Joe has friends literally all over the world who play and many of them come to West Virginia in the summer time for the festivals. One of their favorites is at Clifftop … nd they gather for parties throughout the week. Joe asked Dave and me to accompany him to one of them where some of his friends were coming in from Idaho, the Virgin Islands and Australia. The party took place at this wonderful little modern house set up in the oak forest near the Charleston airport -- trees on all sides. It was great.

"We played all evening, and even renewed acquaintances with people we've not seen in 20 years,... and Joe's friends were amazed at the kind of tunes we've got Joe playing these days. In fact, one of 'em said, 'Next thing you know, you guys'll be doing "Deep Purple."' We just winked at each other and launched into it... cracked 'em up.”

We have no recordings from that night, but here's Joe doing "Deep Purple" three years latr for his 2001 album, "Fiddle and The Flood."

Sept. 4-6, 1998: David, Rog and Joe played Jackson’s Mill Jubilee and ragged on Charlie for not being there. “We took the opportunity to trash those of you where were not there," Roger told Bowen in a later email, "so I wouldn’t be going around Weston fir a while if I were you.”

Tom PressmanSept. 23, 1998: Long-time Flood fan Tom Pressman attended his first rehearsal, "a one-man audience," Charlie his cousin Kathy in a later email. "Tom, an acquaintance from down the street, saw Dave getting out of the car in front of our house and stopped to chat. When he heard that we were going to play, he said he wanted to hear. A few minutes later, he dropped in and stayed for the whole session.”

Nov. 4, 1998: “Hey! We might have found a bass player!" Charlie enthusiastically told his cousin Kathy in an email. "Last night while we were eating at Applebee's before the practice, Joe recognized a guy he knew sitting across the way. He Andy Countsintroduce him to me as 'the best bass player I've ever known.'"

The quiet man at the table was W. Andrew Counts, who had even attended a Chicago music institute and used to play in the West Virginia Symphony. Flattered by all the praise, Andy demured, saying he had lost his chops and had even sold his bass. "We said, no problem – Joe runs a music store," Charlie wrote. "Sure, said Joe, I can bring you a bass." Andy lived in town and seemed interested enough in sitting in with us next at next practice.

"The only problem, according to Joe," Charlie added in his note, "is that Andy's religious. But what the hell... uh, heck, I guess... I mean, it'll maybe put a crimp in our smart-ass.. uh, smart-alecky ... comments, but SHUCKS (yeah, I saw That One coming!), if he works out, we'll just buy a damn.... I know, I know, DARN .... muzzle for Peyton, because it would be cool to have a bass player. Just like a real band... and we could play revivals! STOP THAT!”

Well, no, it didn't work out. Oh, Andy did sit in with us and we absolutely loved what he was playing, but when we got a bit too comfortable and drifted into the "after dark repertoire" of jug band teams, we figured we'd made a mistake. Joe always chuckled about it later."Hell, I knew you guys'd scare him away."

STORIES:

-- Scaring Off the Bass Player. Before Doug joined the band in 2000, we made several unsucessful efforts to reel in a bass player. One of our favorite tall tales is our poorly executed campaign to attract Andy Counts to be a Floodster.


1999

Danny GillumJan. 3, 1999: At afternoon party at Bob and Cathie Toothmans’ house in Ironton, Ohio, Charlie sounded out Danny Gillum about possibly playing with The Flood.

”Danny used to play with the band there in Ironton,” Charlie told his mom in an email the next day, “but he decided to move on to other things. The ‘other things’ didn't work out, so now he's a bass player without a band. We talked for a few minutes, and I gave him my numbers and told him we'd love to have him sit in some Wednesday night. He's a little ways away -- lives on the other side of Ashland, so it'd be a 35 to 45-minute drive for him to Huntington, but that's about what Joe does from Hurricane each week. Hope hear from him.”

Danny didn’t, and 12 months later it became a moot point when we hooked up with baseman extraordinaire Doug Chaffin. But Danny remained in The Flood orbit. For instance, five years later, when we were playing at the coffeehouse at Ashland’s Paramount theater and bassist Dave Ball was unavailable, Danny Gillum stood in on bass for the show, and decades later Danny was still on hand for mini-jams at the Chaffin house.

March 10, 1999: The Flood played Sophia (Tams Mountain) again. “The weather was terrible, as usual," Charlie reported in an email to his mom. "This is our third time playing for the visiting youngsters of Marquette, and we were talking on the way there that it's been snowing each time. Little worse this time than in years past -- while it was still dry as a bone in Huntington and Charleston, it started snowing as soon as we reached the southern mountains, around Paint Creek, and snowed all the way there, or the next hour. Fortunately, Dave was driving his four-wheel drive vehicle and I don't think we slipped once the whole time.

"We got to Martha's about 7:30. She greeted us at the door, a big, jolly black lady with a twinkle in her eye and this sweet, high, squeaky voice. She brought us in the from cold and feed us and poured us full of hot coffee, then sat us down on straight-back chairs in the living room so we could play our music. The kids were a quieter group than in years past -- part of the reason might have been that this was the first year in which there were boys there as well as girls. The previous two years, they were all girls, and tended to be a little rowdier. This time, they seemed to be a little more reserved, perhaps wanting to make a better impression on each other. Just a guess.

"But a few of our little jugband tunes warmed 'em all up. And they applauded after every song. Hey, we're not accustomed to that. We could get spoiled. Kinda thought we ought to at least have thrown down a hat and earned a few dimes to pay the toll booths on the way home... Joe was in particularly fine form. He played fiddle more last night than he has been lately. With good reason -- as we were setting up, one of the young ladies took an interest in the fiddle and indicated she played a little. Joe, always the gentleman, handed her the fiddle and picked up the mandolin as we launched into a tune. Well, she was, bless her heart, terrible. Joe looked at us; we exchanged a few meaningful glances and switched tunes. Joe said to her, "Oops, I'll need the fiddle for that one," got it back, then never let go of it again all evening.

"We played for about two hours straight, then after a round of photographs, hugs and handshakes, we said our goodbyes,promising to be back next year, and hit the road again. One side of Tam Mountain was pretty seriously slick on the drive, but Dave navigated it beautifully, and we skied on down from Beckley to Huntington without incident.”mike perry

May 1, 1999: For the second time, The Flood played at the annual Spring Festival at Heritage Farm Museum and Village. Earlier that year, the late Mike Perry, an old friend and founder of the farm, had contacted David Peyton, saying that after the previous spring's performance, he was thinking that West Virginia's most eclectic string was a natural fit for what he hope to present at his new farm museum, saying The Flood might become the "house band," or rather the "farm band."

Writing later to his mom, Charlie noted, "Unlike last year, when we played under a tent outside, this time Mike has us playing two one-hour sets in the reconstructed church and meeting house. Folks came in, sat in the pews and listened. We had quite a nice crowd, even tho we missed Joe's fiddle (Dobbs has a better offer, we told the crowd. 'What's her name?' somebody shouted...)"

Former Floodster Bill Hoke, in town for a visit, "sat in with us and we were able to do a lot of three-part harmony," Charlie's email added. "The acoustics in there weren't the greatest, but the crowd was warm and friendly and we had a lot of laughs. Still, we're suggesting to Mike that next year, we go back to the tent outside. It's a lot less 'formal.' We ain't exactly a formal bunch...”

May 23, 1999: Joe performed in "The Fiddler's Ghost," which was presented by Marshall University's Opera for Youth and Children's Chorus and the Greater Huntington Park and Recreation District, as it debuted at Huntington's Ritter Park Amphitheater.

June 9, 1999: The band practices despite power outage. "A transformer blew," Charlie told his cousin Kathy in an email. "The guys had just arrived for the weekly band practice and we were sitting in the dark staring at each other. We decided to move the practice out to the breezeway (though there certainly wasn't much breeze out there...) ... I wonder if my neighbors said, 'Oh gawd ... Bowen's got his garage band out there!'... Well, at least a few of the neighbors dropped by the listen and it was fun being with everyone, but it would have been more fun if we'd been air conditioned. Well, can't have it all, I guess. And of course, yesterday was the worst day of the heat wave. The temperature was in the mid-90s when the power died. Anyway, we played until dark -- about 9:30 -- then Dave and Susie went home and Joe and I went over to Dwight's for ice tea and sandwiches.”

July 10 and 24, 1999: The re-united Flood – as the trio of Joe, Dave and Charlie – had been jamming together for several years by the summer of '99. However, except for the occasional freebie (picking at the early incarnations of the spring festival at Heritage Farm Museum and Village, making the March pilgrimage to Tams Mountain to play for visiting Marquette students), the guys stayed pretty close to home, picking mainly at Charlie or Dave's house. However, Joe was getting eager to get the group a little exposure, so he booked two out-of-town paying gigs.

The first (July 10) was a Saturday evening performance at Fort New Fort Salem, a reconstructed frontier settlement of 19th century log structures about three hours to the north of Huntington in the wilds of Harrison County, WV. The show, performed on an outdoors log stage with the audience in folding chairs and on the ground in front of the pickers, was primarily fiddle tunes and traditional Appalachian ballads and dance songs. A particularly sweet moment from the evening was the memory one of young lady coming up to the guys after the show; with tears in her eyes, she took Joe's hand and said, “That was my father's favorite song; I've not heard heard it since his funeral.” On the drive back to Huntington, Joe was still thinking about that sweet moment. “That's why we do this,” he said.

The second gig (July 24) was several hours to the southeast of town in Fayetteville. WV. The venue was a wonderfully restored old theater with great acoustics, a balcony and plush seats, and we were not accustomed to much we were catered to. We had a sound man working the board for us, a spotlight, a dressing room, and people even paid to get in and hear us, a first... We had a very good time. The music went well, the audience was warm and responsive. We played two 45-minute sets,with a 10-minute intermission, during which we chatted to som of the several hundred people in the audience. Following the second set, we even got two encores. It was a pretty magic evening.

STORIES:

-- Ready to be Famous. Appearing on Buddy Griffin's "Mountain Air" radio show at Glenville State University, Joe recalls playing the Fayetteville theater in the summer of 1999.


July 31, 1999: An email to Charlie's mom included one of th first tellings of how The Flood got its name, a yarn repeated may times. “You asked about how The 1937 Flood got its name. It was back in the 1970s. Pamela and I had just moved into the blue house over on 13th Avenue, the one where we held all the bashes. Right after we moved in, where were invited to a neighborhood party at which all these long-time residents kept coming up to us and telling us how high the water came on each house during the great flood of 1937. Something about that struck us funny and I mentioned it to the guys at the next band practice. Well, later we were getting ready to play somewhere in Kentucky (I think it might have been at Carter Caves) and realized that we didn't have a name for the band. Suddenly, Joe walked up to the microphone and said, 'We call ourselves 'The 1937 Flood,' 'cuz back in Huntington, they're still talking about us...'”

Aug. 17, 1999: Dave, Susie and Charlie make a quick trip to Mt. Sterling to pick with Rog in preparation for the Aug. 20 “farm gig.”

“The Peytons and I got to Rog and Tammy's new house at about 6:30," Charlie said in a later email. "Nice place -- much nicer, actually, than their earlir home, though it doesn't have the privacy they were accustomed to. This is in a more urban area, but probably the richest section of the city, and probably the only rental property in time. I told Rog in email earlier in the day that we didn't need to eat, so we jumped right into picking as soon as we got them. I'd identified a couple dozen tunes we could play at the Friday deal, we ran through a few of them, then looked over the list of the others and agreed that all were do-able. I think we're more than ready”

Aug. 20, 1999: Supporting West Virginia tourism, the folks at Heritage Farm Museum and Village hired Dave, Rog and Charlie to help out by playing for a group of visitors.

1999“It was not a public show,” Charlie told his mom in an email the next day, “but a private gathering of theLeague of West Virginia towns and cities, mayors and city managersfrom around the state. We set up on the front porch of one of the old buildings and commenced to pickin' when the first busload arrived. There were probably a couple hundred folks coming for food and a tour of the farm museum, each arriving in shifts. We tried to be picking as each busload arrived. We ended up playing hard for about an hour without a break, but it was fun and we didn't really nice the time, just that our fingers had sort of worn out.

"I'd written out a list of some 50 tunes we could do, so we just checked the list from time to time and choose another two or three and got back into it. I think Rog, who hasn't played with us much in the past few years, was surprised at how tight the renaissancemusic has gotten in his absence, and at some of the harmonies Dave and I have worked out. It's a shame he's not around here -- we'd be making some good music. … We played until 8 or so, collected our money and went on our way.”

Aug. 25, 1999: The trio played in a coffeehouse in the basement of a lovely downtown Huntington independent bookstore called Renaissance. It was the band’s first gig in that venue, and the guys drew a nice, enthusiastic crowd, including a sweet little family — mom, dad and wide-eyed little girl — that seemed to smile in unison whenever The Flood launched into yet another John Prine song. The family would return two weeks later to party with us again when we returned to the coffeehouse for another couple of sets in early September.

1999-TheJonesesSept. 1, 1999: At the Peytons' place out on Huntington's Mt. Union Road, Joe, David and Charlie jammed with assorted Joneses: Rod and Judy Jones, who were on one of their regular visits from their native Australia (we'd first met this dynamic couple of old-time music lovers 20 years earlier!) and tuba-sensational Dale Jones, who in a year would be instrumental in letting The Flood become part of the wonderful annual Coon Sanders Nighthawks Reunion Fan Bash.

Sept. 8, 1999: Joe, David and Charlie played for the second time at Renaissance Book Store coffeehouse in downtown Huntington. we were just setting up when in walked Dale Jones, leader of the great local Backyard Dixie Jazz Stompers. Recognizing the the mid-1999 version of The Flood was a little light on the bottom end of its chords — we were still four months away from Afterwordhooking up with bass man extraordinaire Doug Chaffin — Dale brought along his tuba and sat in with us for the two hours as we played a steady stream of jug band and jump tunes. This time the family’s little daughter — maybe six or seven years old — got fascinated with the sound of the tuba and danced to one tune after another.

From that day on, Dale Jones would be a dear friend of The Flood. Incidentally, the poster we created to promote the Renaissance gigs was the first time we used the phrase that we would repeat often over the next couple of decades: The band, not the natural disaster, along with our faux Charles Darwin quote: “There ain’t nothin’ natural about these boys’ selections!”

STORIES:

-- Songs We Play When Dave Goes to Pee. This story reveals the unique urinary connection we had to swing tunes in those early days of playing ... and peeing....


Sept. 21, 1999: Jamming at the Peytons' house on Mount Union Road, Joe brings Gina Shrader to the session. "The music was especially good," Charlie told his mom in an email. "We were all on, and I think Joe was, uh ... well, what is that technical term? Oh yeah: Showing off. 9^) Everything he played was a little louder and more energized than usual, and right on the money. At one point, Dave and I just looked at each other and grinned... And Gina enjoyed herself, saying she's never heard so much music that she liked in one evening. Later she cracked everyone up at the end of the evening when she said enthusiastically, 'You guys need to practice more often!' 'Yeah,' Dave shot back, 'that's not the first time we've heard that.' We were still laughing about it when Joe and Gina dropped me off here and headed back to Putnam County.”

Nov. 21, 1999: The Flood played its first show at Tamarack near Beckley, WV. The famed arts/crafts tourist destination — an economic development project of the West Virginia Parkways Authority selling homegrown craft products, as well as tamarackspecialty food items, fine art and books and recordings — was only three years old at the time. Joe, representing the interests of musicians around the Mountain State, had been active in helping get the venue started, and he had no trouble persuading his cohorts Dave and Charlie to join him for one of Tamarack’s first free Sunday afternoon concerts.

"The Tamarack gig went beautifully,” Charlie told his mom in an email the next day. “We went immediately to the theater and found they had a nice poster up with our pictures and name on it and we hadn't been there five minutes when we heard the lady on the microphone announce that we would be playing at 2. The theater is very modern, with great acoustics, wonderful lighting and modern, comfortable seats. Ran into Dave and Susie, who had been there for a couple Tamaracksignhours shopping and Joe came in just after that. We immediately went for our sound check, so the guy could get the mikes and monitors set up for us.

"Then we adjourned to our dressing room to wait to be introduced," Charlie wrote. "While we were there, the director of Tamarack came back to say hello. We then learned of the only hitch of the day -- we had prepared two 45-minute sets, but it turned out that he preferred one, one-hour set. So, in the minutes before we were introduced, I had to go through my list and prune the show down from 20 tunes to a dozen. Best laid plans... The show itself went great. We had probably a hundred folks there and while they told us not to be put off if people who came and went, they didn't. Most stayed for the whole show, gave us a warm reception and nice audience after each tune. Even though we had a few glitches -- couldn't quite hear each other as well as we thought we would -- the jam sessions played off, 'cause we hung together nicely. And afterwards, we had a lot of people come up and chat with us.

Many of the tunes the three played that day — “Rocking Chair,” “Fair and Tender Ladies,” “Sweet Georgia Brown,” “Furniture Man,” Sally Garden,” Jug Band Music” — would appear on the band’s first CD two years later, by which time the trio had expanded to a sextet.

Meanwhile, the picture above, one of our favorites, verifies that the gig featured one of the rare occasions when Joe not only switchedfrom fiddle to mandolin but also sang. (We think the tune we were doing whenthis shot was snapped was Hazel Dickens’ “West Virginia, My Home,” asong for which Joe had found a high harmony he particularly liked to sing.) The Flood has played Tamarack many times since Darcythat November 1999 show; it remains one of our all-time favorite venues.

Nov. 24, 1999: Many years ago, Pamela and Charlie Bowen, while touring the annual Mountain State Art & Craft Fair in Ripley, WV, bought a wonderfully peculiar rocking horse that are carved as a braying donkey.

The three-foot high piece was still happily rocking away in the Bowen house when two sister cats, Darcy and Ginger, came to live with the Bowens in the mid-1990s.

It became a standing joke at the Bowen house that the cats had their own way of telling the guys whenever it was time to end the weekly jam session. After hours of listening to us play, Darcy would emerge from whatever cubbyhole she had been napping in, stroll into the room, hop up onto the donkey's back and stare at us. Joe Dobbs -- a cat lover from way back -- loved to tell that tale, as you can hear here:

STORIES:

-- The Donkey-Riding Cat. Joe's fiddle made animals commune in the oddest ways!

 

Dec. 31, 1999: The Flood jammed with Doug Chaffin for the first at a New Year's Eve party in Ashland, Ky.

Now, Dave, Joe and Charlie had been looking to add a bass for a while. Joe, who always said "if you don't have a bass, you don't have a band," doug-basswas nonetheless skeptical about our prospects. "We're not going to find a bassman who wants to play the weird stuff we're doing these days," he said, referring to the band's eclectic mix of folk, blues and swing. And so far he had been correct. (Oh, during the late summer, Joe had brought around one bass player to the practice. "Don't scare him away," Joe said. "He's a preacher." The only session we had with the fellow went well enough initially, but when we morphed into some of the rowdier jug band tunes, we could tell by his expression that he wouldn't be back. Joe just grinned and shook his head, and we never saw that guy again.)

So, by the end of the year, as the three of us headed to Nancy McClellan's 1999 year-end bash, we pretty much figured we'd have to remain bass-less. But at the party, we just kicked into some of of the swing tunes we'd lately been playing ("Sunny Side of the Street," "Ain't Misbehavin'," "Star Dust") and suddenly Doug picked up his bass and jumped in.

For years, we had been hearing Doug play behind fiddlers like J.P. Fraley, but we had no idea he was interested in swing stuff too. NancyListening as Doug's sweet bass lines just cleaned up all the ragged edges of what we were playing that night, Joe winked and nodded. Here, from Nancy’s recording of the evening, is the very first tune Doug played with us, a raucous rendition of “Somebody Stole My Gal” Dec. 31, 1999.

During a break at the party, Charlie sidled up to where Doug was sitting on the couch by his wife Donna. But now, Charlie had transformed into a frat boy and Doug was suddenly the prettiest girl in the room. "So, we usually play on Wednesdays. You wanna pick with us?" Charlie said. "Or, are Wednesday not good? We could change it. What night would be good for you?" Watching this little episode unfold, Joe edged closer and whispered, "Watch it, Charlie -- you're going to scare him away too, like you spooked Andy Counts." Fortunately, Doug doesn't scare easy.

Starting in January 2000, he become a regular, and Doug Chaffin now is our most veteran Floodster after band founders Dave and Charlie. Over the years, Doug has played bass, guitar, mandolin and fiddle with The Flood, and is still going strong .Here's a classic Doug Chaffin bass solo from a live June 2002 performance in Morehead, Ky. Check out the band's reaction when Doug kicks into gear, then hear how he continues to drive the tune under Dave's crazy kazoo work that immediately follows the bass solo. Too cool.

This night also was celebrated in this entry in Flood Watch.

If you'd like to listen to a randomly selected playlist of Doug Chaffin tunes from his decades with The Flood, check out this Doug Channel on our Radio Floodango feature.

STORIES:

-- Meeting -- and Courting -- Doug Chaffin. Charlie and Doug recall how Mr. Chaffin became a Floodster.

-- Doug Talks About His Musical Youth. On a 2002 episode of his "Music from the Mountains" show on W.Va. Public Radio, Joe gets Doug talking about his roots in old-time rock 'n' roll and his 30+ years of picking with J.P. Fraley.

-- Celebrating Doug's Versatility. At a 2017 show in Charleston, Michelle and Charlie talk about how many roles Doug has played in the band since 1999.


The 2000s

2000

dougJan. 5, 2000: Doug Chaffin attended his first Flood jam session at the Bowens’ house just six days after sitting in with Joe and Charlie at Nancy McClellan’s New Year’s Eve picking party in Ashland. As Charlie told his mom in an email the next morning, he and Joe, along with Gina Schrader, had just returned from dinner at Applebee's and found a message on the phone answering machine from Doug. “He was checking to see if we were planning to play, that if we were, he wanted to come to,” Charlie wrote. Charlie called right back and Doug drove over from Ashland to join us.

“It was the first time he sat in with the whole group (Dave hadn't been there at Nancy's party last week when he jammed with Joe and me), and I think he was amazed at what the autoharp added to the sound,” Charlie wrote. “People can't believe what Dave does on that thing. And we all loved what Doug's bass added to the music. I think he wants to be a regular -- he commented how it would take a few sessions for him to get comfortable with the songs -- we play some fairly complex stuff, I guess. We all exchanged email addresses -- that's how we stay in touch between sessions -- and left saying, ‘See ya next week!’ So, The Flood's long search for a bass may be over!” Of course, it was!

And the next week Doug brought a little tape recorder to record some of the Flood tunes so he could practice with it at home. "Now, THAT's a first for us," Charlie said in another email to Mom. "Of course, smartalecks such as we couldn't let that pass. 'I think he's taping us so he can play it to other people and say, "And you wonder where people like THIS come from!''" ... We ended the evening on a very high note, all already eager for next week.”

By the next month, we also were occasionally moving the weekly jam sessions to Doug and Donna's house so the Chaffin friends and family could see what Doug had gotten himself into!

Feb. 21, 2000: Jam at Donna and Doug Chaffin's house in Ashland for the first time.

Feb. 25, 2000: Just six weeks after Doug Chaffin came on board as the band’s new bassist, The Flood played its first gig as a quartet, providing the evening’s entertainment for Huntington YWCA Benefit Buffet Variety Show and Dance. The Y needed to raise money to repair their roof. We' gave them two hours of music in exchange for food and drink, figuring it was fun for a good cause and also would provide a good shakeout session for the new arrangements before we spring 'em on any paying jobs.

2000-ywca

And we’d already had a pre-shakeout shakeout earlier in the week, when we rehearsed at the Chaffins’ place in Ashland. As Charlie told his cousin Kathy in an email later, “We caravan'd over to Ashland and Doug's house, where he had a buncha people waiting to hear us. It turned out to be a little mini concert, a good setting for us to try out the set list for the Y show. We did our two sets, straight through, taking a break for coffee in between.”

At the show itself, we got there to find twinkling lights over the stage, a huge dance floor separating the stage from the audience and an honest-t-gawd disco ball over the center. We commented that he hadn’t seen one of THOSE for a while. And the folks used the dance floor for everything from the jug band tunes to “Tennessee Waltz” and “Misty.”

March 8, 2000: The Tams Mountain Adventures that the guys had started in 1997 continued into the new millenium, as Joe, Dave and Charlie made their latest Rhodelle trip (Sophia), this time with Tom and Sharon Pressman in tow. “We did have a great time," Charlie said in a later email to his cousin Kathy. " Neighbor Tom picked me up about quarter of 5 and we headed for Hurricane to hook up with Joe. Lots of laughs on the way. You'd like Tom -- he's quite mad, like us. And Joe was in fine form. The weather was perfect -- great sunset over the mountains (through the haze of the forest fires, unfortunately... West Virginia is burning again. We GOTta have rain, folks!) Got to Rhodell about 7:30 -- yes, it IS a long trip – and found Dave and Susie already there. That was a surprise. Dave had said they'd be late.

"We tuned up and immediately launched into our good-time party stuff -- jugband, fiddle tunes, comedy bits. I think those children didn't know what hit 'em. 8^) The girls this year were the best yet. Lots of eye contact, grins and singing along. They danced to the Irish stuff -- this Irish dancing is real big everywhere -- and they cracked up when we played a polka, just for our WisCONNNSSSS-in visitors. Big ol Martha, our hostess, was as great as ever, and the sisters from the clinic, as always, are some of the gentlest, kindest souls I meet. We picked and sang for two hours straight and made memories, for them and for us. Then about 10, we were on the road again, tearing through the hillbilly night for home. This is the first year we've crossed Tam Mountain when it wasn't snowing. It's a much more pleasant experience this way.”

Coon Sanders 2000May 7, 2000 -- The Flood for the first time played the Saturday morning breakfast session of the Coon-Sanders Nighthawks Fan Reunion Bash, a Huntington, WV, gathering of traditional jazz fans from all over the country. Coon-Sanders organizer Dale Jones, leader of Huntington’s Backyard Dixie Jazz Stompers (and the first tuba player to jam with The Flood, had a hunch that the reunion regulars would get a kick out of the jug band portion of The Flood’s eclectic repertoire, and he was right!)

Doug Chaffin, our new upright bass player, couldn't make the gig, so we showed up as the original trio -- Joe, David and Charlie -- and suddenly found willing and eager bassmen Johnny Haynesready to sit in with us.

Dale performed with in for the first couple of tunes, then, when he went to have his turn at the breakfast line, then a great string-bass player named Johnny Haynes took over for the rest of the set. Here are two tunes from the morning's show ("What's That Taste Like Gravy" and "Black Eye Blues," May 7, 2000).

After that May 2000 performance at the breakfast session, The Flood would be invited back every year as a regular Saturday morning feature of the annual reunion for the next 13 years. The band would play at each May gathering until the final Coon Sanders Huntington reunion in 2012. The size and composition of the band showing up would change from year to year, sometimes just a minimalist trio of Joe, Dave and Charlie, other times a big eight-member ensemble, complete with guest artists and almost always with kazoos to share with the audience for hum-alongs.

(Incidentally, one of our favorite Coon Sanders memories was our May 2008 appearance, when we persuaded the great ragtime pianist Jazzou Jones to join us for the entire hour-long set.)

STORIES:

-- Coon Sanders Meets The Flood. Here's Dale Jones' wonderful introduction to Joe, David and Charlie at their first appearance at the Coon-Sanders Nighthawks Fan Reunion Bash.

-- Jazz's Bastard Step-child. That's Charlie three-word definition of jug band music in the band's opening remarks to Coon-Sanders at The Flood's first appearance.

farmMay 7, 2000: In the afternoon, after playing the breakfast session at the Coon-Sanders jazz reunion, Joe, David and Charlied headed over to Heritage Farm and Museum Village to play a few sets at its spring fest, pleasd to see that new bassistDoug Chaffin was able to join them.

As Charlie told his mom in an email, "We tuned up and launched right into it and played fast and hard for an hour -- 'three chords and a cloud of dust,' as Joe says. There were two other bands there too -- Stew Schneider's group from Ashland was invited and a great little Irish group headquartered in the neighborhood and we all jammed a little with each other in addition to playing our regular stuff. Fun afternoon, though by 4, my left hand felt like hamburger and it was good to get back home."

Charlie also noted that he chatted briefly with an old friend, Chuck Romine, who had played tenor banjo with local Dixieland bands and "he indicated he might like to sit in with The Flood some time. I gave him a card and told him we usually jam on Wednesday nights are my house. It'd be great if he started coming around. It's add an interesting new element to the music, that's fur shure. We'll see.” Of course, that was a fateful chat, because by the following January was on his way to joining the Family Flood.

May 28, 2000: The Flood for the first time played the Vandalia Gathering in Charleston, performing a 30-minute set on an outdoor stage in front of the state capitol complex. The guys’ program that afternoon, emceed by an old friend — West Virginia fiddling icon John Morris — featured mostly jug band tunes of the 1920s and ’30s, music that on one hand energized the crowd (we had dancers calling for more as the show ended), but on the other hand also brewed a mini-controversy among some Mountain State traditionalists. As we said that day — as we would say in many shows in the years to come — The Flood fervently believes jug band music has as much a legitimate place in Appalachian history as do the fiddle tunes and the square dances.

Vandalia

Sure, the jug band tradition is not always clearly defined in the history books, but it apparently began in the hills of Virginia before traveling on to more urban areas, immigrating in the late ‘20s to river towns like Louisville and Cincinnati (and Huntington, Ashland and Ironton, for that matter!) We told our Vandalia listeners that day that the tunes we played (“Rag Mama” and “Yas Yas Duck” among others), complete with Dave's cool kazoo solos,could be seen as mountain pickers imitating the jazz bands they heard on passing riverboats. In other words, it was another twist on the folk tradition that the Vandalia Gathering was born to celebrate. Sadly, not everybody bought what we were selling — over the years, some staunch folk purists (okay, Joe called them "folk Nazis") would continue to contend that West Virginia’s most eclectic string band just wasn’t “West Virginia enough” for them — and for our part, we just agreed to disagree.

Anyway, as Charlie told his mom in an email the next day, “When we got to the capitol, Joe took us inside the cultural center to basement, where we registered, got paid and were given buttons that gave us access to the green room where there was food and drinks for the players. We ran into Mack Samples there and chatted for a while, then about 11:30, we went out to find our stage. They had us slated for a performances on what they called 'the circle stage.' We'd hoped that our bass player, Doug, would be able to make it, but he didn't. (He was driving back from North Carolina the night before and probably had some tough travel in that weather.) We've been badly spoiled by Doug's playing -- his bass really holds us together. But at least this time we had good mikes, monitors and somebody working the sound board so we could at least hear each other. We tuned up, warmed up and took the stage at precisely noon. I'd worked out a 30-minute set list of a half dozen songs, starting with a fiddle, then going into a uptempo jugband number, followed by one of our Appalachian tunes with three-part harmony. It all went very well -- all those weekly jam sessions really paid off. We had fun, the crowd seemed to like us. There were a few drops of rain during the performance, but the big rains held off until we were finished."

Leaving the stage, we chatted with some new friends who have been attracted to our strange mix of music. Later we ran into Ted Samples who was on his way to meet up with his brothers for their performances. We had planned to go hear them, but the rains got worse and we decided to bail out.

STORIES:

-- Being Eclectic. While being interviewed on Red Barn Radio in Lexington, Ky., by host Brad Becker, the guys talk about their love of musical diversity.

June 22, 2000: The first public performance of Flood Lite -- the name we applied to any mini-version of the band, in this case Joe, Doug and Charlie -- was a gig played in the Kanawha Valley for a group of Union Carbide retirees. The grin of the day came when one of the listeners buttonholed Bowen and, in earshot of Joe and Doug, commented, "I'll bet you're a character.’" Dude, you don't know the half of it, Joe and Doug thought.

June 25, 2000: The band played a Sunday aftrnoon show at Tamarack. Joe picked me up at 11 yesterday morning," Charlie wrote his mom in an email, "and with his daughter, Diane from Nashville, in tow, we drove straight through to Beckley. We got through early enough that we could grab some lunch at the cafeteria. While we were in line, we spotted Doug and went and fetched him and told him where he could stash his bass. After lunch, we walked to the theater for the sound check, then went back to our dressing room to tune up and run through a few tunes. Before we went on stage. Had a good crowd -- probably a hundred people -- and we'd prepared a very diverse show, running from fiddle tunes and Appalachian folk songs to swing tunes and jugband songs. And the crowd responded well. Tamarack's always an odd gig because people come there to shop, not for music, so the audience often has people coming and going. However most of our crowd stayed the entire hour. That was nice. Afterwards, we visited with some old friends in the audience, including a Marshall journalism professor I've known forever. Also in the audience were Tim Pyles and his wife, the folks who actually run Tamarack. They talked with Joe a long time and Joe says they are real fans of our music and expect to invite us back soon. This was our second gig there in seven months and the money was good.”

June 28, 2000: Kathy Castner and her daughter, Cori, sing with the band. "It was a good evening," Charlie told his mom in an email. "Kathy was in great voice and it just seemed to inspire everyone to play better. Doug, who was meeting Kathy for the first time, was obviously very impressed with her, and Joe's fiddle sounded wonderful behind those sweet vocals. We played for 3 1/2 hours straight and had a ball. Even got Cori singing along on some of the stuff."

Harrison-Hamm weddingJune 30, 2000: Flood Lite (Joe, Doug and Charlie) made a memory for itself at the beautiful Friday night wedding of Kitty Harrison and Terri Hamm at Heritage Farm Museum and Village.

The service itself, officiated by Anne Sunday, was performed at the village's 18th century log church, then a bagpiper led the wedding party in a precession to the larger meeting hall for the reception where we waited to entertain and the couple and the guests in celebration with music ranging from ancient fiddle tunes to swings numbers of the '30s and '40s.

"Best memory of our reception," Terri wrote on the 20th anniversary of the marriage, "is the singing with our guests."

Same-sex marriages weren't legal in the state or the country at that time, "but it was sanctioned by our church and a real marriage," Terri added. "Twelve years later, on the same day, we did it again. This time as a civil union and it became a marriage in the eyes of our state."

STORIES:

--Booking the Bagpiper. Joe recalls how he helped book a man he described as "a redneck Marine" to play bagpipes at a same-sex marriage.

July 16, 2000: By now, Doug had been playing in the band for six months, and he and wife Donna had even hosted the guys for jam sessions in their Ashland, Ky., home three or four times. However, the one on this evening was special, more like a concert, really, complete with a second band. As Charlie told his mom in an email the next day, the evening started differently too.

“Got a phone call from Joe about 5 o'clock,” Charlie reported, “saying that he had just gotten in from Baltimore and wanted to rest a bit, so he opted out of our usual dinner plans and said he'd meet me in Ashland. I called Dave to flag a ride with him and Susie, who picked me up around 7. When we got to Doug and JP Fraley and JoeDonna's, there was already a house full of folks, including a few musicians I've been knowing for a long time, though I've not jammed with them since New Year's Eve at Nancy's party. Joe also had already arrived, riding his motorcycle in from Hurricane. We all unpacked our instruments and launched into our warmup tune. Now, honestly, I wasn't expecting much from Joe, since he'd been on the road all day, but whoa, Joe was hot, driving the music faster and harder. Between tunes we kept asking things like, ‘Stop for a lot of coffee on the way home, d'ya, Joe?’ I love the chatter we have these days during the songs. For instance, after Dave's first solo, I turned and asked Doug, "You think Dave's playing that higher than he used to?’”

The Flood rocked on for 45 minutes or so, during which time, more people came, including J.P. Fraley, the local fiddling legend, an old friend of the Chaffins. “Of course, we've all been knowing J.P. for 30 years,” Charlie wrote, “and he's looks better dow than I've seen him in years, and still as sharp as a tack. And still can PLAY too. After the Flood ended its first set, J.P. unpacked his fiddle, Doug got his too, Joe grabbed a guitar and away they go on 45 minutes of fiddle tunes. Toward the end of their set, Joe's got his fiddle going again, Dave's fetched his autoharp and even I'm thumping along behind on the guitar. Later, after J.P. left, the Flood came back for another hour or so, including some of the swing stuff we've been working up. We even had 'em dancing in the kitchen to ‘Ain't Misbehavin'.Fun evening!”

kazooJuly 26, 2000: During a picking session at the Peytons' house, suddenly the kazoo re-entered the Floodisphere for the first time in 20 years. Here's how it happened, according to a letter Charlie wrote to his mom later. "We launched gently into a few warmup tunes, by the time the Peytons' company -- Susie's brother Bill and sister-in-law Kira, from California -- returned from visiting other locals, we were rocking. Everybody was having a good night, especially Dave and Doug. And Kira brought Dave a brand new kazoo. We've been urging Dave to start playing kazoo again in the jugband stuff, like he did back in the '80s, but we just couldn't get him motivated. Doug had never even heard Dave play it. Well, he made his kazoo re-debut last night, and it rocked."

Aug. 13, 2000: At Heritage Farm Museum and Village, the band was invited by Tom Pressman to play a company picnic.

Sept. 10, 2000:
That Sunday morning, speaking in his regular column in The Herald-Dispatch, Dave Peyton published a kind of declaration of independence for folk music.

The piece — headlined “Folk musicians reinventing themselves” — discussed The Flood’s newly developed sound that mixed old-timey tunes with jazzier swing numbers that Joe had been encouraging us to learn. The piece would have a far-reaching impact, attracting all kinds of new listeners to Flood music, and Dave even invited the curious to come to the Hilltop Festival that very afternoon at the Huntington Museum of Art to get a sample of what The Flood lately.

hilltop2000


“All of us in The Flood developed an interest in music through the folk genre,” Dave wrote in the H-D, “but I have a confession to make. Playing folk music all the time is - well, a bit boring. The secret to learning traditional music is to learn three chords. If you can learn three chords, you can play 95 percent of all the traditional music of the mountains. Learn a fourth chord — a minor -- and you can play all of it.

“Folkies today are changing as they move toward the status of senior citizens. ‘Three chords and a cloud of dust’ just doesn't do it for us the way it used to. We did what we could to preserve the old music. We've played ‘Flop Eared Mule’ and ‘Sally Goodin’ so many times, we hear them in our sleep. Now we're movin' on down the line. That's why folkies, The Flood included, have been re-inventing themselves.”

Ultimately, Dave’s column also would help the Flood sound evolve even further. That's because one his readers that morning was Dixieland banjo picker Chuck Romine, who would still be thinking about Dave's words when he heard The Flood again a few weeks later at a public show.

Click here to read Dave’s complete Sept. 20, 2000, column.

STORIES:

-- Chuck Remembers His Beginnings. Talking on a 2002 episode of Joe's "Music from the Mountains" public radio show, Chuck reflects on his musical roots and his attraction to The Flood in early 2001.

 

Sept 23, 2000: The group traveled to Fayetteville, WV, to play at a FOOTMAD event. " Doug and Donna came by a little before 4 to pick up Doug's bass and to visit with Pamela and me for a few minutes," Charlie wrote in a later email to his mom. "Then Dave came along, and we all took off for the two-hour hike over the mountains. It was a beautiful autumn afternoon for the travelling -- sunny, if a little humid. We got there a little after 6. Joe had already arrived and was ready to play. We all tuned and warmed up for about a half hour, sitting on the tailgate of Dave's car picking. We went on at 7:30 and played a hot set of about half dozen tunes, heavy on jugband music. The crowd really responded to them and to the vocal harmony we've worked out on some of the more mountainy tunes like 'Banks of the Ohio' and 'Take This Hammer.' It was a real fine evening -- everybody was hot and "on. We coulda played all night like that. Our old friend, Rog, was there, but his brothers, Mack and Ted, didn't show up, so he had to go stage on alone. We woulda helped out, but he wasn't scheduled to play until 10 and we just didn't want to hang around that long, what with the two-hour-plus drive home.”

Oct. 18, 2000: The Flood — at the invitation of then-Mayor Jean Dean and TTA Director Vickie Shaffer — entertained folks who were gathered to hear the exciting plans for construction of the new Pullman Square on Huntington’s long-delayed Jean and Vickie“Superblock” downtown. The day had a strange start. An hour or two before we were to play, we learned that Doug Chaffin, our new bass player, would not be joining us; earlier in the day he had broken his wrist while working on a car in his garage, and it developed that he would be out of commission for the rest of the year.

However, the rest of the old-line Floodsters — Joe, Dave and Charlie — soldiered on, playing a lively mix of fiddle tunes, folks songs and the great old swing tunes the band lately had been sampling. And it was those latter numbers that attracted the attention of a couple of especially well-tuned ears. In fact two Floodsters-to-be were in the room that day:

-- Chuck Romine hadn't heard The 1937 Flood since the previous spring, and those songs — ranging from “Sunny Side of the Street” and “Up a Lazy River” to “Ain’t Misbehavin’” and “My Blue Heaven” — drew him to the bandstand to chat us up during a break. Until recent years, Chuck had led his own group — The Lucky Jazz Band, a much-loved local Dixieland outfit — and lately he had begun to miss making music. He missed it so much, in fact, that two months later, Chuck, with trusty tenor banjo in hand, would show up at our door to sit in at a Flood practice. Subsequent sittings-in week after week throughout that winter ultimately would result in Chuck’s joining The Flood, playing with the band for the next six years. He'd be featured prominently on the band’s first three CDs and it all its shows.

-- Dave Ball -- whom we would rechristen as "Bub" -- was also on hand at the Superblock announcement and would still remember his first exposure to Floodery when he was brought into the band in the autumn of 2003 to relieve Doug on bass.

And it all started that October afternoon on 3rd Avenue.

STORIES:

-- Kinda Busy Here, Jim... Charlie remembers a moment from that Pullman Square announcement day involving the late, great Jim Tweel.


Nov. 14, 2000: The Flood has always leaned toward having a lot of players (safety in numbers, and all that), and because of that, we’ve always had breakout ensembles, often dubbed “Flood Lite,” that would perform independently. A popular saying in our circle is a play on St. Matthew’s words, that whenever two or more gather in its name, it is “The Flood," and a gig on this date might be the origin of that particular Flood trope.

WoodlandsThe occasion was the first time the band play Woodlands Retirement Community, which had opened just a few years earlier in the hills above Huntington, but The Flood had a rocky introduction to the venue, and thereby hang a tale.

Now, in the autumn of 2000, The Flood was a foursome, but going into the Nov. 14 gig, we were already down a man; several weeks earlier, our new bassist, Doug, had boogered up his wrist while working on a car in his garage and would be out commission until the end of the year. So Joe arrived at 6:30 to give Charlie a ride to the job and we were waiting for David, the phone rang. It was Susie Peyton, calling on the cell phone to report that they had just had an accident in the car, a collision at the end of their road. No one was hurt, but Dave wouldn't be making it to the gig.

After we made sure they didn't need any help, Joe and Charlie headed up the hill. Some of the residents of the lovely residence met us at the doors and escorted us to the entertainment room, which seats probably 100 to 150 people. The acoustics were good enough that we were able to set up without mikes, just using a couple of stools in front of the audience. When we started playing, there were about 20 people. By the end of the second tunes, we had a room full. They were into the swing stuff -- we had 'em singing along -- and they really listened, calling out requests. We played for about an hour, joking between songs. For instance, we told them this might have to be our last public performance, because we lost Doug just before the previous gig, and now we've lost Dave before this one. "We're running outa guys!" Afterwards, a half dozen residents came up asking us to come back again, and bring the rest of the band. We would, many times. In fact, The Flood has played Woodlands more than a dozen evenings since that first minimalist outing.

The PressmansDec. 16, 2000: Doug returned to the fold for his first gig since breaking his wrist the previous October. The venue was the home of Tom and Sharon Pressman, playing at a holiday party for Tom’s company, Strictly Business. The quartet met at the Bowen’ house and headed over together in two cars. Tom met us at the door and even helped with carrying in Doug's bass. We set up in the living room and launched into our first set and the crowd, probably some 75 people coming and going, seemed to enjoy it. It was intended as background music, not a performance, and we were pleased at the variety of stuff we had to offer, from "Deep Purple" and "All of Me" to fiddle tunes like "Soldier's Joy" to the usual jug band stuff. We did three sets between 5:30 and 9.

Earlier that month, we’d been surprised that Doug was ready to return to picking. At a Dec. 6 rehearsal, while Charlie was starting to make the coffee, the phone rang. It's was Doug, calling from Ashland! "Hey," he said, "you guys playing tonight? I thought I'd come up and try to get through a few tunes with you." We gave him a hero's welcome when he got here around 8. And started out with a few simple, slow tunes, but before you know it, he was calling for our faster and more complex songs. Even took his solo on one of them. It sounded GREAT. You could tell it hurt him some, but he was said, "Well, the physical therapy hurts too, and this is a lot more fun."

And Joe had to admit, "You've made a liar out of me, Doug." It's true. Just an hour before at dinner, Joe was telling Tom Pressman and Charlie that he figured Doug wouldn't be back and playing until February or so! I said, "Well, mayBE, but if anybody can do it sooner, it'll be Doug. He really wants to play."

Dec. 31, 2000: The full Flood -- at this point, Joe, Dave, Doug and Charlie -- played at the McClellans' New Year’s Eve party. “Had a great time at Nancy and Harvey's party," Charlie emailed his mom the next day. " Dave and Joe arrived here about 7:30 and we caravanned over to Ashland, where Doug was already there and there was already a house full of people, mostly other musicians, many of whom we hadn't seen since this time last year. The Flood kicked off the festivities, playing a good, solid hour's set of swing tunes and jazzy jugband music before turning it over to the traditional fiddle tune folks. Good times. Also had fun visiting with old friends.”

2001

Jan. 16, 2001: Even the verbally circumspect Doug Chaffin resorted to an expletive — and in a church, no less! — to express his joy over the gig. "I don't use the word very often,” Doug said as we came off the stage, “but we just put on one HELL of a show!" At that point we’d known Doug for only for a year at that point — he joined us the previous January
so his exclamation brought laughs from the rest of us. “Ahhh,” David said, “the corruption of Doug Chaffin has begun!”

The venue was a church basement in Charleston, where we were fed and paid to play for a large Union Carbide retirement party, a job that Joe had arranged. And it was a special evening, everything sounding just right from the first few notes of a 45-minute set of swing and jug band numbers, Appalachian folk songs and fiddle tunes. Each one got a big hand and, at the end, a standing ovation. That — and the money — made our night.

Jan. 31, 2001: Chuck Romine brought his well-tempered tenor banjo to jam for the first time with The Flood. We had known Chuck for a long time; not only was he one of Cabell County's representatives in the state legislature, chuckbut he also had famously fronted a beloved local Dixieland ensemble, The Lucky Jazz Band, in the 1960s and '70s. Until his Flood exposure that night, however, Chuck had never played with an acoustic string band -- he was used to making that banjo roar along with all that brass -- but it turned out Chuck also could turn it down and play a light precise style that clicked right away with The Flood’s swing/jugband/folk/country repertoire.

Jan. 31, 2001, was funny evening, though. It got off to a rocky start. Joe hadn't been practicing much the previous couple of weeks -- he mainly had been crawling around dealing with frozen water pipes at his house -- and even when David arrived and jump in with his Autoharp and kazoo, the session was still limping along.

However, when Doug showed up with the bass and then Chuck arrived with the party-in-a-box that was his banjo, the night instantly went from rocky to rockin' and it stayed hot for the next two solid hours, generating smiles all around.

Throughout that winter, Chuck continued jamming with us and by spring we were asking him to joined as a full-fledged Floodster. "Doctor Jazz," as we still call him when he returns to sit in with us from time to time, became a solid presence in the band for the next six years. One of the first tunes Chuck played with us that first chilly winter's night was "Bill Bailey," which also made its way onto The Flood's first studio CD that fall. Click here for a taste of Chuck's signature tune!

The start of Chuck's Flood years also was covered in this entry in Flood Watch.

Meanwhile, if you'd like to listen to a randomly selected playlist of Chuck Romine tunes from his decades with The Flood, check out this Chuck Channel on our Radio Floodango feature.

STORIES:

-- Our Probation Officer. Another bit of Romine-related Floodishness is this story that Charlie shared with folks at a weekly jam session.

 

Feb. 8, 2001: For the second time, the band played a show at the Woodlands Retirement Community in the hills overlooking Huntington, and "the gig went well," as Charlie told his mom in an email the next day. "The place was packed -- probably 150 folks -- and they stayed for the whole thing and really seemed to enjoy themselves. We even got 'em singing along on tunes like 'My Blue Heaven' and 'All of Me.' That's neat. And we saw some old friends -- Bos Johnson, who lives at Woodlands now with Dotty, was there. So were Stew and Kathy Schneider, who don't live there, of course, but Stew's father and stepmother, John and Eleanor do. And a number of the residents came up afterwards and asked us to come back. Probably we will."

The only hitch in the evening is that Joe and the contact woman for the place got their wires crossed and we didn't arrive in time for dinner. Joe thought we had to be there at 6:30 for food. What she had actually said was get there before 6:30 in order to eat. So, we had to perform without anything to eat, "which made us all a tad grumpy... Afterwards, tho, Joe and I went downtown to grab a meal at Bob Evans."

March 27, 2001: The guys returned to Woodlands Retirement Community to do another evening show, "a 45-minute set," Charlie told his mom in an email the next time. "We played mostly uptempo pieces, such as 'Sunny Side of the Street' and 'Ain't Misbehaving,' as well as some mountain fiddle tunes and jugband numbers." But the highlight of the evening, Charlie noted, was when "a fellow named Bob Griffin, whom Dave and I have known for years, came up. Bob was looking great but Dave and I both had noticed that Mrs. Griffin didn't look so good. Bob explained that she'd developed Alzheimer's a few years ago. 'She doesn't talk anymore,' he told us, 'but she was tapping her foot to your music.' Don't you think that brought a tear to our eyes?”

April 4, 2001: In an aside to his mom in an email, Charlie noted that the band had come "into that awkward stage in our relationship" with Chuck Romine and his rollicking tenor banjo. "Among ourselves," Charlie wrote, "we're still trying to decide -- quietly of course -- 'Do we want him?' And then if we do, we gotta wonder, 'Does he want us?' It's a lot like dating... 8^)" Chuck had already agreed to sit in with us at the Coon Sanders gig the following month. "After that," Charlie noted, "we'll figure out if he's gonna be a member of The Flood. I, for one, want like to have him join us. I really think it gives the music a great kick, but we'll see.”

April 11, 2001: The band moved up the hill to have the weekly rehearsal at Phyllis and Chuck Romine’s house and "it was one of the greatest sessions we'd had in a long time," Charlie told his mom in an email. "Everybody was on. We ran through all the tunes that we will do at the Coon Sanders gig next month and also worked on some new stuff, including a tune or two that Chuck can sing. Also Chuck has found another old tune that I think would be perfect for Dave to sing. And I think it's pretty clear that Chuck wants to be part of the group and I think the group is getting pretty close to him too. Pamela and Phyllis, who were our audience last night, both thought it sounded good. I like what the tenor banjo adds to the rhythm as well as another soloists to the mix.”

May 5, 2001: Chuck Romine, who since January had been sitting in with The Flood at its weekly get-togethers at the Bowens’ house, wasn’t a member of the band yet. After three or four months, we were like nervous teenagers, definitely going chucksteady, but still sizing each other up. While Chuck wasn’t sure he really wanted to cast his lot with this motley crew, the rest of us — Joe, Dave, Doug and Charlie — still weren’t sure the band’s repertoire could be expanded enough to accompany Chuck’s raucous party-in-a-box tenor banjo.

And that was the situation in the spring of 2001 when the band was preparing for an encore appearance at the annual Coon-Sanders Nighthawks Fan Reunion Bash, a gathering of traditional jazz fans from around the country. The previous year, on a lark, organizer Dale Jones had invited The Flood to provide a side order of jug band tunes for the reunion's Saturday breakfast session, fully expecting it to be just a one-time novelty event. However, the jazz guys so enjoyed The Flood's eclectic mix of music — and hearing obvious roots of their tunes in the jug band numbers — that they urged Dale to invite us back. From then on, Coon-Sanders would become a happy regular early May event on the Flood calendar for the next decade.

Now it turned out that Romine — a veteran jazz guy himself — had a long history with the Coon-Sanders bashes, often sitting in with the various groups assembled for the weekend-long sessions at a Huntington hotel. However, he had missed The Flood’s 2000 debut, so he really didn’t know what kind of MikeEvansprogram we’d be putting on that morning when he met us at the hotel a little before 9 for his first public performance with The Flood.

Quickly, we got set up and launched into our 45-minute set. it went over very well. The crowd stayed and laughed along with us on the funny jugband stuff we did for them. We still remember strangers at a nearby table waving at us as get folks singing along on “Crazy Words, Crazy Tunes.”

Also during the set, we gave credit a great Columbus, Ohio, group, The Toll House Jazz Band, for providing the inspiration for one of the tunes we did (“Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gives to Me.”) The Toll House guys, themselves long-time regulars at Coon-Sanders were in the audience and responded to the compliment. Then that night, when the Toll House gang did their own set in the evening, they returned the compliment, with nice words from the stage about our performance at the start of the day. Following up a few days later, Charlie emailed Toll House leader Mike Evans to thank him him for the kind words. “The THJB band and fans really did enjoy The 1937 Flood at the breakfast session,” Mike wrote back. “I think it is quite a positive reflection on your band that a crowd of traditional jazz fans enjoyed your music so much. You guys are very authentic -- no pretenses, just heartfelt music and having fun doing it. It was nice to have that style represented at the festival."

Meanwhile, back to Chuck, the May 5, 2001, gig became part of Flood lore because, as we told itit was the first time Romine really noticed what we were saying in those songs. Here’s Charlie telling that story to a Coon-Sander audience a few years later:

STORY:

-- Chuck Finally Hears the Words. When Romine first started playing with us, he was so busy learning the chords and arrangement to all those new songs. Here Charlie tells a Coon Sanders Nighthawks Reunion Bash audience how we were actually that very stage when Chuck finally noticed the risque lyrics to some of the song.

May 5, 2001: After the Coon-Sander breakfast show, Dave and Charlie plays Heritage Farm’s spring fest with Bill Hoke sitting in. "After the Coon Sanders set that morning, we all went our separate ways," Charlie told his mom in a later email. "Joe headed off to Morgantown for the evening gig, Doug went home to Ashland to some company, Chuck went off to assorted Derby Day parties and Dave and I headed over to Heritage Farm to play an afternoon set for the open house out there. We drafted Bill to join us for that and had a neat hour's worth of Applachian tunes, with two- and three-part harmony. The crowd seemed to like it, and they broadcasted it outside of the building we were playing in."

May 20, 2001: Joe, David, Charlie and Doug headed over to Chuck and Phyllis Romine's house to play at a Sunday afternoon picnic, which also was a meeting of "The Regency Club," a local ballroom dance club that goes back to the 1920s.

2001-picnic

" Quite a snazzy crowd for us," Charlie told his mom in an email. "A judge, several state legislators, current and former city council members -- and they seemed to love the music. And we had the whole band there -- we weren't sure that Doug was going to be able to join us, but he called yesterday afternoon and said he'd like to follow Pamela and me there, since he wasn't sure of the directions, having been there only once. His wife, Donna, was with him and seemed to have a good time too.”

May 26, 2001: For the second year in a row, David, Joe and Charlie play at the Vandalia Gathering, and again, Doug Chaffin couldn't join us, but this time we drafted bassist Jim Martin of St. Albans to sit in with us. “We got there early," Charlie told his mom in an email. "Joe wanted us to arrive by 1 or a little after, because he was sure when we were to go on. He was emceeing the fiddle contest that would occur before our show and it depended on how many fiddlers they had enter. Well, they had a lot, so instead of going on at 2:30, it was closer to 4, but that was okay. Pamela explored the show, including the crafts tents, while I visited with old friends among the musicians."

vandalia2001

Before The Flood went on stage, we warmed up with Jim. Sinc he played with jazz guys as well as folkies, he had no trouble keeping up with us. In fact, he was able to take solos on tunes he was hearing for the first time. We played a 45-minute set and the crowd seemed to like it, laughing along with us on the funny jugband stuff.

2000-thequartetJune 6, 2001: The Flood began recording its first CD, gathering in Charleston at the studios of Joe’s “Musicfrom the Mountains” radio show on West Virginia Public Radio. Working the controls that evening was the Buddyincomparable Buddy Griffin, who is not only a world-class fiddler, but also first-rate at fiddling with the knobs and levers of audio engineering.

At that initial session, The Flood was still a foursome — Joe, Dave, Doug and Charlie — though by the end of the summer, the band would grow by 50 percent when we were joined by Chuck Romine on banjo and Sam St. Clair on harmonica. Because of our population growth, many of the tunes recorded as a quartet in that preliminary session would have to be re-recorded as a sextet when we got together with Buddy again in the fall. However, a few of the tunes from that June 6, 2001, recording session found their way on to the introductory CD, including this rendition of “Fair and Tender Maidens.”

Incidentally, this number has its own long history with The Flood. The late Roger Samples helped Charlie come up with the unusual arrangement of this old folk song while sitting at the kitchen table of the Bowens’ house some time in the mid-1980s. It was a tribute to Rog’s long history with The Flood that we wanted to include the song on the first CD.

July 4, 2001: It was supposed to be a spectacular evening. The Flood was invited to play for a party on the roof of River Tower, a tall building a block from the beautiful Ohio River. It was a freebie, but the incentive was that we would have a really close-up view of a much-touted $10,000 fireworks show on the river that evening. Now, as often happens in the valley in summertime, it had been raining for days, and it was rainy on the morning of the 4th; however, things cleared up by mid-afternoon and everyone – the band and the wives and girlfriends – were looking forward to The Big Boom.


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Alas, the radio station sponsoring the fireworks canceled the show after moving its country music concert inside the civic center because high water on the river. Still, the rooftop party was nice, and we got some nice pictures of the band. In fact, Charlie would end up using one of the shots from that day when he designed the cover of Joe’s “Fiddle and The Flood” album later that year.

July 12, 2001: The band’s website – www.1937flood.com – went "live" with about 50 visitors in the first two days.

July 17, 2001: The band played an evening gig at a church in Charleston, entertaining a party of Union Carbide retirees. “We did more of a mixed bag of music for them ... swing tunes, mixed up with Appalachian songs, jugband music and fiddle tunes. The crowd gave us a standing ovation at the end, so I'm guessing they liked it.”

samJuly 25, 2001: Harmonicat Sam St. Clair joined the band. Earlier that month, Charlie had met Sam following a meeting of the Rotary Club where Bowen had been invited to speak about his up and coming web design business.

Fellow Floodster Chuck Romine, a long-time Rotarian, had gotten Charlie the speaking gig; Sam was a member of the same Rotary and in the audience that afternoon. After the talk, they chatted and Sam mentioned that he played harmonica. Charlie jumped at the chance to invite him to sit in at the next Flood rehearsal, where Sam so rocked the evening that the group by unanimous acclamation voted to invite him to join the family.

Over the years, many members have come and gone in The Flood, but Sam has been a happy constant, his solid harp lines a defining characteristic of the band’s sound, his humor one of the spices in its recipes. And the good times started right away.

Within days of joining the band, Sam started playing live shows with The Flood. For instance, less than a month after that first rehearsal evening, The Flood played a new club in downtown Huntington called Masquerade Dinner Theater. The club itself did not endure — it was gone within the year — and there’s no recording of the band’s sets there. However, we do have this recording of our Aug. 11, 2001, audition for the gig. Here’s a snippet, featuring Sam’s memorable solo on “Sweet Georgia Brown.”

Meanwhile, if you'd like to listen to a randomly selected playlist of Sam St. Clair tunes from his decades with The Flood, check out this Sam Channel on our Radio Floodango feature.

STORIES:

-- Sam's Hoo-Hoo's. As we considered working on an old rock tune, we couldn't decide who would do the hoo-hoos, but then Br'er Sam stepped up. Here's the moment.

-- The Space-Age Harmonica. Talking with host Brad Becker of Lexington's Red Barn Radio, Sam discusses his latest high-tech harp.

-- The Jew's Harp. Sam is always looking for new instruments to add to his arsenal. Here was the evening he brought in the jew's harp.

-- The Nose Flute. And then there was the short-lived Nose Flute Experience.

-- Sam's Wonderlust. On a 2002 episode of his "Music from the Mountains" radio show, Joe talks to Sam about his urging for world travel.

-- Gypsy Sam. Talking with host Arthur Hancock at a 2012 Red Barn Radio concert, Sam discusses his ramblin' ways.

Aug. 5, 2001: Just before Pamela and Charlie left the house at a quarter of six to drive up the hill to the Romines' house for the weekly jam, the phone rang and it was Joe Dobbs, back from his five days of camping at the Clifftop Festival. He'd had about two hours' sleep, but he was still coming down to the jam session at Chuck's, "but I really got to stop and eat first," he said. "I gotta get some real food. I've been living on Vienna Sausages for a week!"

"Phyllis is gonna feed us, Joe, before we play."

"She is?! I'll be there in a half hour!"

And he was. And she did. Chuck had prepared a tenderloin, and Phyllis had broccoli souffle and fresh tomatoes, green beans and watermelon, with peaches and ice cream for dessert. Beat the heck outa Vienna Sausages.. After the dinner, we all moved out to their screened-in porch and played for a few hours.

"We missed Doug -- the bass has spoiled us so much -- but we had a good rocking session," Charlie told his mom in an email. "Even worked on a few of our newer tunes. And we talked about auditioning for that new restaurant, maybe next Monday, a week from today. We'll see.”

Aug. 19, 2001: By late summer 2001, The Flood quartet that was Doug, Joe, David and Charlie had expanded by two. Chuck had been playing with us since January and in July, Sam had joined the family, so when the group played at the short-lived Masquerade Dinner Theater in downtown Huntington, it was as a sextet.

The owner of the new venue was overly optimistic about his venture’s prospects; he expected to have a comedian on stage every weekend and a jazz band every Wednesday, and after auditioning The Flood in early August, he said he wanted to have us for two shows every Sunday evening for the next six weeks. Alas, Masquerade wasn’t around for six weeks; word quickly spread that the food was pretty bad and the kitchen even closed before The Flood’s second set at its first and last performance there.

Still the evening rated a spot in The Flood memory book because WSAZ-TV swung by and videoed this bit of our set for the evening news. It is the first video we have the 21st century edition of The Flood.

 

It is the first video we have the 21st century edition of The Flood.

Aug. 21, 2001: The band returned to play Woodlands Retirement Community in the hills overlooking Huntington, including, for the first time, a short set back in the "health care" wing, where, Charlie told his mom later, "most there are in wheelchairs and many really can't obviously react. One of the ladies there was celebrating her 101st birthday yesterday, and we sang "Happy Birthday" to her. And while most of the people listening don't seem to be hearing, if you look at their feet, you see they're tapping ever so softly. That's quite a moving thing to see, to realize that your music is touching them, even if they can't show it."

Afterwards, the hosts fed the band in the facility's beautiful dining room. "A lot of the folks brightened when they saw us," Charlie noted in the email, "saying, 'Is there music tonight?'" After dinner, we gathered in the auditorium and tuned up again. The place filled with 75 to 100 people and we launched into our regular show, heavy on swing tunes and funny, upbeat jugband songs. We got them laughing and singing along. They really enjoyed it, as always"

Sept. 14, 2001: We honestly didn’t feel much like playing music. We were still in shock from the atrocity of the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Images from that horrendous day were still fresh and raw, and silence seemed more appropriate than anything we could sing or even say. Still, we had already been booked to play a Friday evening’s educational show at Marshall University’s Jamie Jazz Center along with other area musicians.

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For the night, we altered our set list, removing the silly jug band tunes and upbeat comedy numbers in favor of ballads. Here’s a moment from that night, as Dave leads us on the old Appalachian folk tune, “Banks of the Ohio" Sept. 14, 2001

STORIES:

-- Marshall University Meets The Flood. Here's Joe's introduction of the band to the Marshall University audience.

-- About that Jug Band. Charlie discusses Appalachian music and culture's connection to weirdness such as jugband music.

Sept. 19, 2001: The Flood finished recording its first CD, mixed and engineered by the incomparable Buddy Griffin. Actually, for most of the tracks we slated for the CD, Buddy had already recorded Dave Peyton, Joe Dobbs, Charlie Bowen and Doug Chaffin the previous June. However, in the several months since that first session, The Flood had grown by a third with the addition of two new Dave-1978members, Sam St. Clair and Chuck Romine, and now we needed to get them on the CD too. "Well, just come on back," Buddy said. "Once more, with feeling -- AND banjo and harmonica!"

It was a busy evening in that little Charleston studio, and it was about to get a whole lot busier before it was done. That's because after The Flood session was over and everyone was packing up for the drive home, Joe cornered Doug and Charlie and asked them to hang around because he had an idea to "record just a couple more things." Well, that "couple more" became another "couple more" and then a "couple more" after that until by midnight the trio (the little band within a band that would come to call itself "Flood Lite") recorded the dozen tracks that would be the core of Joe's own "Fiddle and the Flood" album.

So, Sept. 19, 2001, was the one evening that gave birth to two CDs. "The next morning," Doug recalled with a chuckle earlier this week, "I didn't have any feeling left in the fingers, but, I swear, I'll never know how Joe even held his fiddle for five hours, much less less played it like that!" Here's a link to one of the tracks from that memorable night.

Twenty years later we put the entire album online as part of our Radio Floodango feature.

STORIES:

-- Two CDs in One Night. Doug, Chuck and Charlie remember recording the first Flood CD -- AND Joe's "Fiddle and The Flood" album.


Oct. 23, 2001: Invited by Joe's friend professor Fred Meyers, Flood Lite played the first of what would become more than a half dozen delightful little annual gigs over the next decade at West Virginia University Institute of Technology (affectionately known as “WV Tech”) at its original venue in Montgomery, WV. But initially, when Joe set up the jWV Techob, Charlie didn’t even know where they were to play. “I was really sort of surprised,” Charlie told his mom in an email later. “I thought we were to playing at some kind of club meeting or something. … Don't know how we got that job, but it certainly paid well -- Joe and I split $300 for an hour's playing.”

Charlie met Joe that morning at Hurricane and followed him on I-64 up to the Bob Evans in Charleston where he parked and rode the rest of the way with Joe in his van. “Beautiful day for the drive,” Charlie wrote. “The trees still have some leaves here, though they'll probably be coming down in this week's rains and winds. Anyway, we got to Montgomery and were met by the professor who invited us and he got us set up on a little stage in the cafeteria.”

When Charlie found out they were playing for college kids, he tossed out the set list he had created for the gig -- which was largely swing tunes -- and “we just winged it, playing a mix of blues and jugband pieces, folk songs, swing numbers and fiddle tunes. The kids seemed to like it, though, of course, they were mainly involved in eating in a hurry before their next classes.”

Oct. 24, 2001: Jamming at the Romines, Joe brought West Virginia singer-songwriter Kate Long along to listen and, Charlie told his mom in an email, "she seemed to really enjoy the music. I think she was surprised, actually, because usually string bands in our area have a pretty predictable sound -- they're either bluesgrass bands or what's called 'old-timey,' playing the recorded mountain and southern music of the 1920s and '30s. So people who have such preconceived notions are gonna be rocked back on their heels by a band to launches into 'Moonglow' and 'Mack the Knife.'" The jam session ended with a bang -- about 11:30, the lights went out. Literally. "Heckuva storm hit here about that time," Charlie's email added, "and so we all had to creep off that hillside, dodging fallen branches."

Nov. 7, 2001: We did an encore performance at a benefit for Huntington’s YWCA, following up on a fundraiser we performed there the previous year. “We had a full house,” Charlie told his mom in an email the next day, “and they really seemed to like the music. Even gave us a standing ovation at the end. We did two sets, each with a mix of swing numbers and jugband tunes, Appalachian folksongs and fiddle tunes. It was a ball.

2001-ywca "Fun too chatting with the folks between the sets. Apparently a lot of them had visited our Web site and knew a little about the band before we got there. There also was a reporters and a photographer from the Herald-Dispatch. The reporter, a friend of Dave's, says he'd like to do ‘a spread' on the group when the CD comes out.”

STORIES:

-- Take It, Chuck!. Chuck Romine couldn't always make the gigs -- especially when he and Phyllis were needed in the Florida sunshine... -- but that didn't always stop Charlie for calling on him to play.


SamNov. 24, 2001: Flood Lite played for a holiday gathering of Marshall University international students at a house near campus that Floodster Sam St. Clair and his family’s firm, Huntington Realty Co., provided for them. As Charlie emailed his mom the next day, “The guys and I had a good time at the party last night. ... There were more people in the audience with accents than is usual around here. Lots of folks from Mexico and South America, but also from France and England. Fun to watch their reaction to our strange bag of tunes. Tasso Lugon

"Also on hand was a very good guitarist from Brazil who played sambas and a first-rate piano player from Mexico.They played between our two sets. Neither Doug nor Chuck could make it, so it was just a quartet last night, but it went fine."

And about that great samba-playing guitarist, Tasso Lugon, a judge in the supreme court of southeastern state of Espirito Santo, had been coming to the U.S. for decades through the International Partners of the Americas Program, under which Espirito Santo and West Virginia are "sister states."

Through that international work, Tasso became a good friend of Jim and Mickey St. Clair of Huntington, and he found a kindred spirit in their music-loving son, Sam. He found even more of an extended West Virginia musica family in The Flood, following the band's activities online, and always attending jam sessions whenever he was back in the states. Meanwhile, today back home in Vitoria, Brazil, Tasso still is active in the music scene.

Dec. 17, 2001: New Floodsters Chuck Romine and Sam St. Clair, both long-time Rotarians, talked us into doing a short short for their friends down at the Huntington Rotary Club. Dougcouldn't make it, so Joe talked a neighbor -- a wonderful St. Albans, WV, bass player named Jim Martin -- to sit in with us for the 45-minute set.

Jim MartinAs Charlie told his mom in an email the next day, “Our Rotary Club job went great. We wowwed them. I don't know what they were expecting, but we jumped from swing tunes ('Up a Lazy River') to an Appalachian three-part harmony piece to a jugband tune and we got the heads rocking in the hall. That was cool. And Jim, our substitute bass man, was fabulous. Really tied it all together.”

The Rotary Club show was a freebie, but it did lead to a paying gig, the Christmas party of Goodwill Industries just three days later.

Dec. 20, 2001: As much of The Flood Lore has happened off-stage as on-stage. Take, for instance, the wondrous strange gig at the Goodwill Christmas party. It all started when the guys decided to caravan over to the venue at Marshall University Student Center. Well, let Charlie tell it. Here's the report he made to his mom in an email the nexrt day:

"Joe and Doug both arrived at the house here about 6:30, we decided that I would ride with Joe and that Doug would follow along in his car," Charlie wrote. "Doug pretty much has to drive himself, because the bass takes up most of the rest of the car. Well, Doug is not real familiar with Huntington and, lord love him, he says he can get lost on the way to the grocery store... So, we're toolin' down the road in the dark on our way to Marshall's student center and Joe looks in the rearview mirror and says, 'Uh, I think we lost Doug.' Shoot! I look back and sure enough, there's an unfamiliar SUV behind us and no Doug in sight. When get Marshall, Joe's saying, 'I think I better go back and find him.'"

Of course, Charlie's thinking, "Uh, I don't know that THAT's good idea. Isn't that gonna leave us with TWO missing guys?" Still, Joe could be stubborn about this stuff. "So, I get out of the car at Marshall," Charlie said in his email, "and start walking toward the front of the student center. Up ahead, I see a car that looks like Doug's -- at least from a distance -- pulling into the circular driveway in front of the student center. I hurry toward it, thinking that if that if I see that that's Doug, I'll turn and signal Joe to stop.... Of course, it didn't work out THAT smoothly. No, by the time I get about halfway between the two of them, the BOTH pull out -- Joe in one direction, Mystery Car in the other. And of course, Mystery Car DID turn out to contain one Doug Chaffin."

It was about then that Dave Peyton drove up right behind us all as we were leaving the house and was a witness when Joe pulled away and left Doug stranded at a stop light. Dave, being a smart man, realized what had happen and hung around to guide Doug into the student center.

Santa Joe"So," now we had Doug, but we had LOST Joe," Charlie reported. Fortunately, Sam was patiently waiting for us inside, harmonicas in hand, and the four of them -- Dave, Doug, Sam and Charlie -- climbed the stairs and set up. And at 7 o'clock, as scheduled, we began our half-hour set, without Joe.

"We had to select from different tunes, ones that didn't depend so heavily on the fiddle," Charlie noted. "We let the audience in on our situation, and everyone got a good laugh over it.... Especially when half way THROUGH the set -- at 7:15 -- Joe comes strolling in in his red and white hat and we all shouted (in mid-song), 'Here comes Santa Claus!!!' We finished up with Joe there -- the crowd loved the whole thing -- and afterwards, we sold a hundred dollars worth of CDs, so they must have enjoyed it.

" I'm amazed at how tight The Flood has become, that we can put on a show with only two-thirds of the band there. 'We're as adaptable as crescent wrench!' Dave commented afterwards. Ain't it the truth... And now we have another story for The Flood Files.”

Dec. 31, 2001: Joe, David, Doug and Charlie gathered at the Nancy McClellan trailer to play at the annual New Year’s Eve Party. "It certainly wasn't my favorite jam session of all times -- because of all this congestion, I really couldn't hear at all -- but because we practice all the time, I knew what I was supposed to be playing and singing," Charlie told his mom in an email later, "and Pamela said later it sounded just fine. I guess all those jam sessions every Wednesday night really pay off. There was a real good bunch of friends there and it was fun visiting with them. And Harvey and Nancy were so touched by the dedication to them on The Flood CD. Harvey, especially, was just beside himself. Makes you feel good.”

 

2002

Jan. 5, 2002: We launched our official promotion of the new album with a Saturday afternoon open house at Joe's Fret 'n Fiddle shop in St. Albans, WV. As Charlie reported to his mom in an email the next morning, "We all had a ball. And there was a house full at the thing. I was really surprised at the turnout.

2002-FnF

"We didn't sell a whole lot of CDs, for two reasons," he noted. "Lots of folks in the crowd already had copies, either having brought them previously or receiving comp copies from someone in the band. Also, most of the people in the shop to hear us were our fellow musicians and, hey, the sad fact is that musicians don't buy each other's CDs that much. There's an old joke -- how many guitar players does it take to change a light bulb? 20 -- one to change it, and 19 to say, 'I coulda done that better!'

"Still, it's fun wowwing your peers -- I think a lot of folks were amazed at the kind of stuff The Flood does -- and we got to visit with a lot of old and new friends," Charlie wrote. "We got to Fret 'n' Fiddle at noon, went on for our first set at 1 p.m., took a break for lunch around 2 as others were playing, then came back and visited and listened, then went back on at 3:30. It was 5 by the time we got back home.”

Before we left for the day, Rusty Marks of The Charleston Gazette cornered the guys for a story about the new album and the upcoming CD release party in Huntington. Rusty's piece would, seen here, appeared in the paper on Jan. 10.

The launch of the "grand tour" also was featured in this entry in Flood Watch.

Jan. 9, 2002: At mid-morning, Charlie got a call from Steve Eschleman at WSAZ-TV, wanting to do an interview and some video about the band's upcoming concert scheduled to promote the new album. As Charlie told his mom in a later Steveemail, "I told him that we have a jam session that night that he could come to, but he said that would be too late, that they wanted it for the 6 o'clock broadcast. So, I suggested he might want to use the file footage of the band they shot last August when we played at the Masquerade. He said, 'Hmmmm, maybe that and an interview with you.' Well, I didn't really want to be interviewed -- I suggested he talk with Dave, 'cuz Dave's much better known. (Heck, in Huntington, people will come to the thing just to stare at Peyton. I also gave him Joe's number.)

"To make a long story short, the guy couldn't reach Dave – line busy -- and he figured he couldn't get up Joe's icy hill there in Hurricane. So, Joe suggested that he and Dave meet here at my house at 3 this afternoon.Well, it all worked out fine. Steve came at a little before 3 and started setting up and Joe and Dave arrived shortly afterward. The guy filmed us playing a couple of tunes, then I had him interview Dave and Joe. And it went beautifully."

In a half hour, it was done. And three hours later it was on the air. Steve did a remarkable time of editing the music and the words into a two and half minute report that ended with news of the CD and the gig. Consequently, all the guys were in a great mood when they arrived at 7:30 or so for the jam session and we rocked all evening, working on old tunes and new tunes alike.

By the way, Steve Eschleman would play an interesting role in another bit of Flood lore four years later.

Jan. 11, 2002: On a chilly winter evening, several hundred die-hard Flood fans came to a party at the Renaissance Ballroom in the old Huntington High School to celebrate the first of the band’s first CD.

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As noted, earlier in the week WSAZ-TV helped us spread the word about the party through a story by the late, great Steve Eschleman who came by the Bowen house to visit with Joe, Dave and Charlie. Below is the video of Steve’s Jan. 9, 2002, story and then the station’s quick snippet of the show itself.

 

Look quick and you’ll also see 7-year-old Zoey Stull in her first public performance as our featured dancer. Of course, we won’t take credit for inspiring the youngster, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t note that Zoey, daughter of Sam and Joan St. Clair, would continue her performing career, studying dance at Virginia’s Redford University, from which she recently graduated.

Also, dear friend journalist Dave Lavender, who was relatively new on the scene, wrote a nice advance story about the band and the show for Huntington's Herald-Dispatch, seen here.

Jan. 20, 2002: The band played its third show since the autumn of 1999 at Tamarack near Beckley, WV, the first such outing for the two newest Floodsters, Chuck Romine and Sam St. Clair, who had joined up just the year before. The gig was a little different than the previous two Tamarack shows; snowstorms that weekend reduced the audience to only about 75 percent what we usually had, but it was still an enthusiastic crowd. As Charlie told his mother in an email the next day, “Every time we play Tamarack, we also make a point of asking how many West Virginians are in the audience and usually it's about a third. This time it was about two-thirds. That told us the tourists numbers were down, probably because of the wether, but we also took it as a good sign that we had local folks coming out specifically to hear us, which is certainly flattering. We played our regular set, plus a few extras -- things we were just then working on, and even one or two things that we just improvised right on stage.”

Tamarack would be the beginning of year of intense touring for the band, as it tampered around the region promoting its newly released first CD. The next 10 months would find us traveling for shows north as far as Steubenville, Ohio, and Wheeling, west to Morehead, Ky., and east to Lewisburg, Randolph County and Cranberry Glades.

Jan. 23, 2002: The band headed up to the Park Hills section of Huntington on McCoy to jam at "the big house" where Joan and Sam St. Clair house had just moved, an evening Floodsters would remember as "jamming at the Gatsbys. “Wow," Charlie told his mom in an email later, "Sam grew up in an amazing house! Joe and Doug arrived at 7:30. I drove with Joe and Pamela and Doug followed along in his car, following Sam's directions. You enter the property through a set of sandstone gates and Sam Housethen climb a long driveway to the houses. That's right, plural. There's a main house and several smaller places that were servant quarters, barns and garages, many of them now apartments that the St. Clairs rent. The Big House was built in 1912 of poured concrete. Inside are rooms and rooms of natural walnut panelling and oak floors. Sam couldn't tell me how many rooms it has -- 'I've never counted them' -- and each of the downstairs rooms is huge. All are filled with Victorian antiques and oriental vases, Persian rugs on the floor and original paintings on the walls. It was a true Great Gatsy experience."

Sam was 14 when his parent, Mickey and Jim St. Clair, sold the house in the South Side and moved up there to the property known in the city records as both "The Freeman Estate" and "Park Hill Farm." In those days, the house had fallen into great disrepair. The grounds -- there are 250 acres with the house -- were all overgrown, and Sam remembered spending his childhood living in the basement of the place as his parents worked on the house. "It sure didn't look like this when I was living here," he said.

As the Huntington Quarterly later wrote about the place, "When Jim and Mickey St.Clair undertook restoration of the 250-acre Freeman estate on McCoy Road they uncovered modern innovations unique in a 1912 mansion. Fully electric - at a time when that was rare, it also features an intercom system, gas-heated clothes drying cabinets and walk-in closets. Now the steel, poured concrete, brick and stone home showcases Mickey’s lovingly renovated woodwork and grounds, as well as two of its original furnishings: an Oriental rug and the hall chandelier."

pamela




Feb. 2, 2002:
The Flood finally got the female supervision it had long been needing for so long when Pamela Bowen, Charlie’s wife, agreed to be the band’s manager, a position she still holds today.

It was a major shift in thinking for our original old-boy band. Up until Pamela’s involvement, we all tended to let people "low ball" us on the price for performance. Pamela, by contrast, had no qualms in marketing the outfit, getting higher paychecks, especially when jobs took us on the road.

And going into Flood control was a natural fit for Pamela, who had been in The Flood zone since the beginning. In fact, for many of those 30- and 40-year-old recordings we cherish from our collective youth, it was Pamela who was pushing the buttons on the old reel-to-reel recorder at all those parties.

 

 


Feb. 7, 2002: David and Charlie recorded an interview about the new album for Joe's “Music from the Mountain” show on West Virginia Public Radio. " Joe wasn't quite ready when David and I got there," Charlie told his cousin Kathy in a later email, "so we hung around chatting up the receptionist. Such flirts in this band -- I tell ya... Get a buncha hams together and... well, anyway, about 1:30 we got down to business, recording a one hour show. Joe interviewed Dave and me between playing tracks from the CD. It was an all-Flood hour, with several plugs on how to get the CD from the Web site or by mail. Shameless plugs, but hey, Joe figures what's the good of being on the radio if you can't use it for your own purposes from time to time! ... I figure we'll get some response on the site, 'cuz Joe's got a hot little show -- among the three most popular on the network.”

Feb. 9, 2002: The guys played a Valentine’s party at a local church. "We had a roomful," Charlie said in an email to his cousin Kathy.

2002-valentines

"We got a standing ovation at the end and an encore," Charlie added in the email. "We gave them a good solid hour of music and good humor. Everybody in the band was on that night -- playing well and cracking jokes and the crowd really responded."

Feb. 12, 2002: The band traveled to the capitol city to at the University of Charleston “multicultural” event as part of the school's WorldFest 2002, its annual International and Multicultural Festival.

Feb. 19, 2002: The band was booked to play in Charleston for a lobbyist's party for legislators, a gig Charlie described as only "okay" in his post-show email to his mom."The money was good, and the guyz all sounded great. Doug the bass player was having a particularly fine evening, I thought, playing licks I've never heard him do before. And Sam, our young harp honker, was very 'on.' It's hard to believe, he might be even more of a ham than the rest of us! 

"The crowd, well, alas, it was thin, but through no fault of ours. The lobbyist lady who hired us didn't get her signals straight at all. She told us the thing began at 7 p.m., so we were there by 6:50. However, actually it started at 6:30. There were a bunch of people there right then, but then they left, to go next door to another legislative party where the asphalt people were offering a sit-down steak dinner with speakers and a mental telepathist. Our lady was apologetic, and paid us anyway, and the few people that were there (maybe 30 to 50 at time) enjoyed the music. All in all, it was an okay evening -- as you say, nice to be paid well to do what we would have probably done for free. Just not in Charleston. 8^)”

Feb. 28 – March 3, 2002: Eager to get out of the winter doldrums, The Flood kicked off a series of gigs by playing an open house reception for the West Virginia Division of Tourism’s new headquarters in Charleston. We got that job because of the band's new banjo guru, Chuck Romine, also a former member of the state House of Delegates. 2002Chuck gave Gov. Bob Wise a copy of the band's first CD, and the governor passed it along to the tourism folks with a recommendation. (Gov. Wise would have his own interactions with the band in a week or so, making his Flood-power clogging debut at the capitol.) The tourism center gig was a fun afternoon of tunes and stories. Ironically, Chuck himself couldn't make the show. By then, he had, as we liked to say in those days, “gone to a better place …. uh, Florida...." The snowbird would return in a few weeks. This evening was also reported in this entry in Flood Watch.

The next day, the guys returned to Huntington to play a Friday night show at the now-defunct Borders bookstore at the Huntington Mall. It was a cool evening – standing room only. All the seats were taken, and the crowd was three deep all around the edges for the whole concert. "The guys were so turned on by the reception that everybody played especially well, I thought, and the patter between the songs was great," Charlie told his cousin Kathy later in an email. "We took a break after an hour and I thought, 'Well, we'll lose 'em now,' but no, they stayed for the second set -- still every seat taken. We were so flattered. It was like the Renaissance evening in January all over again. I talked to some folks in the audience who said they go to the Borders Friday evenings often and that we were the best group they've heard there. Doug, our bass player, said he and Donna came up to a performance by another local grou, a few weeks ago and the crowd would fluctuate -- sometimes full, sometimes half full -- but our bunch stayed for the whole thing. Quite a high for the guys.”

Then on March 3, the band played at the 100th anniversary celebration of the Cabell County Public Library. During the summer, the library sponsored noontime concerts on Fridays on the pedestrian plaza outside, and if it rained, the band moved to a space inside the library. The Flood performed in this inside space.

Here's a snippet of the day as reported by WOWK-TV and WSAZ-TV:

 


STORIES:

-- Which One of 'em's Dave Peyton?! We recall a funny moment from that day at the library bash, courtesy of the late, great local funny man, George Mallot. The clip starts with Peyton talking about stories he had written for the Huntington newspapers.

-- A Request from the Ladies. And here's another story by George from the same venue.

March 6, 2002: The Flood partied in Charleston with Gov. Bob Wise and his friends and foes in the Wwiseest Virginia Legislature and the state capital press corps. It was David Peyton who landed us the gig as part of “The Third House,” a popular annual spoof of the lawmakers orchestrated by Marshall University's W. Page Pitt School of Journalism and Mass Communication Alumni Association. The evening of parody skits and songs, presented at the Cultural Center Theater, roasted state government leaders, most of whom were in the audience. The Flood not only provided accompaniment for some of the musical numbers, but also preformed a half-hour pre-show set. All the participants wore signs with names of the officials they were portraying. The hit of the show was the Flood’s rewritten version of “Jug Band Music” with words like “If you want a higher limit on your overloaded coal truck, I’ll give you a million pounds for a thousand bucks – campaign finance certainly is a treat to me.” Peyton wrote the song, and there were audible gasps several times during the performance.

In a highlight of the night, as shown in the WSAZ-TV video click above, Gov. Wise — a clog-dance enthusiast — hoofed it during one of Joe’s rollicking fiddle tunes.

 

The Flood had such a good time that the band came back for an encore in the 2003 show, when Wise supporters presented him with a pair of "clogging shoes" to commemorate his Flood debut.

STORIES:

-- Remembering the Third House. In a fall 2002 episode of his "Music from the Mountains" show, Joe and David remember the good times of playing The Third House show.

Charles IvesMarch 12, 2002: Dave Peyton was “guest kazooist” with the Marshall University Symphony Orchestra, "first-chair kazoo," Charlie told his mom in an email the next day, "in a Charles Ives experimental piece written in the early 1920s."

kazooIves wrote some pretty strange music -- even a hundred years later, it sounds pretty dang odd -- most impressionistic numbers. This one tried to capture the sounds of a football game -- a specific football game between Havard and Yale in 1897, including the sounds of the cheers, the band warming up, the players on the field and the roar of the crowd.

"Dave led a group of kids on kazoo playing the part of the crowd," Charlie said in his email. "What a hoot! And when Dave was introduced, he got the biggest hand of the evening.”

March 13, 2002: Flood Lite (Joe, Dave and Charlie) made the group's last evening excursion to Sophia, WV, wrapping up the annual Tams Mountain Adventures the trio had started five years earlier. "Another fun evening in the mountains," Charlie told his mom in a later email. "We all met here at 4:30 yesterday afternoon -- Tom and Sharon Pressman volunteered to drive us there in their van; Dave and Sam met us here and we picked up Joe on the way -- and got on the other side of Tams Mountain at 7 last night.

"It's always quite a trip there. That mountain would be a challenge in the daylight, but we've never seem it in the daylight. Heck, The Flood's even taken that mountain in a snowstorm one year. This year, tho, it was clear and even warm for the journey, so it was smooth sailing all the day. In fact, we got there just a tad early and had to wait out front as the folks were just returning from church.

"As soon as they arrived and we all got our hugs from Martha, the huge mountain mama that runs this show, we set up in the living room and launched into our music for the visiting students from Marquette University. As I've said before, these kids are amazing, devoting their spring break to working in this little community's clinic, painting and fixing up. It's part of a program run by the Catholic church. The college kids -- mostly girls -- are all sweethearts who comes from all over the country, but mostly from the north, around Milwaukee."

As always, the visitors had no idea what to expect from our music. We got them laughing and singing along. And the food this year was even better than usual. One of Martha's many daughters was a professional chef in Henderson, Ky., and she came in to handling fixing the fun this year. "Wow," Charlie reported, " it was prime rib and assorted greens and fruit. What a spread. We took a break to eat and visit with the girls, then jumped back into a quick second set before having to make our goodbyes."

March 22, 2002: The band celebrated the first full day of Spring 2002 by playing the 13th annual Tree Huggers’ Ball, sponsored by the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, at the good old Calamity Cafe on Huntington’s 3rd Avenue across from Marshall University. The gig also marked our first meeting with a bunch of guys who would become good friends, the members of the new Big Rock and the CandyAss Mountain Boys, including Dave Lavender, though those days, they were still a bit shy about that sassy name. In fact, in the June 2002 issue of the OVEC’s E Notes newsletter, the report of the ball noted, “All work and no play makes for dull tree huggers, so each year we hold our Tree Huggers Ball as a fun(d)raiser.Folks look forward to the great music, which this year included Dave Peyton’s band The 1937 Flood and, as always, the mostly-husbands-of-OVEC band, with their latest unprintable name.” We don’t know if represents a growing boldness on their part we’re happy to see that BRATCAMB now flies its candyass flag proudly in its publications and promotions.

But back to the March 2002 show, The Flood prepared a special environment-friendly tune for the night, our take on a 1930s novelty piece “Never Swat a Fly,” a tune that would buzz in and out of our repertoire over the next few decades, finally ending up on a Flood CD in 2016 . Here’s the same song from a 2014 podcast (along with a public service announcement about how the tune is a bit of an ear worm!)

April 6, 2002: The Flood did the first of several gigs we would play in the pub at BrazenHead Inn. Will Fanning’s traditional Irish lodge in the old community of Mingo tucked in the Potomac highlands of southern Randolph BrazenheadCounty, WV, was already special to us, because the inn was one of the sponsors of Joe Dobbs’ “Music from the Mountains” radio show each Friday night on W.Va. Public Radio.

On our set list for the show were tunes from the band’s first CD, released earlier that year, as well as songs already being honed for the second CD, which would be recorded in seven months. But a highlight of that first gig at BrazenHead was not a musical number at all, but a story. It happened this way: While we were re-tuning between songs, David and Charlie noticed that Joe was wearing an especially snazzy sweater that night, and we asked Joe to tell us about it. From that very evening, here’s a rare audio of Joe’s yarn. Incidentally, as you'll hear over the laughter at the end of the story, Joe says, "If I ever write a book, I'm gonna put that story in it!" That's a promise he kept a decade later when he published his book, "A Country Fiddler." And if you were at BrazenHead that night, you heard it here first.

April 17, 2002: Before he left to fly out for a trip to Charleston, S.C., Sam came by the jam session to drop off several dozen of The Flood's new line of t-shirts, which featured daughter Zoey Stull's cute little-girl drawing of the band on the back.

t-shirt

For the next half dozen years or so, Zoey's shirt was a popular item on the merch table at our shows and on the website, and of course everyone in the band got a couple of shirts that night.

April 25, 2002: The Flood caravan rolled east from Huntington and environs to Lewisburg, WV, for a memorable evening at The Greenbrier Valley Theater. Instead of movie-theater-style seating, the theater – which was a converted furniture store – offered a large open space that could be transformed into whatever they need.

lewisburgFor our show, they had a mixture of large tables that seat 8 and small tables that seat 2 all through the room, and a stage built of portable sections at one end.

We were very impressed with the sound check. The guy really knew his stuff, and during the concert, he’d keep adjusting the sound if one of ‘em got too loud. Our manager, Pamela, said it was the best she'd yet heard the band on stage, even from the very back of the room. The theater guy was worried because he had only 38 reservations, but by showtime, all the tables were taken, and we had a ball.

May 4, 2002: It wasn't the greatest day for playing music outdoors -- chilly, muddy and drizzly -- but, as usual, The Flood found a way to make it fun when they'd played the 2002 edition of the Heritage Farm Museum and Village spring festival. "We got out there about 1 o'clock in a light rain and picked out the porch we would play on for the next couple of hours. The only problem was that a gospel group had set up down the lane inside the village church with a huge pair of speakers set up at the front door broadcasting their sound out. It was positively a fillings-rattling roar. So I had to walk up and down the muddy lane looking for someone authorized to ask them to turn off the speakers. That took about 15 minutes, but once we got that worked out, we were good to go and just as we were launching into our first tune, up the lane came our bass player, Doug. It made the afternoon. The difference in this music with and without the bass is astounding. So we had five of us -- Dave, Joe, Sam, Doug and me -- and drew some right nice crowds, considering the nasty weather. We were dry on the porch, but the listeners had to stand in the rain. It was really too chilly to play -- our fingers never really got warm -- but we had a good time as always -- lots of laughs, and we even sold $50 or $60 worth of CDs and t-shirts for the band's bank account.”

May 8, 2002: We returned to “The Big House" of Sam's parent, where Chuck's brother-in-law, Charles Romine, took public relations pictures of the band, one of which would grace the back cover of The Flood's next album, which they would record in November of that year.

2002-may-PR

May 11, 2002: The band played Charleston's Taylor Books for the first of what would be many times over the years. "The crowd was small but enthusiastic," Charlie told his mom in an email later. "The tables were filled for both sets, so I guess that's a good sign. We played two sets last night, wrapping up about 9:30 and by 10, we were on the road back to Huntington."

May 18, 2002: The band played its third of what ultimately be 13 annual "jugband breakfast" sessions at the great Coon-Sanders Nighthawks Fan Reunion Bashes, Huntington's gathering of traditional jazz fans from all across the country

2002-CS

This was the first Coon-Sanders for Sam, who had joined the band the previous summer.

2002 weddingJune 1, 2002: The band played for another wedding at Heritage Farm & Village Museum, this one quite a dress-up affair for the marriage of Tom and Sharon Pressman's son, Michah. “We had a good time," Charlie told his mom in an email later, "though the weather sure didn't cooperate for an outdoor affair. It was pretty 2002 Weddinghot and muggy there, for starters. It had been raining off and on all day. We got set up and Joe and I were on the stoop, starting to play, up came another rain. So the organizers moved the ceremony inside the little church, which became really hot when all the people arrived. And then, of course, no sooner did we get going in there that it stopped raining and danged if they didn't move it back outside again. But the end of that portion of the gig, Joe and I felt like we'd played three weddings. But other than that, it went off without a hitch. The music we chose seemed to work perfectly. And the ceremony itself was gorgeous, complete with a huge white, horse-drawn carriage. After the ceremony, Joe and I moved over to the stage area and joined the rest of the band for an hour's set of background music for the reception, which seemed to go over well. Heck, we even sold a CD. After the job, we were invited to join them for dinner and it was excellent food. Unfortunately for the partiers, some big rains came up while we were all inside and I think it rained off and on all evening, so the rock 'n' roll dance band that came on after us had a soggy evening of it.”

June 5, 2002: We moved that week's jam to Nancy McClellan’s house on Ashland's Algonquin Avenue, the neighborhood where Charlie's wife, Pamela, had grown up. "We got there at 7, just as Doug and Donna were driving up," Charlie told his mom in an email. "Nancy already had chairs set up for us in the living room, so we sat down and launched right into two solid hours of playing. Some of Nancy's friends and neighbors were there as were all of the members of The Flood Relief Ladies Auxiliary, including Susie Peyton, who was feeling pretty good last night. And everybody sounded great. It was just once of those magic evenings where one person's good playing inspired the next person to play especially well. It was definitely infectious. After a couple of hours, we took a break for food and drink and visiting. After we regrouped for another set, cut short by the arrival for big rains, lightning and thunder.”

June 8, 2002: The Flood was one of four bands on stage at the old Huntington High School’s Renaissance Center auditorium during an event called Renaissance Jam, a fundraiser presented by Arts Resources for the Tri-State. It was the first time The Flood was in a show with old friends Wendell and Linda Dobbs and their band, Shenanigans! (later renamed Blackbirds and Thrushes). Also on the bill were Second Generation and the Blain Brothers Blues Band.

Renaissance

Traci Fricke, who is promoting the show for ARTS, told Dave Lavender of The Herald-Dispatch that the show was a great way to get lots of different folks to check out the new Renaissance Center, which houses various arts groups, a co-op art gallery, a senior housing complex and a YMCA facility. "All the groups that are playing are committed to the Renaissance as a community building," Fricke said. "We are very pleased that they are performing at the jam."

It was a hot evening, and not just musically. The auditorium was not air-conditioned. The night also entered Flood lore as “The Backflip Night.” The youthful Blain Brothers’ acrobatics during and after their tunes had the old men of The Flood looking at their youngster member, Sam, for similar moves. He deferred.

STORIES:

-- The Backflip's Backstory. One of Sam's Flood legends is his much-promised -- and never delivered -- back flip on stage. Here (in a conversation eight years later with our even younger Floodster Jacob Scarr) is the story of Sam's Back Flip.

June 14-16, 2002: The year 2002 was especially busy for the boys as they zipped around the Tri-State and beyond promoting and selling their first CD before, during and after appearances. Joe would later jokingly call it “The Flood's Great Summer Tour,” and said we missed a merch opportunity by not printing up t-shirts! This weekend was typical of the madness, as the group played five gigs over three days in five different towns.

The work started on at 11 on Friday morning in downtown Huntington, when the lads played a picnic at Heritage Station. Stephen Reed“We played for an hour or so at the old gazebo that was just perfect,” Charlie told his mom in an email later. “We all couldhear each other beautifully. Heck, we could have played there all day! But no time. After the gig, we hurried back here from a pit stops, then roared off to Charleston, where we were invited to be on a live radio show from 3 until 5.”

Radio host Stephen Reed, who usually did commentary on a talk show in that time slot, “is a huge fan of the band,” Charlietold Mom, “and for some time has been asking Dave to bring us there. We got all set up by 2:30 and then did the show and it was quite easy. The host and engineer were fun to work with. And and it was cool -- we were playing in the same studio where the late, great Buddy Starcher used to do his radio show back in the '40s and '50s. What a hoot. The highlight of the show, tho, was when we got the host, Stephen, to sing the lead on 'Lulu's Back in Town' on the air. He did it without even a rehearsal. What a gas.”

2002-tamarackThe next day, Flood Lite (Joe, Dave and Charlie) played wedding reception in St. Albans in the afternoon, doing background music ranging from fiddle tunes to swing numbers. “Then we packed up and hustled to Ashland to be there by 5:30 and meet up with the rest of the band to play a picnic at King's Daughters retirement center. Good bunch to play to."

The busy weekend wrapped up in Beckley for another fun Sunday afternoon show at Tamarack.

"We had a full house -- probably 150 people -- and they were very enthusiastic," Charlie said in the email. "That was our fourth time to play Tamarack in the past two years and it's our absolute favorite venue. The theater is wonderful and the audio guys really make you sound good. It was also one most savvy audiences we've had in a while. Why, they knew what to applaud -- and when. "

June 18, 2002: Joe and Charlie played a Juneteenth event.at Hurricane’s Valley Park in Putnam County. "There's a national organization that's honoring Booker T. Washington, the Booker T. Washingtongreat black educator, who actually was reared in Malden in Kanawha County in the years after the Civil War," Charlie told his mom in an email, "so this group is creating something called 'The Freedom Trail' that extends from Tuskeegee, Alabama, where Washington taught most of his career to Malden, where he was brought up, to Franklin County, Va., where he was born a slave. This was the only Putnam County stop by the caravan and Joe and I were asked to play background music for the do, period pieces from the civil war to the turn of the century. ...We played for about an hour, while the folks visited and ate box lunches, then we were fed and we listened the presentation by a man named Joe Butler who does an historic portrayal of Washington. Pretty interesting stuff. I didn't realize that West Virginia figured so prominantly in the educator's life."

June 19, 2002: The Flood played for the first time at Roy Clark and Terre Thomas’ wonderful St. Zita Grille on downtown Huntington’s 10th Street. Roy and Terre served up an astounding spread of Creole cuisine and wanted music to match. The Flood brought a New Orleans-flavored set of jug band and ragtime numbers, mixed with healthy dose of Appalachian fiddle tunes and Americana folk songs.

2002 St Z

zitaThat June 19, 2002,performance also showcased 7-year-old Zoey Stull as our featured dancer. Of course, we won’t take credit for inspiring the youngster, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t note that Zoey, daughter of Sam and Joan St. Clair, would continue her performing career, studying dance at Virginia’s Redford University, from which she graduated this spring. Zoey -- then and now -- is shown in the accompanying photo.

The Flood would perform at St. Zita a number of times in 2002, and a snippet of one of those evening shows in September would be included in a brief “Outlook” documentary about fiddler Joe Dobbs that aired on the “Outlook” show on a West Virginia Public Broadcasting later that year.

June 28, 2002: Playing to a packed house at Morehead University’s 400-seat Duncan Recital Hall, The Flood featured on a show with Ann and Phil Case of Dayton, Ohio, and South Carolinian singer/songwriter Tanya Savory on WMKY radio's Americana Crossroads Live concert series.

Morehead

"Wow!! What a great job you did," WMKY program/production director Paul Hitchcock told the guys later. "I heard so many positive comments on your set.” And because Paul liked it himself, he put a hunk of the Morehead set on the radio’s playlist for air time for months afterwards. In fact, more than a year after the appearance, we still heard from Flood fans saying they heard snippets of the Morehead show on the radio while driving through the Bluegrass state.

The set we played that Friday evening was typical of shows we staged in those days, a rich mix of jugband, swing and fiddle tunes with the occasional folk song. Here are six songs from that memorable night (Sweet Georgia Brown,” “Bill Bailey,” “June Apple,” “Paradise,” “Soldier’s Joy” and “San Francisco Bay Blues, June 28, 2002).

STORIES:

-- How The Flood Got Its Name. Charlie tells a live audience that, because they're nice folks, they won't have to buy the CD to find out how The Flood got its name.

-- How Flood Music Might be Deductible from Your Taxes. The band offers its little-know jugband seminary.

June 29, 2002: The Flood had the gig that the guys would talk about for years to come: Performing with The Huntington Symphony Orchestra down by the riverside. A standing Flood joke in the following months and years is that the size of the crowd on hand that night in Harris Riverfront Park would increase each time Charlie told the tale. (“3,000? Naw. 5,000! Easily!…”)

HSO

But what was really true about the June 2002 evening was what good sports maestro Kimo Furumoto and the HSO members were in hosting West Virginia’s most eclectic string. It was one magic night for The Flood, complete with a standing ovation after each of the band’s 20-minute sets. And when not on stage, the guys rested in an air-conditioned trailer near the stages, “the complete Porter Waggoner Dream!" as Sam said.

The show began with the orchestra playing patriotic numbers, then did several concert pieces, ending with "Pops Hoedown." Then Maestro Furumoto introduced The Flood for its first set. The boys came on to a warm reception, learning instantly that they already had a number of fans in the audience. The Flood opened with an uptempo blues they play as a swing tune that features everybody in the band. Sam, who had lots of family there, was especially hot and his opening solo just seemed to electrify the band and everyone played so well. Doug's bass solo got the next big round of applause -- in fact, every time that night that Charlie said, "Hit it, Doug," the crowd perked up.

Perhaps because the program called the show "Mountain Music Fest" they expected the usual bluegrass standards. What they got was about 180 degrees away from that and they liked it. It was a leisurely time on stage -- we had time to talk and joke with the audience between -- developing a nice rapport with the crowd before wrapping up the first set with their "San Francisco Bay Blues."

Later in the evening, the band returned to play one tune with the orchestra -- a fully-scored version of "Arkansas Traveler" with a solo by Joe. Despite the fact that the arrangement called for the solo to be in the key of C – not a natural key for a mountain fiddler -- Joe nailed it. Next the guys invited little Zoey (already Flood artist and principal dancer) up to hoof it with them on a fiddle tune. Here are three tunes from that portion of the night ("West Virginia, My Home," "Stealin'," and "Whiskey Before Breakfast," June 29, 2002).

Then came the surprise of the evening. During the afternoon rehearsal, Floodsters passed out kazoos to all the members of the orchestra. Had to have a little five-minute kazoo workshop – most of them couldn't figure out how to make any noise with them, but Dave, the Voodoo Kazoo Guru, got them playing in no time. So, then, during the second set, The Flood did its version of "Rag Mama," featuring Dave's great kazoo work. Dave even brought a special wizard’s hat to wear for the occasion. After Dave's solo to demonstrate his kazoory, we turned to the orchestra and said, “Play it, orchestra!” To the amazement (and perhaps horror) of the crowd, all 40 members of their symphony and the maestro himself brought kazoos to quivering lips and let forth a real hummer of an ensemble, as Joe conducted them with his fiddle bow. And that moment of musical history was captured on a recorder in the audience. So, here’s the audio: ("Rag Mama," June 29, 2002) the debut (and the finale) of America’s best trained kazoo orchestra.

The evening also was featured in this entry in Flood Watch.

STORIES:

-- Meet the Guys, Including the Boy Toys! At the live performance with the Huntington Symphony Orchestra, Charlie introduces the usual suspects.

-- Kazoo Education. Ten years after the concert, speaking at a 2012 concert in Lexington, Ky., David tells host Author Hancock about having to teach the orchestra how to play kazoos.

-- Chuck's False Start. A dozen years later, Chuck was still remembering one particular moment from that evening. Here, from the chatting at a 2015 jam sessession, Chuck talks about his false start on "Sweet Georgia Brown."

July 3, 2002: The folks played Cabell County Fair for the 20th anniversary of the fair, sharing the bill with the Stevens Sisters, alternating sets. It was "a sweltering July 4th eve at the Cabell County Fair last night," Charlie told his mom in an email. "It was a real sweat fest. They set us up in a huge -- way too huge -- tent in the center of the fairgrounds where it was even hotter inside than out and no air moving at all. The crowd was small -- the fair never has had a great attendance -- but enthusiastic and we had a good time playing, despite the discomfort from the weather conditions."

july6-2002July 6, 2002: The summer of the 2002 was a particularly busy time for the fellows of The Flood, as we moved about continuing to promote the release of our first commercial CD, “The Band, Not the Natural Disaster.” And the Saturday after Independence Day was especially busy, with two paying gigs in two different cities in the span of six hours under the broiling sun.

We started the day with an ealry afternoon show in Ashland, Ky., at the gazebo in Central Park as part of the city's annual Summer Motion festival. We were slated to play at 12:30, but arrived to find the organizers running a little behind schedule. Charlie didn't mind; he and Pamela had grown up in Ashland, and the delay enabled them to visit with friends and family who read about the show and had come down to catch the 30-minute performance.

Afterward a rollicking set, we headed back to Huntington, grabbed a quick lunch at the West End Cafe on W. 14th Street, across from where Joe's Fret 'n Fiddle music store began in the mid-'70. Then we freshened up and cooled down before reassembling at 7 to play a private party. The do – hosted by John and Ann Speer in the backyard of their spacious South Side home – turned out to be the social event of the summer, with some 250 people streaming in, milling around, chatting, and listening to the music. We played background music from 7 until it was too dark to see our chords.

July 17, 2002: The guys played their second gig at St. Zita’s in downtown Huntington. "The first set, especially, was dynamite," Charlie told his mom in an email. "Everybody was so on. Wish Sam had been there -- he was out of town. ”

July 20-21, 2002: In an irony well known to many bands, The Flood had one of its best gigs and one of its worst gigs ever back-to-back during a 400-mile roundtrip journey to the northern part of the state. The good gig was a Saturday night MtMoonperformance at the wonderful Mountain Moon Coffeehouse in Wheeling, located in the gorgeous Stifel Fine Arts Center, which looks like a Southern mansion. The venue was a private residence until the late 1970s, when it was given to the Oglebay Institute.

There are beautiful gardens in the back. The house is used for events and art exhibits.The huge living room is the coffeehouse, with lots of little tables, ad the event was sold out weeks ahead of time. It’s an honor to be asked to play at this coffeehouse. We had to spend the night 30 miles away in Washington, Pa., because this was the weekend of Festival of the Hills, a huge outdoor country music festival.

This memory-making evening at the wonderful Mountain Moon Coffeehouse was followed by a terrible gig in Steubenville, Ohio. It was a Sunday performance at Jefferson Community College, and the whole thing are fairly miserable. It was outside, and it was deucedly hot. The audience had to bring their own chairs, and they sat them up about 50 feet away from the stage, under some trees. The college hired a professional sound company, but the company let a kid run the board, and he thought he should turn up the knob every time a different instrument had a solo. At intermission, Joe and Charlie finally convinced the kid to leave the knobs alone and the second set sounded better. Still, memory of that job was so sore that it has entered Flood lore and to this day (with apologies for “The City of Murals”) any bad gig is called “a Steubenville.”

STORIES:

-- Stumped in Steubenville. Charlie, Doug and Chuck remember the band's worst gig.

Aug. 10, 2002: The band returned to Randolph County, WV, for to play Brazenhead Inn for the second time since April. "We arrived a little after 5," Charlie told his mom in an email, "plenty of time to settle in, get fed, then set up and play about 7:30. Everybody was in a great mood and the music just rocked. I was thinking as we played -- the Wednesday night jam sessions make the music better, but shows like Saturday night's make us better entertainers. We also got to try out my vocal mike for the first time and it worked just great. We had the audience laughing and sining along with us and I think part of the reason was that they could hear our comments better. We'll be making the vocal mike part of the regular setup now. We also had some folks from Huntington in the audience, friends of Chuck's who were in the area. I think they came to raze Chuck, but were surprised, I think, to discover how good he is. Love moments like that. We played two strong sets, wrapping up at about 10. After visiting for a while, we all took off for our rooms about 11 for a good night's sleep.”

Aug. 12, 2002; The band was hired to play at a re-dedication ceremonies at Rotary Park. “The band had a great time," Charlie told his mom later. "We got there about 11 for our sound check and were thrilled to find that Kevin Bannon was going to run the board for us. Kevin is the same sound man that gave us such great sound at the riverfront park when we played with the Huntington Symphony Orchestra in June. And he was even better this time -- the sound mixing was perfect. And that got everyone in the band excited and we rocked the place. We played for a half hour as the folks were eating -- playing upbeat tunes and funny tunes. They asked us to play a number during the program itself and we did 'West Virginia, My Home.' We got a lot of great feedback from the listeners, and even a great comment on the podium from Congressman Nick Rahall, the guest of honor, who said, 'The music of The 1937 Flood is certainly no natural disaster, for it flows as sweetly and naturally as the Ohio River on a June afternoon.' Ah, silver-tongued devil!"

Aug. 21, 2002: For rhe third time, the band played at St. Zita's restaurant in downtown Huntington. "Another good crowd," Charlie told his mom in an email. "Actually, we're starting to draw people in just to hear us, apparently. Dave and Susie said they were in the place on Tuesday night and it was dead. Last night, by contrast, almost every table was filled and a lot of folks stayed for both sets. We got a lot of good crowd reaction, particularly to the upbeat, jazzy jugband stuff.”

Aug. 22, 2002: The band hit the road to Lexington, Ky., to accept an invitation to play for the evening on WUKY-FM radio's Nick Lawrence’s “Curtains @ 8,” 91.3 on the FM dial.

Following the host's direction around the University of Kentucky campus, "we found our way into the secret side door of McVey Hall," Charlie said in his mom's email, "and up to the fifth floor where the NickLawrencestudios of WUKY-FM are located. Since we arrived before Nick got there, we just unpacked the instruments and started jamming. Doug arrived a little later and, following the sound, found us, got out his bass and by the time Nick arrived at 7:30, we were all tuned up and ready to go.”
Nick's show aired live on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays for one hour, and he had live music most nights. We were to be on the air with a nice singer/songwriter named Carla.

“I figured we'd be splitting the show with her,” Charlie said in the email, “but it turned out Nick gave over most of the show to us, with interviews, five or six live tunes and two cuts from the album. He set us up around three mikes, did a quick sound check and were on the air at 8. After quick introductions, we launched into our first tune, a lively version of ‘I Never Cried 'Til My Baby Got on That Train,' which gives everyone in the band a good long solo. Nick just beamed -- obviously he liked our sound a lot."

Funny things happened all evening. For instance, Nick asked us how we got our name and we told the usual story. "Within five minutes, one of the listeners called," Charlie reported. "He was a doctor in Lexington who grew up in Huntington who called into to tell us how high the water got on his house when he was growing up. We also found out that Nick has a darn good listenership. He announced on the air that he would give away a copy of our CD 'to the ninth caller.' I thought to myself, shoot, we've been on show that it would take an hour to get nine callers! He got them in less than 10 seconds!"

The good Nick Lawrence — himself a musician who sang and played guitar and upright bass — died at 77 in April 2021 from complications of Parkinson's Disease, which he battled for more than 16 years. He hosted his beloved “Curtains @ 8” show at the UK radio station for 24 years.

Sept. 4, 2002: The Flood has always occasionally moved its regular weekly practice session to a friends house and 16 years ago this week, the venue was the beautiful “river house,” the weekend home in Crown City, Ohio, of Bill and Nancy Meadows, about 20 miles upriver from Huntington on the Ohio side.

Meadows

Valley weather in September can be unpredictable, but it was quite cooperative that night in 2002, and the Family Flood had a wonderful time. The Meadows put the band on the deck overlooking the yard, where they set up lots of chairs for friends and neighbors. They grilled hotdogs and had baked beans and potato salad and a whole table full of assorted desserts. We told Nancy to feel free to invite friends, and she did -- 40 of them! So the practice turned into a concert. It was a sweet memory of an evening.

Sept. 6, 2002: The band played the Fraley Festival at Carter Caves, Ky., starting an annual tradition that would continue for years. “It went great," Charlie told his mom in an email, "though it didn't look like it was going to early on. All through the day, I kept hearing from band members telling me they couldn't make it. First, I knew that Chuck had a conflict and wouldn't be able to go. Then later in the day, I called Dave to see if I could ride in with him and found out that he'd had serious computer problems, had been up all night the night before trying to fix 'em and was in no shape to play. And then I heard that Sam couldn't make it either. So we were down to half a Flood to play this little paying gig. But Joe really came through for us. I saw him as soon as I got there and he said, 'No problem,' and ran off to enlist a couple more pickers for us. First, he got Brandon, a young guitar picker to help us out -- Br'andon is quite a good soloist from Lincoln County who has sat in with us before. Moreover, Joe also drafted Mel Cooper, a phenomenal tenor banjo player from Tennessee who is literally legendary among the festival goers as a great swing player. I was honored to be on the same stage with him. Well, we had about an hour before we had to play, so the bunch of us headed out to the parking lot to put together a show of just four songs. We decided to lead off with 'Sunny Side of the Street,' featuring Joe and Mel and with me doing a vocal. Then we followed that will 'Jug Band Music,' with solos from every one. After that, we let Mel sing an old Bob Wills tune and wrapped up the set with an instrumental version of 'Sweet Georgia Brown that showcased Brandon. The crowd loved it. In fact, the organizer told Joe afterwards we were the first set to get the crowd excited. And apparently we'll sell a few CDs. Joe brought four or five and they sold out right away. Joe came around and asked if I had any more in my car. I went and got a box and left them with Donna, Doug's wife, who was manning the CD table.”

Sept. 14, 2002: Flood Lite -- Dave, Joe and Charlie -- plays a party at Heritage Farm Museum and Village. "The weather wasn't greatest -- it showered a bit -- but the partygoers were good sports," Charlie told his mom in an email. "Meanwhile, Flood Lite was high and dry on the front porch of one of the buildings and we played from 5:30 to 8. Fun time.”

Sept. 15, 2002: The full band played in downtown Ironton at the 16th annual Festival of the Hills on the Ohio University Southern campus, "a hard gig," Charlie said in an email to his mom. "The weather forecast had been optimistic that the showers would end by mid-morning. But then, the weather forecast hasn't been right most of the summer, so why start expecting it to be right now? And it wasn't it. It rained steadily all afternoon. I felt sorry for the volunteers who planned the festival -- they really worked hard at it -- but both days were a washout. The band stayed dry -- we were on a covered stage -- and there was a tent covering for the audience, such as it was. But it was still no fun being outside. Still, Flood was hot. We put on two great sets. Everybody was full of good energy and it came through, but there weren't many people there to listen. Those that did brave the elements and came out had good time.”

Sept. 18, 2002: The band played for the fourth and last time at St. Zita Grille in downtown Huntington.

"Had a great crowd," Charlie told his mom in an email. "The fine folks there fed us and then we took the stage at 7, right on time. And this time we were in front of a TV camera. Joe is being featured in an upcoming broadcast on W.Va. Public Television and the producer wanted to get him performing with The Flood, so they sent a cameraman to the job last night and he filmed just about the entire first set. He then interviewed fans about the band and about Joe in particular. Don't know when it will air, but, of course, we'll be taping it." Some 90 seconds of th video that appeared in the "Outlooks" documentary about Joe is in the above clip.

Sept. 19, 2002: The group played an afternoon set at Huntington's Johnson Memorial Church to "a huge crowd," Charlie told his mom in an email, "probably nearly 200 folks sitting at tables all around the large dining room in the basement. They fed us a pretty good lunch, then we played for 45 minutes, letting Chuck, who's a member of that church, do the emceeing. The crowd was very receptive. Also, last night we got a call from an 88-year-old lady who was in the audience and loved the music. She said she would be going to a big conferences next month in North Carolina at which about a thousand ex-West Virginians attend. She wants to take a box of CDs to sell to folks there. Isn't that nice? She's coming by this morning and we'll be giving her 15 or so discs to take with her.”

Sept. 21, 2002
. In Fayette County's Beckwith, WV, FOOTMAD (the Friends of Old-Time Music and Dance), gathering for its 20th annual fall festival, awarded its very first lifetime achievement award, called te Footbridge Living Treasure Award, to Joe Dobbs at a two-hour concert that featured a host of Joe's oldest and newest friends, including Rod and Judy Jones, Linda and Wendell Dobbs and Shenannigans (later Blackbirds and Thrushes), Kate Long and of course, The Flood. (Here, from The Flood's set at the show, is a particularly tasty version of Joe and David's raucious "June Apple," Sept. 21, 2002).



Joe-Footmad

For the event, David penned some beautiful remarks, some of which were read at the presentation. Here's the text of Dave's complete statement:

I'm not sure whether Joe Dobbs chose West Virginia first or whether West Virginia chose Joe. It doesn't matter -- Joe and West Virginia are a team. And there's no denying West Virginia is a better place because he's made West Virginia his home. ... In fact, he's more of a West Virginian than many West Virginians I know.

"I met Joe shortly after he arrived in the region. Those were the days when fiddle players were few and far between in our neck of the woods and good fiddle players were as rare as hen's teeth. Joe mesmerized us with his playing the first time we heard him draw his bow across the strings. We've been friends ever since and even today, we play in a musical group known as The 1937 Flood, a band of six that would not be a band at all without Joe, his fiddle and his spirit.

Joe's extensive travels both in the U.S. and abroad have made him the perfect West Virginia ambassador. He has probably done much to spread the word about the real West Virginia around the world as any native son or daughter. So what does it matter whether Joe chose West Virginia or West Virginia chose Joe? The fact that West Virginia has adopted Joe, who lives in West Virginia by choice, has made all the difference for both of them."

Meanwhile, here is audio Steve Volkman's introduction and presentation of the award mid-way through the show, which, incidentally, producer George Walker recorded and edited for a special edition of Joe's "Music from the Mountains" show that month.

Sept. 28-29, 2002: The Flood wrapped up its busy summer of gigging and touring with a weekend in the mountains. On Saturday night, we returned to the Brazen Head Inn, Will Fanning's traditional Irish lodge in Randolph County, to play for a gathering of afficionados of the Lucia, an Italian sports car, and a bunch of other people who came in to hear the band. Then the next day, we trekked into the Monogahela National Forest to play for the first of what would become an annual outing for The Flood over the next few years, the fall festival at the Cranberry Mountain Nature Center.

cranberry

The events featured lots of craftspeople, and we shared the stage – actually, it was the parking lot – with The Old Dominion Cloggers. It worked out really well. The band encouraged the cloggers, and then we our sets, anyone who felt like it to get up and dance, and many did, especially to the fiddle tunes.

Oct. 3, 2002: The Flood headed into the studio to record one very special tune: An original song we wrote to be the new theme song for Joe Dobbs’ beloved weekly “Music from the Mountain” show on West Virginia Public Radio. The idea for the theme song came from Joe’s producer, the late great George Walker, who a month later also would engineer our second CD Dave-1978(“The 1937 Flood Plays Up a Storm”) on which this new tune would be the opening track. George thought it was a no-brainer that “Joe’s band oughta make up Joe’s theme song.” So David Peyton wrote the lyrics for “Music from the Mountains Sets You Free,” working with a melody that Charlie Bowen came up with. Then a few weeks later, the band rolled into the WV Public Broadcasting studios in Charleston and, in two or three takes, recorded the tune that would be heard every Friday night on radios throughout the Mountain State.

The theme song was just The Flood's latest association with the radio show. Since Joe was one of the founders of the band, it’s not surprising that on a dozen times or so during the show's 23 years on the air, the band or individual Floodsters appeared as guests. In fact, as noted earlier, The Flood actually appeared on "Music from the Mountains" before there even WAS a "Music from the Mountains." In the late summer of 1982, when Joe was just thinking about pitching WVPR on the idea of a weekly radio show, Peyton, Bowen and the late Rog Samples came together at Joe's shop, Fret 'n Fiddle, to record a demo of how Joe envisions the show, complete with interviews and live music. That was more than a year before the show hit the air on Nov. 11, 1983.

STORIES:

-- Working Up the Tune. Producer George Walker left the recorder running to capture the birth of the new "Music from the Mountains" theme song.

Oct. 4, 2002: The Flood caravan motored down river on this Friday night to perform as the warmup act for visiting Kentucky-based comedian Carl Hurley. The town has just completed a 10-year project of painting 52 scenes on its downtown floodwall done by mural artist from Louisiana did them all. To celebrate the completion, the city hired The Flood and Hurley to perform.

Carl Hurley“Two-thirds of The Flood -- Dave, Sam, Chuck and I along with Phyllis and Pamela -- hit the road west at about 4,” Charlie told his mom in an email the next day. “The weather was not cooperating -- Hurricane Lili's rain reached us about that time -- but fortunately, the job was inside. VERY inside, actually. We were to perform in the beautiful Vern Riffe Auditorium on the Shawnee State College campus in Portsmouth, and what a beautiful auditorium it is. … We got there in time to do a good sound check, then run out at grab something to eat. The locals told us that there was a good family restaurant called The Forks and Fingers Cafe, so under umbrellas -- it was raining steadily then -- we hurried over there and explained to the waitress that the nine of us were in a real hurry, since we had to get back for the show. They were very cooperative and got us fed and back on our way in about 35 minutes. We then hurried back through the rain and wind to the auditorium and found the place packed.”

The Rife auditorium seats about 1100 people and it was a soldout crowd, so this was be the second-largest audience we'd played to so far (second to only the riverfront crowd we played with the symphony the previous summer).

“We got backstage, got tuned up and in about 15 minutes were on stage and rocking,” Charlie wrote. “We designed the set to feature only our funniest tunes and the crowd loved it. We even took a bag of kazoos with us and got volunteers from the audience to join us on stage for a funny number. We left 'em stand and wanting more and ended up selling about $200 worth of CDs.”

After the intermission, we slipped in to hear Carl Hurley's show, a wonderful kind of Andy Griffith down-home humor. After the show, Hurley told us he was interested in maybe getting The Flood to work with him on other shows. “For instance,” Charlie wrote, “he's got a biggie in Renfro Valley that he says would be perfect for us.” Well, that never worked out, but it was nice to be thought of.

Oct. 5, 2002: It was a two-gig Saturday. During the day, Flood Lite -- Joe, Dave and Charlie-- plays Heritage Village at a downtown festival to "a tiny, but enthusiastic crowd of our regulars," Charlie told his mom in an email. "It's fun, sometimes, to strip the music down to its basics and the three of us are the essence of the band. Of course, we miss the other guys when we're down to a trio, but it's amazing to all of us, I think, how much music we can get out of three voices and three sets of hands. And Rick Abel, the park board guy who hired us, was thrilled with the results"

Then the entire band played on the Ohio University Ironton campus at the 22nd season of the Ironton Council for the Arts at the Bowman Auditorium on the Ohio University Southern campus. "The room was small enough that we probably could have gotten by without a sound system," Charlie wrote, "but I was glad we had it, veacause after two days of singing, I'm didn't feel like shouting to be heard over a six-piece band. We had a good crowd, very friendly, and they warmed quickly to us and we to them. We did a nice mix of fiddle tunes, jug band songs and swing standards and they seemed to like it all."

Oct. 10, 2002: It had been an extraordinarily busy year for The Flood, and even into the autumn, the band had a full calendar.

For instance, on this very rainy and cool Thursday, the band played two gigs on the same day. At noon, the boys were hired to perform at the dedication of a new trail at a small neighborhood Huntington park. Actually, none of us had ever heard of 27th Street Park at the other end of town right by the river. It’s a beautiful little space, more recently renamed McClelland Park in honor of long-time park director Jim McClelland. That days, the park board had some tents set up and provided barbecue and hamburgers. Unfortunately, because of the nasty weather, the only people who attended in the horrible Lee Maynardweather were the park board members, some politicians running for office, a veterans organization color guard, a couple preachers to pray, and two band wives. The band played while people were gathering, then had a musical interlude between some speeches (to wake folks up) and then at the end while people were in line for food.

Then an hour later, the band packed up and hustled over to a Wayne County reception honoring author Lee Maynard, a West Virginia native who moved to Santa Fe. In 1988, Lee wrote a controversial little tell-all novel about his little hometown, called “Crum.” Legend has it that Lee told so much truth in his story that for years he found the thought of going home, uh, uncomfortable. By 2002, the scene had a changed a little, as “Crum” had been reprinted by WVU Press. Still, controversy still followed the little book when the Tamarack, the state-owned artisan center near Beckley, refused to stock it, deeming it unsuitable because of its sexually explicit language and negative portrayal of the state. Nonetheless, the folks in Wayne County were happy to see their native son that night, filling the Ceredo-Kenova High School band room to hear the music, greet the author and buy signed copies of his books … including “Crum.

Oct. 19, 2002: A Flood Lite contingent (this time Sam, Chuck, Charlie and Dave) played a Saturday afternoon tailgate party near the Marshall University football stadium. Actually, the event was part of a fundraiser for the Matt Mathew Scholarship Fcheerleadersund set up in the name of one of Sam's old friends who had died a few years ago from complications of a car wreck.

“Going into this freebie, I didn’t have very high expectation,” Charlie told his mom in an email, because the weather sounded like it was going to be dreadful, but actually it worked out. "We had fun," he reported. "The people there were very appreciative of our music and we sold more than $100 worth of CDs, some of the profits of which we donated to the cause. And even the weather cooperated -- the rain held off until we finished playing and we're heading home.”

The afternoon started when Dave came over at 1 and he, Pamela and Charlie loaded up the instruments and equipment and over to Marshall. The party was on a corner of the running track. “We able to drive over, then I took the car over a few blocks away to park it and walked back a few blocks. There would be only four of us for the job and we had our battery-powered amps for a sound system, which worked fine for this little gig, which was under a tent. We started playing at 1:30 and did three 30-minute sets with breaks in between.”

The highlight of the afternoon came when the squad of Marshall cheerleaders came by to hear the music. “Sam, who's always thinking, quickly fetched that bag of kazoos we keep on hand and started passing them out to the girls," Charlie reported in his email, "and then we launched into that novelty tune -- 'Rag Mama/Gimme Dat Ding -- and had the cheerleaders playing along on their new kazoos. What a hoot!”

Oct. 25, 2002: The Flood appeared on Joe's "Music from the Mountains" radio and actually debuted the new theme. It was great show. Joe's new producer, George Walker, fell in love with the band and would be the producer of the second CD. And he was cutting his chops on that first MftM appearance. Here's a selection of tunes from that fun evening on the radio with Joe. ("I Never Cried," Stealin'," "Hello, Central, Gimme Dr. Jazz," "Cincinnati Rag," and "Tear It Down," Oct. 25, 2002.")

STORIES:

-- The Ride of the Valkyries. David, our hoodoo voodoo kazoo guru, warms up with a Wagner...

RogerNov. 1, 2002: When we tuned in to Joe’s weekly “Music from the Mountains” radio show that Friday night, we surprised to hear not one, but two familiar Flood family voices. Joe had kept it a surprise from us that his guest that week would be Flood co-founder Roger Samples, and what a memorable evening it was!

By then, Rog and Tammy and the family had been living in Mt. Sterling, Ky., for a decade, just far enough away that we didn’t see each other nearly often enough. However, Roger had been on hand in Fayette County, WV, a month or so earlier when Joe had been honored by FOOTMAD (Friends of Old-Time Music and Dance) with the award of its first lifetime achievement citation. Later we’d come to find out that it was at that event that Joe hit on the idea of bringing Roger in to be an MftM guests.

Here’s a 25-minute slice of the show that aired on Nov. 1, 2002, which included Roger’s reminiscences about growing up in Clendennin, playing at the coffeehouses in the ‘60s and ‘70s, attending Marshall University, playing music in church with his kids and more. Also in the track are several beautiful live Samples-Dobbs duets (including “The Water is Wide,” “Carolina Sunshine Girl,” “Ladies Sail Away,” “Yesterday,” Nov. 1, 2002).

Nov 6, 2002: In exchange for dinner, the band played for an Episcopal church. "The good Episcopal folks put out good spread," Charlie told his mom in an email later. "We all arrived before 6:30 and they fed us excellent fried chicken and mashed potatoes, green beans and assorted salad and dessert. We filled up, then took the stage at 7:30 and played for a solid half hour and the crowd of about 100 people let us know they really enjoyed it."

Nov. 16, 2002: On a chilly, rainy Saturday, we gathered in a Charleston studio with producer George Walker to record the band's second CD, a disc that would be released a few months later as “The 1937 Flood Plays Up a Storm.” It was a long day. recordingThe guys recorded 23 tunes in eight hours of staring at each other over microphones. We started early.Everyone -- Dave, Charlie, Joe, Doug, Chuck and Sam -- reached the studio by noon, but the setup took a while. It was complicated to set up mikes and cables for a six-piece band and then do the sound check, so it was 2 in the afternoon before we were ready to record. George used digital tape for the session, so the band would record five or six tunes in a 45-minute stretch, filling up one of the tape.

Then we had to take a break while George formatted the next tape, a process that took about 20 to 30 minutes. That gave us time to order some pizzas for dinner and then launched into it again.

Now, it is always fun when The Family Flood comes together and that night everybody did his best stuff, but by anybody’s definition, it was grueling day. In fact, some of the guys probably would have voted to end the session at 6 (when we had about 18 cuts in the can), but the majority decided to stay on for another two hours. And as it turned out everyone was glad we did. The final tunes we recorded -- despite our being tired and, yes, a bit grumpy -- were the best of the whole bundle, including this one, with the best solos of the day.

Nineteen years later we put the entire album online as part of our Radio Floodango feature.

Nov. 29, 2002: The Flood gathered in the lobby of the beautiful old Frederick Hotel in downtown Huntington to help out with a very special cause: An art auction to benefit Sam St. Clair’s dear friend, sculptor Sinesia Lenac.

Sinesia was from Rejika, Croatia, the coastal city on the blue Dalmatian coast, Sinesiawhere he went to school to study engineering and ship design. When war came to Croatia, Sinesia volunteered for active duty, during which he was injured. At the end of the war, he headed out for New York City where he scrapped it out as an electrician's helper for a few months.

But more than anything, Sinesia wanted to become an artist. Things were set in motion when he met a professor from West Virginia professor who told him about Marshall University, where he could earn an art degree. Soon after that, Sinesia packed up and left New York for Huntington. It wasn’t easy at first. He struggled, sleeping on couches, spending his days vigilantly working on his art. Finally, his efforts started paying off. He got a partial scholarship, then a full ride. When he finished at Marshall, he got a slot as a graduate assistant in the art department at Miami University near Cincinnati, with a good year of teaching and working on art. But just when things were turning around, Sinesia was diagnosed with a rare sarcoma. By late 2002, his health had crashed and bills were mounting.

That's when his friends organized the benefit auction. For that night, Sam brought in his fellow Floodsters to entertain the crowd that came to the Frederick. The Flood donated time and the proceeds from the evening's CD sales to help off-set the medical expenses. The night's efforts raised nearly $5,000, which help ease at least some of Sinesia’s worries for the last weeks of his life. The artist died a month later, New Year’s Day 2003. He was 31.

Dec. 31, 2002: The band picked at the annual Nancy McClellan’s New Year’s Eve party in Ashland. "We launched into our set around 8 and just rocked the place for the next hour," Charlie wrote his mom later. "I love how we do that, and the crowd really responded."

2003

2003

Jan. 17, 2003: The band’s first job of the year was at the old Huntington High School building, which has been turned into an arts center and apartments for the elderly. It’s a huge, beautiful building. The band performed in a large room that used to be the library. They had set up 200 chairs in a semicircle around a raised stage against the wall. We rented a sound system from Joe’s shop. We didn’t expect much of a crowd, because it was the coldest day of the winter so far, so we were surprised and pleased when folks filled the room. These were hard-core fans, and they thoroughly enjoyed the evening, singing along, laughing at Charlie’s ramblings. Many volunteered for the “kazoo chorus” during an audience participation number.

Emailing later to his mom, Charlie noted, "I was surprised at how much fun I had, since I didn't feel all that good going into it. I hadn't had enough sleep from the night before and I never could get a nap during the day. Well, I say I'm surprised, but I'm not really. This happens all the time for me -- I might feel tire or even be sick, but once we hit the stage and the tunes start rocking, the adrenaline kicks in and I always have a ball. It's fun to be in a band that has so many hams. And we were so loose last night – everybody was trying new stuff on their solos and everything worked. Magic night.”

Here's are four tunes from the show that evening, (“Tear It Down,” “Sail Away, Ladies,” Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gives to Me,” “I Never Cried.”)

STORIES:

-- How MANY People Were There? With magical mathematics, Charlie and David tell an audience about the ever-increasing size of the crowd that heard the band at the previous summer's riverfront gig.

-- You Gotta Wonder Where People Like that Come From. Charlie and David remember a gig at the old Huntington Galleries.

-- Playing for the Riverboats. Talking with an audience, we wonder if our name will be a turnoff to visiting boat passengers.

-- The Flood's Toughman Contest. Without consulting Joe and Chuck, we discuss another money-raising venture.

Jan. 29, 2003: Flood Lite played another another West Virginia Tech set at Montgomery. Joe and Charlie had started the annual traditional a few years earlier, but this was Doug's time for the job. As Charlie told his mom in a later email, "Doug got here about 9:30 yesterday morning and we hit the road for Nitro, where we met up with Joe and followed him to West Virginia Tech at Montgomery, another 45 minutes down the road. It was a nasty, rainy morning, but we didn't have any ice and sleet, so the travel was easy, especially for me, since I just had to sit back and drink my coffee and let Doug do the driving.

"At noon we started our hour's set. This is the second time we've played here and the audience has been strange both times. These days, Tech's student body is more than half African America, and the kids, while nice enough, don't have a whole lot in common with our music. WEll, actually, they DO, but they usually don't know that material we do was primarily introduced by black performers 70 and 80 years ago. Rap and hip-hop have so dominated popular music, that many kids just don't any commonground with music that has... well, chord changes, for one thing.

"Still, there were moments. My favorite was watching the reaction of a pretty little black student near the stage. When we started, she had her back to us, but when we did the first of the jug band tunes, she looked over her shoulder at us. Later, when we did the second jug band number, she turned around and listened to the whole thing. By the third tune, she was grinning. Love moment like that. Meanwhile, the faculty really seemed to enjoy the show and many came up and talked to us afterwards. All and all, it was an easy trip, easy gig.”

March 2, 2003: The guys were hired to play a Mardi Gras party at Our Lady of Fatima church, a fine time, as Charlie told his cousin Kathy in an email later. "We sure had a roomful, and the whole Mardi Gras theme was a hoot. We got the little kids – and some of the fine-lookin BIG kids -- dancing at one point. What is it with certain young girls and 'Cotton-Eye Joe'? Personally, I've never really liked that particular fiddle tune, but some music man musta come through convincing them that it was the ultimate tune for line-dancing ... something else I'm not especially fond of, but hey, the band aims to please. All in all, it was a good -- paying -- job.”

The guys were supposed to ride in a parade around the church in the southern hills section of Huntington, but, as band manager Pamela Bowen noted in her journal that mouth, "the organizer who was to give them a lift to the start of the parade had an emergency -- his gumbo had spoiled because it was made with blood sausage and he’d put it in the refrigerator too hot. Dave BallSo he had to whip up a batch of chicken soup or something. Since the boys couldn’t throw the beads and candies I had prepared, I scattered them on all the tables, which made the room (the school gym) look more festive. It was quite a nice event. There were lots of tables filling the gym and everybody sat down and ordered what they wanted and it was brought to them, just like in a real restaurant. The band played for a couple hours, with time out to eat, and everybody seemed to have a good time."

The gig also was important in Flood Lore it was the beginning of the band's association with Dave Ball, who would go on to play bass for the boys for a few years. The "organizer" whom Pamela spoke of in her journal was Dave, we would dub him "Bub" for his Flood personna. As head of Fatima's men's organization was in charge of the 2003 Mardi Gras event, which raised money to send a surgical team to Belise, Dave had contacted Bowen about The Flood performing during the group’s Mardi Gras dinner, and also asked for some CDs, kazoos, a cap and T-shirt to put in a "Flood bucket" to auction off during a church fundraiser. Another auction item was the chance to play kazoo on stage with The Flood during the upcoming Huntington Museum of Art's Hilltop Festival. Dave, who would attend his first weekly Flood jam session at the Bowen house two months later on May 28, said later that he really wanted to win that one auction item himself, and ultimately drove the bidding got up to about $70 before other bidders dropped out. We would recount that and other stories when Bub joined the band that fall.

March 5, 2003: The band returned to the West Virginia Cultural Center in Charleston for a reprise of its 2002 performance at the comic "Third House" for the state legislators, "a good time," Charlie told his cousin Kathy in a later email, "though it was different this year from last year. Fewer participants -- word is that the new owner of Channel 13 and other state media (State Journal, etc.) banned his employees from taking part (nobody seemed to know why). Also, fewer people in the audience compared with last year. The leadership of neither the House nor the Senate was there. And apparently there was only one committee meeting going on, so it's not clear why they didn't come, but there were a number VIP seats in the front row empty.

"Still, those who were there, including Gov. Bob Wise, had a good time. And the show itself was much better this year than last -- better written, better performed. We opened the show with a half hour of warmup music as the crowd came in. We focused on the funny and upbeat tunes. Had a little trouble hearing each other -- on the last number, for instance, Joe totally ran away with things on his solo, 'cuz he couldn't hear the guitar. Still, most of the worked quite well, and the audience seemed to appreciate it."

During the show itself, The Flood had a featured number, "Peyton's rewriting of a crazy jugband tune, which was one of the hits of the evening. The crowd really connected with it. This year we opted not to play at the reception following the do. Last year it was just a big noisy room and we pretty much wore ourselves out trying to be heard, so we decided to cut out after the show was over."

Incidentally, the Third House bunch gave Gov. Wise a pair of "clogging shoes," recognizing his performance with the band last year. The governor did not seem to be in a dancing mood this year, however.

Beth McVeyMarch 29, 2003: The guys played a lively set at a spring gala called “The Stars Are Out Tonight” at the new Renaissance Arts Center in Huntington’s South Side, and even made a memory for themselves by accompanying a Broadway star and her show-stopping finale.

As Charlie told his mom in an email the next day, “Our job was wrap up the first half of the evening and we went on right after two opera singers, who were great but, well, they were opera singers and the crowd was getting a little restless when we wandered on and hit 'em with "Sunny Side of the Street," followed by a good old fiddle tune and then a blues, which get the biggest hand of the evening.”

For the conclusion of the evening, Beth McVey -- the star of the evening who had performed in such Broadway shows like “42nd Street,” ”Annie" "Phantom of the Opera" and "Beauty and the Beast" -- joined us for the last number to swing on "Sweet Georgia Brown." And, as Charlie said the day-after email, “the great part was that we gave Beth a kazoo, which she kept in my shirt pocket. After the fiddle solo, she reached into my pocket, pulled out her blue kazoo and did her own solo. It brought down the house!”

April 1 and 8, 2003: As the band prepared for the April 11 launch of its second commercial CD, "The 1937 Flood Plays Up a Storm," the guys decided to make the evening a combination CD party and fund-raising for the host venue, the Renaissance Arts Center (the old Huntington High School building).

To help spread the word, Dave shared a couple of The Flood's famed blue kazoos with his friend, Cabell County extension agent John Marra, who had a regular segment at noon on WSAZ-TV. John saw in his budding a kazoory a great opportunity for a little shtick with the broadcast's host (and all-'round good sport) Rob Johnson. Here was the result:

 

April 8, 2003: Flood Lite played for the 20-some students in the last session of the “life writing” class Joe Dobbs was taking from Patrick Grace at Huntignton Museum of Art. As Charlie told his mom in a later email, "Joe's been taking a writing class Joe Book there all winter and the folks there were interested in hearing his fiddle, so we got The Flood Lite Trio together for the occasion and it was real hit. We played for about a half hour during the break and then again at the end of the evening as they leaving.” The class would inspire Joe start writing his autobiography, which ultimately result in A Country Fiddler, which would be released in the summer of 2012.

April 11, 2003: The CD release party at the Renaissance Ballroom drew about 150 folks who bought about $650 worth of albums. "We played two hour-long sets and got a standing ovation at the end," Charlie told his mom later in an email. "These are our hard-core fans -- see many of them at nearly everything we play around here -- but we also saw a lot of new faces, especially young faces. Fun, fun night. And I was surprised at how much fun I had, since I didn't feel all that good going into it. I hadn't had enough sleep from the night before and I never could get a nap during the day. Well, I SAY I'm surprised, but I'm not really. This happens all the time for me -- I might feel tire or even be sick, but once we hit the stage and the tunes start rocking, the adrenaline kicks in and I always have a ball. It's fun to be in a band that has so many hams. And we were so loose last night -- everybody was trying new stuff on their solos and everything worked. Magic night.”

April 26, 2003: The band played at Tamerack for what was billed as a reunion of “favorite crafters.” As Charlie told his mom in an email later, " The weather was awful -- it rained all day long -- so Tamarack's plan to have this outdoors in the courtyard fell through. Secretly, we were happy about that. We'd much rather play in that fantastic theater there, especially since our man of sound, George Walker, who produced our new album, was to be there working the board. We arrived at noon for the sound check, which we zipped through, then let the Tamarack folk feed us." The band played at 2. "The crowd was small -- the weather had kept lots of folks away -- but enthusiastic, " Charlie wrote, "and our host, Tim Pyles, was thrilled, so if Tim's happy, we're happy.”

April 30, 2003: Joe and Charlie play for grade students at Huntington's Meadows School, a little volunteer set. "Joe's fiddle tunes will be just what the doctor ordered," Charlie emailed his mom later, "a day of Appalachian music and Joe -- also known as Santa Claus -- in a quite comfortable setting."

May 8, 2003: We spent that Thursday morning down at the riverfront beginning our courtship of the Delta Queen steamboat by serenading the passengers on a spring visit to Huntington as they walked between the boat and the buses assembled for the shore tours. The courtship worked! While we were playing, Bob Stevens, the DQ’s banjo-playing entertainer and assistant cruise director, walked by, stopped to say hi, and Chuck lent him his banjo he played a few tunes.

DQ

Meanwhile, Bob's fellow cruise director, Jazzou Jones, had the band's first CD but had never heard the group in person. Pleased with what he heard on the riverfront, he invited us all on board and to sing and play for our lunch in the Orleans Room. That, of course, was actually what we were hoping for. It was the first of what would be many visits to the Delta Queen over the next few years. On that day, we played for a half hour and the crowd loved it. Banjo Bob even came back with an old washboard he’d used for comedy skits, and sat in for special rendition of “Coney Island Washboard Roundelay.”

AQMay 9, 2003: The band played an afternoon show at the Cabell County Public Library, after which they guys headed down to the riverbank to serenade the visiting American Queen riverboat. The library show was supposed to be outside, but the rain had a say in that, so before the soundcheck, we moved the whole show inside the front room of the library, in front of the windows looking out on the plaza. "That was fine," Charlie told his mom in an email. "We've played in that area before and we always have a good time." Kevin Bannon, our favorite sound man, was there "he took care of business," Charlie noted. "And we had a great crowd -- probably about a hundred folks including lots of old friends and sailed through an hour's set with lots of laughs and stories and some old and new tunes." By the time the gig was done, the rain had stopped and sun peeked in and out, so we decided to go down to the riverfront and serenade the visiting American Queen for an hour or so. It was fun, although not as much so as playing for the Delta Queen" the day before.

May 17, 2003: Spring meant another "jugband breakfast" at the Coon-Sanders Nighhawks Fan Reunion Bash gathering of traditional jazz fans. “Wow, what a great time we had," Charlie emailed his mom the next day. "We assembled the band there at a little before 9, got everybody fed and on stage by 9:15, where we rocked the place for the next 45 minutes and those old jazz guys just loved it. In fact, more than one person told Dale Jones, the organizer, 'I'm not coming back next year unless you guarantee those guys are coming back too!'" Also, for the first time we got the playing kazoos on the encore. What a riot.

May 21, 2003: It was a two-gig day.

First we gathered at the lodge at Camp Mad Anthony Wayne, a nice old log cabin out in the woods of Westmoreland, where the park board was meeting and Mad Anthonyhonoring a few of its own. "It was a paying job for us, playing for an hour as the folks ate lunch," Charlie told his mom in a later email. "They set us up on a little cat walk overlooking the eating area and we did a variety of numbers, from fiddle tunes to jug band bands to swing numbers. It wasn't our favorite set up -- we like to be on eye level with the audience in order to make eye contact and interact, but the money was good and it's always fun to be with these guys."

We finished up at 12:30. That that evening we re-gathered at the Heritage Farm and Village Museum where Sam had booked us for a Rotary Club function. They were honoring a group of four visiting Rotarians from Brazil. "We had a nice meal with the folks, then gave them about 45 minutes worth of music," Charlie told his mom. "Even got the Brazilians playing with us. It was fun.”

June 2, 2003: Had another fun morning on the riverfront, serenaded the visiting Mississippi Queen riverboat. "We set up near the gangplank," Charlie told his mom later in an email, "and interacted with the passengers as they came and went. Lots of grins and smiles.

2003-MQ

"We even got a young kid playing the washboard with us as his grandmother snapped his picture. (Then she bought a CD -- Mama didn't raise no dumb children...) In fact, we ended up selling about $70 worth of CDs. We played a few hours, then wrapped it up and went to a late lunch together.”

June 7, 2003: The Flood was invited to help a local landmark — jim'sJim’s Steak and Spaghetti House — celebrate its 65th year in business in downtown Huntington.

Under a tent in front of the beloved restaurant, the guys played for several hours, serenading customers, staff and passersby, many of whom stopped to dance along to the music.

The activities attracted TV cameras; linked below is a video of the WSAZ TV segment that day. Jim Tweel — himself a musician (he played upright bass for years in his brother Bill’s orchestra) had long been a Flood fan.

Sadly, Jim was ill that day (he would pass away two years later at the age of 89), but his wife, Sally, was on hand, and during a break between sets, Dave gave Sally an official blue kazoo and read the certificate that proclaimed her and Jim to “ornery members of The 1937 Flood … authorized (and expected) to play the kazoo when called upon.”

Good sport that she was, Sally took a kazoo solo on a tune later that afternoon.

 

June 21, 2003: As part of the Central City Festival, the band played an hour’s set in West Huntington, just yards away from the site of Joe’s original Fret ‘n Fiddle location on West 14th Street. Central City was a separate town a century ago, and the name now refers to the three blocks of antique shops. The organizers had $3,000 for its entertainment budget and couldn’t agree what to spend it on, so they gave $1,000 to each block and they hired their own entertainers. The Flood was hired by the 600 block and performed on a flatbed truck.

CentralCity

In the 700 block was supposed to be a group called the Harmonicats at the same time. And in the 500 block was a gunfighter show. These are very short blocks. We figured we could take the Harmonicats, but didn’t want to go up against guns. As it turns out, the Harmonicats didn’t show, and after we’d been playing 45 minutes, a tall gunfighter dressed in black came up to me and explained that their show was supposed to start 15 minutes ago but the band was drowning them out. Pamela, band manager, told him her guys would do two more songs and quit. Immediately after the second song ended, the gunfire began.

July 4-5, 2003: Joe and Charlie, in colonial costumes, played for guests at The Greenbrier resort near White Sulpher Springs, WV, an appearnce arranged by Flood friend Edwina Ziegler, who also brought a group of historic reactors. "We hadn't been there been there an hour," Charlie told his mom in an email later, "when we'd already seen folks from Huntington who we knew, including Betty and Eddie Barrett, old acquaintances from the library and the orchestra and big fans of The Flood. There were staying at the Greenbrier and visiting with family in 2003-Greenbriernearby Lewisburg. Edwina's troupe -- about 15 actors and re-enactors, started arriving about 11. Good, funny people who enjoy history and dressing up as everybody people from the 18th century. Edwina's historical drama deal with the Mary Ingles Trail and the story of a woman who was kidnapped by the Indians in the 1750s, who escaped around Portsmouth, Ohio, and walked home to Virginia. Pretty amazing tale!"

Edwina provided the colonial costumes. "She had a lacy shirt and vest for me and a long skirt, vest, shirt and maid's cap for Pamela," Charlie wrote. She and the cast participated in the July 4th parade around the grounds. "While they did," Charlie wrote, "Joe and I went inside and performed fiddle-guitar pieces at several of the different lobbies and hallways in the huge resort. We got nice crowds each time -- people seemed to really enjoy the music. After two or three hours, we finished up and were taken to a little private banquet room for a great Greenbrier dinner put out for all the visiting entertainers, including Civil War re-enactors, a brass marching band from Charleton, several dance troupes and us."

The next day, a Saturday, Joe and Edwina, Charlie and Pamela were up and at 'em early and back at the Greenbrier for the big part of performing. "Edwina's troupe was scattered all around the lawn and adjoining park land for her outdoor drama," Charlie wrote. "From 11 to 1, tours left every 15 minutes for the show. Pamela and Edwina greeted the visitors, introduced the show and sent them on their way to meet actors at each station to hear more of the story. Meanwhile, Joe and I were stationed inside the nicely air-conditioned lobby in costume to play music and draw attention to the presentation. We had a ball, playing period pieces and occasional requests. Toward the end, while we remained in costume, the music began to get more and more out of character, as we started slipping in contemporary. At the very end, we were even joined by an accordian player who was staying at the Greenbrier, who wanted to play 'Up a Lazy River' and 'Sweet Georgia Brown.' It was a hoot."

July 9, 2003: Dave Ball, who had started learning to play upright bass, got his Flood name. As Charlie told his mom in his email this next day, "If Dave Ball is going to a regular around here, we're going to have to give him a new name. We already got a 'Dave.' Last night, we suggested 'Sparky,' since he's a retired fireman, but he didn't care for that, so for the rest of the evening, we called him, 'Not-Sparky' Probably we'll settle on 'Bub' -- that's what a lot of his friends and family call him. It really was like two jam sessions last night. Sam, Chuck, Dave and Doug all arrived early and we jammed with Dave/Bub on the bass and Doug on the guitar. Then Joe and Edwina came later, so Doug moved back to bass and we had Joe on fiddle.”

July 26, 2003: The band was booked to play a private party in the Ohio hill country. "When the guys gathered," Chrlie told his mom in an email, we caravanned over to rural Lawrence County, Ohio, waaaaay back in the hills out beyond Proctorville. The guy who hired us said he was expecting about 75 people for his family reunion and gave us very good directions there. We arrived a little after 4 and set up the sound system. Then we got to playing before 5. It was a good crowd, though nowhere near the 75 he was expecting. And about half the folks there were bluegrass fans, already drunk and calling for 'Fox on the Run' and 'Orange Blossom Special.' ... We'd joked 'em out of it as best we could. And we had a pretty good evening, getting 'em playing kazoos and dancing a bit...."

2003-ohio

We wrapped up about 7:30 and headed on out of there. Four of us -- Joe, Dave, Doug and I -- then headed over to another party, "this one up in the well-manicured hills overlooking Huntington, where Patrick Grace, a friend of Joe's, was hosting an evening," Charlie wrote. "We roared in about 8:30 and played for an hour, doing everything from swing tunes to jugband numbers, and had a ball. And they really loved it. So, as is so often the case, the paying gig was work. The freebie was fun. I guess that's as it oughta be.”

July 31, 2003: Michelle Lewis sang with The Flood for the very first time, when she was brought to a band rehearsal by Joe Dobbs. She was Michelle Walker in those Michelledays, married to the late George Walker, producer of Joe’s “Music from the Mountains” radio show on West Virginia Public Radio.

When Joe — always looking out for new sounds for the band he helped found 30 years earlier — learned that Michelle, also a public radio employee, was a singer and that she particularly liked the swing tunes The Flood had begun playing, he invited the young woman to meet his bandmates.

Aug. 2, 2003: In just a tune or two at the rehearsal, Michelle had captivated everyone and before the week was over, she was on stage playing her first public gig with the guys. The event occurred as the band traveled into the eastern mountains to play at the 2nd annual Snowshoe Institute, a cooperative arts project by Marshall University, West Virginia University, the W.Va. Humanities Council and Snowshoe Mountain.

Joe asked George record the evening’s performances for use on “Music from the Mountains,” so we have this recording of Michelle’s first public performance with The Flood, "Sunny Side of the Street, "Aug. 2, 2003, complete with Joe’s introduction. Michelle was featured on The Flood’s third CD (“I’d Rather Be Flooded”) as a “guest artist” when it was recorded that autumn, but by the fourth CD, the beloved “Chick Singer,” as the guys began to call her, was a regular member of the band and nowadays she is an indispensable and treasured component of The Flood sound.

That night at Snowshoe, The Flood shared the stage with Huntington-based Irish band Blackbirds & Thrushes (formerally Shenannigans), and even got to play along with lead singer Linda Dobbs on a number. Here are two more tunes from the show, "Maggie" with vocals by Linda Dobbs and "Lord, Ain't the Gravy Good?" Aug. 2, 2003).

Meanwhile, if you'd like to listen to a randomly selected playlist of Michelle tunes from her decades with The Flood, check out this Michelle Channel on our Radio Floodango feature.

STORIES:

-- Michelle's First Gig. At a 2012 Red Barn Radio concertn in Lexington, Ky., Michelle tells host Arthur Hancock the story of her first show with the band.

-- A Rare Scene: A Nervous Michelle! Charlie remembers watching Michelle's first performance with The Flood at Snowshoe.

-- Michelle's Civilizing Influence. Michelle figures she joined the band just in the nick of time.

-- Michelle Remembers Her Debut as a 4-Year-Old. Something about a 2015 concert at Trinity Episcopal Church had Michelle nostalgic.

Aug. 6, 2003: The band moved with weekly jam session to Sam and Joan St. Clair's South Side Huntington home, with Charlie's cousin Kathy, visiting from Cincinnati, sitting in. "Sam was was entertaining probably two dozen folks," Charlie told his mom in an email, "mostly students from upstate New York who were visiting Mingo County, WV, doing volunteer work on the land trust project down there. They had driven in (more than two hours) just to hear us play and we gave 'em a heck of an evening, I think. Even got Kathy singing with the band a bit.”

Aug. 10, 2003: The Flood and the auxiliary of wives and girlfriends spent this summer Sunday evening in Charleston answering phones at the televised pledge drive for West Virginia Public Broadcasting. The event came about because of a request from Michelle, who just a week earlier had sung with the guys at Snowshoe at her first gig. Michelle, a public radio employee in charge of membership for both radio and TV, and therefore runs the telethons. (Michelle also she was married at the time to fellow public radio employee George Walker, who was producer of Joe’s weekly “Music for the Mountain” show.)

The night we volunteered was the night they aired “The Three Pickers” (Doc Watson, Ricky Skaggs and Earl Scruggs) and a bluegrass special hosted by Vince Gill and starring Allison Crouse and Del McCoury and Nickel Creek. During the pledge breaks, Michelle was joined in front of the camera to make the pitches by Joe, who – much to the amusement of his bandmate – appeared in a tie and coat, looking not at all happy about it.

telethon

So amused was Sam, in fact, that he sketched that glum-looking Joe, and while that was fun, it was another of Sam’s doodles that evening that had longer legs. Between phone calls, Sam’s came up with a quirky wonderful Flood logo – a cool ant that used its multiple arms to play both a fiddle and a banjo at the same time. We loved Sam’s creation so much that for the next three or four years we used it on the front of the Flood web site. We retired it only after banjo-rific Chuck Romine left the band, making outdated the musical insect’s instrumentation.

Aug. 13, 2003: The Flood played its hottest-ever gig … and the notes and rhythm we brought to the stage had only a little to do with it.

“That was as too-hot as I’ve ever been!” recalled banjoist Chuck Romine. What our Dr. Jazz was looking back on was our day-long performance at the West Virginia State Fair in Fairlea, near Lewisburg. It was mid-90s and we spent the day in a broiling canvas tent.

fair

But the swelter and sweat were only part of the reason the gig is so enshrined in our collective memory. The day is also memorable for our fellow troupers: we shared the stage to which we were assigned by alternating our 45-minute sets with performances by a trained dog act.

We took that scheduling to be a teaching moment, allowing us to learn several things, among them:

(1) Not all dogs have the same level of appreciation for carefully crafted kazoo solos, and

(2) The Flood was not as high in the performers’ pecking order as we thought we were, because between sets, while The Floodsters were left to fend for themselves in the 90-degree heat, the dogs got to retreat to an air-conditioned green room.

(In a remembrance on Facebook recently, Dave Ball, who was in the audience that day, quipped, "Sure, the heat was blistering....but face it...the dogs were good..." to which we replied, "Yeah, and we still get nice cards from some of them. D'ya know that Trixie and Beano went out on their own? They teamed up with a pony and a squirrel and are working the circuit....")

STORIES:

-- Trailing the Trained Dogs. Chuck, David and Charlie recall sweltering at the state fair -- AND following the trained dog act.

Aug. 15, 2003: The Flood played two different Huntington High reunions in a single busy Friday night. "We started the evening," Charlie told his mom in an email, "by the six of us gathering at the old Huntington High, now called the Renaissance Arts Center, to play for the reunion of the classes of 1940, '41, '42 and '43. (They combined them a few years ago.) For this 45-minute set, we chose swing tunes and jump tunes of the '20s and '30s, like 'Up a Lazy River' and 'Sweet Georgia Brown,' and they seemed to enjoy it a lot. And the band even got on TV with a plug by name at 11. Can't buy that kind of publicity"

At 6:15, the gang wrapped up, packed up, loaded up the cars and headed downtown to play Sam's 20th reunion, class of '83, meeting at a snazzy little catering business on 3rd Avenue. "For this job," Charlie wrote, "we selected an entirely different set of tunes, heavier on the rowdier, bluesier pieces, especially those that featured Sam himself. Good crowd there too."

samAug. 22, 2003: For the first of what would be about a half dozen times over the next decade, we played a wonderful Fairmont, WV, venue, the amphitheater behind the restored 18th century log buildings at Prickett’s Fort State Park. It long hike from Huntington — about 200 miles — but it was fun trip. The Bowens left about noon for the Friday night gig, along the way, picking up Sam (who, incidentally, had his own special memory that weekend: When the travelers stopped at the Clarksburg’s Applebee’s for a late lunch, Sam ordered a coupla beers, since he wasn't driving, and the young waitress carded him! Quite an ego boost for the 38-year-old...)

Anyway, the three reached the amphitheater — a covered stage with a new sound system — just 10 minutes before the time for the sound check, meeting up with the rest of the guys. As Charlie told him mom in an email later, “We were very pleased to find a great sound guy on the job. It was one of the easiest sound checks we've had and we're really happy with the theater, monitors and so on. People started arriving at the theater at 6:30 and by 7 when we started the show, we had a couple of hundred folks, lots of them fellow musicians, many of whom also fans of Joe's weekly ‘Music from the Mountains’ radio show.

"We launched right into our swing/jugband tunes with ‘Somebody Stole My Gal’ and immediately started connecting with the crowd. Very good listeners -- very appreciative of good soloing, harmony and so on," Charlie reported. "The only difficulty I had all evening was in the third tune of the first set -- ‘Sweet Georgia Brown’ -- when I broke a string on my guitar. That's the first time I've done that on stage since probably the 1970s. Weird, helpless feeling prickett'swhen it happens. Of course, I had replacement strings in my case and so did Joe. And the cool thing is, The Flood is so cool and professional these days, the band just kept on playing while I stepped back and replaced the string and got back for the finish. I think that crowd appreciated that it. Didn't even have to break the flow of the show, as it were. We gave 'em a good solid, 45-minute first set, full of laughs and stories and real variety of tunes. We then took a 10-minute stretch break before coming back.”

In the second set, we had a surprise for them. One of Joe's friends in the audience was a very young fiddler named Zach Fanok, 15 years old and already winning fiddling contests throughout the region. So we got him up on stage to play "Ragtime Annie" with us. The crowd loved it. We wrapped up the show with a couple of jump tunes and then our show-ending "San Francisco Bay Blues," but the crowd didn't want it to be over yet. They stayed for two encores. Pretty cool night. Later, the fort director said she had been told by many people that it was the best concert of the season and they want us back next year.

Aug. 27, 2003: The band played for a dinner at Our Lady of Fatima church. Celebrating their new Bon Appetit catering business, Dave and Yvonne Ball had set up in the parrish house with tables for 25 folks, including friends from the church as well as family and friends of The Flood. "It was the first time that they had cooked for us," Charlie told his mom in an email, "and, wow, are they good cooks! The fixed a herb-encrused pork loin with a remarkable apple garnish, along with sweet potatoes and corn and a great rice dish. Everybody enjoyed the heck of it. After we ate, we played for the folks, doing a lot of numbers from the first two albums and stuff we're working on for the new album. We also gave Dave a chance to show off on the bass for his friends. Then we broke for dessert -- ice cream and cookies -- then got back to some serious rehearsal for the weekend's wedding gig."

Aug. 29, 2003: After serenading the visit Delta Queen on an earlier visit from outside on the banks of the Ohio, Her Highness invited us onboard to for another little impromptu concert for the passengers, this time in the old girl's Forward Cabin Lounge. Cruise director Jazzou Jones, who facilitated our appearance that afternoon, was pleased that the place was packed and the audience seemed to love the music.

DQ 2003

During a break in the show, we presented Jazzou with a kazoo and a framed certificate proclaiming him an “ornery” member of the band, entitled to play the kazoo whenever possible. (The certificate – which we would later use to honor other band buddies, from Rose Marie Riter to Ken Hechler, Nancy and Bill Meadows and Dale Jones to Jim and Sally Tweel – was patterned after the certificate the DQ folks gave people who “learned” to play the calliope on cruises. Jazzou was very flattered and took it around the room showing it off to people.

STORIES:

-- Jazzou Recalls the Recognition of his Flood Orneriness. Before be featured on an encore at a Spring 2008 Coon-Sanders gig, Jazzou tells about inviting The Flood onto The Delta Queen.

Sept. 1, 2003: The Flood was invited by Paul and Lynne Mayer to come to Smokey's on the Gorge near Fayetteville, WV, and help celebrate the wedding of their daughter Debbie.

Dave-1978The Mayers were wonderfully lenient about letting The Flood to be The Flood in selecting decidedly eclectic entertainment for the day, but the parents did have one request. "You know," Lynne said, "you will need to play 'Hava Nagila' at least once during the afternoon." No problem, we said confidently. Surely our fiddler, Joe Dobbs, had that old Israeli folk song in his repertoire. Uh, no. And while we didn't see Joe sweat much during the 40 years he played with us, THIS was turning out to be a rather tricky tune. In fact, he still hadn't gotten it down when at a rehearsal just days before the wedding, Sam St. Clair and Chuck Romine said, "Here. Let us take a shot at it," and they nailed it the first time. And that's how The Flood became surely the first (and perhaps only) band to do "Hava Nagila" with a harmonica and a tenor banjo leading the way, a rendition that was the hit of the afternoon.

The Mayer party led to several more wedding gigs for The Flood, including several more at Smokey's, most of which featuring the happy couple joining us on the bandstand. After one such party, during which the new bride and groom happily played kazoos along with Dave Peyton on "Somebody Been Using That Thing," Sam wondered aloud, "You know, we may be doing serious damage to our karma." But what happens at Smokey's….

STORIES:

-- Hava Nagila with a Banjo and Harmonica Lead. The guys remember playing this wedding and their first stab at Hava Nagila

-- Messing Up Our Karma. Eight years later, we were still talking about this afternoon. Here's a comment from a 2011 show in Mount Sterling, Ky.

 

Sept. 6, 2003: The band was hired to play the Hilltop Festival at the Huntington Museum of Art with Michelle sitting in as the guest vocalist.Afterwards, David drove Sam, Bub and Charlie to Carter Caves for the annual Festival Festval set. "Since Joe couldn't make it," Charlie told his mom in an email, "we picked up a fiddler named Nick Halderman from Georgia to play with us in our little set. He had a real nice, easy style and fit right now. The sound system was a good one and it was a real easy set.”

bub-samSept. 7, 2003: Retired city firefighter Dave Ball became the newest Floodster, but not before getting an alias.

As we noted in an electronic newsletter we called "FloodStage" that was weekly at the time, “Sharp-eyed regulars in the crowd have begun to notice a new face in the back row of the Flood ensemble. Who's that on bass? Why, it's Bub! And there by hangs a tale…”

Now, Dave had first heard The Flood in October 2000 when when the guys had been invited by Mayor Jean Dean to play at the ceremony announcing the big Pullman Square downtown project.

Flash forward three years and Ball was still having Flood dreams when as head of the men's organization at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church in charge of the 2003 Mardi Gras event, which raised money to send a surgical team to Belise. Contacting Flood manager Pamela Bowen, he asked The Flood to perform during the group’s Mardi Gras dinner, and also asked for some CDs, kazoos, a cap and T-shirt to put in a "Flood bucket" to auction off during a church fundraiser.

“Another auction item,” the newsletter noted, “was the chance to play kazoo on stage with The Flood during the upcoming Huntington Museum of Art's Hilltop Festival. Dave really wanted to win that one himself, and the bidding got up to about $70 before other bidders dropped out. By this time, Dave had been attending The Flood's practice sessions every Wednesday.”

About the same time, Doug Chaffin, who had done due diligence as our bassman for four years, was ready for a breather, wanting explore doing some guitar and mandolin leads with the band. That meant we needed someone else to play bass for a while. “Who better than the loyal dedicated groupie?” said the newsletter. “So Dave Ball borrowed an upright bass and started taping the practice sessions and playing along with the tapes at home several hours a day.” He made his Flood on-stage debut at the Hilltop Festival.

“But there was a little problem,” FloodStages noted. The Flood already had a “Dave,” our famous ‘Duck-Flyin-Backward’ Autoharpping David Peyton — meaning that when Bowen yelled ‘Take it, Dave!’ there would be some confusion.

‘So,” reported the newspaper, “Dave Ball had to be called something else. But what? He vetoed ‘Sparky’ — and ‘Not Sparky’ had way too many syllables — so the band now calls him by the nickname his grandchildren use: Meet Bub.”

Sept. 13, 2003: We returned to Ironton, Ohio to play the annual Festival of the Hills; Dave Ball’s debut on bass.

Sept. 17, 2003: The remarkable young violinst Noel Sayre attended his first jam session. In an email later to his mom, Charlie reported the evening. "A young fiddler -- violinist, actually -- named Noel Sayre plays with the Huntington Symphony and the West Virginia Symphony. He's admired The Flood from afar for a few years -- he was in the orchestra Noelsummer before last when we played with the symphony during the Pops concert (still has his kazoo, he says). He ran into Sam somewhere yesterday and Sam invited him to the jam session. Noel call here last night and asked for directions and came on by. Outstanding musician and able to improvise right along with us. His fiddling and Joe's complimented each other so well! He's from Huntington -- lives over on Norway Avenue these days -- but he lived in Columbus for a while, playing in a band called The Black Swams. And he must have had a good time, 'cuz he was the last guy to leave last night. We're hoping he comes back regularly – fun!”

Noel would be back to jam with us often, right up unti the time of his tragic death in July 2008. One of our regrets is that all of Noel's jam with us pre-dated our starting to regularly record the weekly sessions, so we have no audio of his short time with us.

Sept. 20, 2003: Joe Dobbs took on the character of “Pierre” in the Lewis and Clark presentations at Huntington's Harris Riverfront Park. "It was 200 years ago this weekend," Charlie noted in an email to his mom, "that Meriweather Lewis and his adventurers camped on our banks on their trek to St. Louis to meet up with William Clark and the rest of the corps to begin the western journey." In celebration of that bicenntennial, the the official Corps of Discovery reconstructed keelboat and the Army Engineers historic barge landed in Huntington over over the weekend. "On the banks were dozens of historic re-enactors -- Indians, mountainmen, historic soldiers, musicians and dancers," Charlie wrote. "We took lots of pictures and visited in all the tents and took in some of the shows."

muleSept. 27, 2003: The band headed up the Ohio River to Greenbottom to play a couple of sets at the Scottish Rite of Freemasonary Foundation's second annual fund-raising and pig roast at a farm on W.Va. 2 with proceeds going to the rite's childhood language clinic at Marshall University. I(At that time, the clinic had about 70 children in the free-of-charge language program. Treatment includes needs such as articulation, language, fluency, voice, feeding-swallowing, auditory processing and other related disorders.) The plan was for a fun outdoor public concert. Unfortunately, the weather was horrible – rain all day – so we had to move the show undercover, in this case, into Ostie’s nicely appointed horse stable, where everybody had a good time, well, everybody except for the resident mule, who thought David’s kazoo sounded like a huge horse fly!

STORIES:

-- Mule Meets Kazoo. Recalling the effect David's kazoo solo had on a nearby mule.

-- Mule Memories Linger. ... and nearly a decade after the event, memories of the mule-kazoo duet were revived at a show in Barboursville.

Sept. 28, 2003: The band returned to Randolph County, WV, to again play at Cranberry Glades and its 16th annual Cranberry Mountain Shindig, again sharing the stage at the Cranberry Mountain Nature Center with The Old Dominion Cloggers. Truth be told," Charlie his mom later, "it wasn't as easy a gig this year as it was last year, because, once again, the weather inferred, but we reacted just fine by moving the whole shootin match inside. We came out smelling like a rose, doing our part to save the day. ... Anyway, after the rain chased us out, the Flood regrouped. We grabbed some more chow -- Yvonne brought chili, perfect for the day -- and then we moved inside the Nature Center and set up in a very informal arrangement. Couldn't use the sound system -- the space was too confined -- but we didn't need it. The acoustics were fine. People sat and stood around and listened for another hour or so. We made ourselves a nice little memory. The folks at the center were happy and immediately invited us back next year we've accepted. "

Oct. 19, 2003: The guys made a 500-mile round trip for a special gig in Bedford County, Va., at little venue halfway between Roanoke and Lynchburg, to play under blue skies and the poplars’ yellow leaves. The occasion was Garland Johnson Day at the Sedalia Center in the little town of Big Island. It was Sam St. Clair’s family who got us the job to play for the 90th birthday of the honoree. Garland was the best friend of Sam’s dad, Jim St. Clair.

The concert was at an old school that had been turned into a community arts center. They’d built a huge covered pavilion with a stage. The day was beautiful and sunny, but the breeze made it chilly in the shade.

The Sedalia Center honored Johnson as the first recipient recognized as an ordinary person who did extraordinary things. Garland’s story started when, at just 16, he borrowed some money and started his first department store, later enlarging it and opening several more supermarkets and department stores, building a strip mall, and served on many local boards and commissions. On the autumn day we met him, Garland was quite feeble, but his mind was still active, and he seemed to enjoy the music a lot, even dancing a little several times.

bedford

After the concert, we all went back to the home of Ann Maxwell, Gardland’s daughter. The home was in the rugged hilly land that Gardland originally lived on. We went down a half-mile one-lane dirt road, with hairpin turns and steep dropoffs. At the bottom, in a clearing, sat Ann’s gorgeous house, with a deck overlooking a swimming pool and a large lawn bordered by a creek fed by a spring (the water gushed over rocks and made a delightful soothing sound) and a forest. Nice memories!

Oct. 21, 2003: Several Floodster gathered to played for the 88th birthday of old friend Harvey McClellan at his nursing home in Russell, Ky. "Harvey looked pretty good," Charlie told his mom, "though fraile and really out of it. Don't know how much of that was his condition and how much was the medication. We arrived at 6, following Doug and Donna over. At the last minute, Dave had to beg out because of car trouble, so it was just Joe, Doug and me from the Flood. Also there was Stew Schneider and Bob Toothman and a couple other members of their band, so we had enough to jam for a couple of hours.” (Harvey would soldier on for another year.)

Oct. 29, 2003: It was a dream come true for Charlie Bowen. For six or seven years by then, he and Pamela had been frequent passengers on the historic steamboat Delta Queen as it sailed the Mississippi and Ohio, and many a time during a cruise, Charlie had sat in the riverboat’s classy Texas Lounge listening to tunes by Connie Jones or Phllis Dale, Bob Schad, Bud Black or Mike Gentry and wishing that someday The Flood could play in that sweet venue.

Well, some day came on Oct. 29, 2003, at the invitation of the cruise director, the venerable ragtime pianist Jazzou Jones. Earlier in the week, he had called to say the boat would be at Huntington’s riverfront all afternoon and asked if The Flood would like to entertain the passengers. The “yes” was resounding. We’d already played on board once by then, but just barely. Late in the previous August we’d finagled our way onboard for a quick jam in the forward cabin lounge. That gone well enough that Jazzou felt more confident in The Flood’s chops so he felt comfortable in inviting the guys this time to come up the grand staircase to the legendary Texas Lounge.

Delta Queen 2003

About 3 that afternoon, The Flood contingent started arriving and we set up in front of the piano. It was a little bit of a tight fit, getting six of us -- including Doug’s upright bass -- in that narrow space, so we moved the piano back a few inches and commandeered three of the front bar stools. Not only did that give us something to sit on, but it also made some extra space in front of the bar. By 3:30, the lounge was already full, so even though we weren’t scheduled to start until 3:45, we launched into our first tune, and the steamboatin’ crowd responded immediately, laughing at the funny words and cheering the soloists.

After the first couple of tunes, we handed out kazoos and got the passengers playing along with us. Then we persauded Jazzou to come to the piano to join us for the last 45 minutes of the set, and of course, he just rocked on those old tunes. We gave him a break on every tune from then on, and the crowd went wild each time. At the end, the folks didn't seem to want it to end, but the boat was ready to leave and we had just 10 minutes to get all the equipment back down two flights of stairs, so we said our goodbyes.

Nov. 2, 2003: The Flood wrapped an especially busy year by returning to the recording studio. Working with the Buddha-patient George Walker as engineer, CD3the band spent more 10 hours in front of mikes in Charleston to lay down all 15 tracks of its third commercial CD, which would be released the following year as “I’d Rather Be Flooded.”

The day would preserve some “firsts,” the CD debut of two new Floodsters. Michelle Lewis (then Michelle Walker), who had been appearing as a guest vocalist with the band for three months by then. On the new CD, she sang lead on two cuts (“Don’t Get Around Much Anymore” and “Moonglow”); Dave Ball — we called him “Bub” — played upright bass on two tracks (“Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone” and “Blind Boy Blues.”)

Eighteen years later we put the entire album online as part of our Radio Floodango feature.

The album also would be Chuck Romine’s swan song. Literally, because he just killed it singing lead on “Coney Island Washboard Roundalay,” which was recorded live the previous summer at a memorable show at Snowshoe. Chuck and his tenor banjo would spend another couple of years with The Flood, but by the time we finally got back in the studio to do our 4th CD it was 2011 and Chuck had hung up his Flood for five years by then.

HannahNov. 9, 2003: Flood Lite -- Joe, Doug and Charlie -- played the autumn open house at the remarkable, beautiful woodland studio of Hannah’s Pottery near Scott’s Depot in Putnam County. "I didn't realize it was going to be outdoors,” Charlie told his mom in an email later, “so could have been a disaster, but the weather cooperated. Even though it had been very chilly overnight -- down into the 20s -- the temperature rebounded by afternoon and there was warm sun out, so it wasn't bad at all.”

Hannah Johnson and her husband Don, good friends of Joe’s, often invited other artists to the fall edition of the studio open houses, a kind of mini-art show in the woods. For the music, there was plenty of room for Doug’s bass and for Joe and Charlie to perch on stools and play for the passers-by.

“Joe was already there when we arrived,” Charlie wrote his mom, “and we set up and started doing tunes, mixing swing pieces with fiddle tunes and funny songs. The crowd -- and there were quite a few people there -- loved it, and even stood there dancing, especially to the swing stuff. Nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon."

Nov. 11, 2003: Flood Lite drove to Montgomery to play another of its regular sets at West Virginia Tech. "The crowd was the usual too-hip-to-have-fun college group," Charlie reported to his mom in an email, "but you could tell some of them were listening and enjoying. In fact, I looked back at one point and saw a couple of guys in the food line trying to dance to 'Soldier's Joy' -- that was a hoot. The students were a lot quieter during the music than in previous times, which we took to be a good sign.”

Nov. 26, 2003: The day before Thanksgiving, the band practice was at Al’s bar, next to Sam's office near downtown Huntington. Al Hawarny used to own “a real bar” around the corner, but as he aged (he was 87 when we played there), Al found the bar a bit much to operate, so he converted the first floor of his house into a bar and ran it as a hobby now, just for Alfriends. Al (who lived to 92, dying in the spring of 2009) was very proud to hold the oldest beer license in the state. Originally from Kfir, Lebanon, Al's died while fighting the Ottoman Empire in WWI. Al came to the U.S. when he was 14, later got a job in Detroit, then enlisted in WWII and parachuted in France on D-Day. After the war, he returned to Huntington and opened that original bar here in 1948. Sam thought of Al like a grandfather. In fact, it was at “Al's” that Sam met his wife-to-be, Joan, 17 years ago. “She was as a brave souls to walk in the door,” he says. The band Al to be a sweet old guy. The bar was packed that night and the acoustics with the ceramic tile floor were great. The audience had as wonderful time, and the guys enjoyed it a lot.

Dec. 16, 2003: The band was hired to entertain at the Cabell-Huntington Hospital board holiday party at Guyan Country Club. "The hosts gave us a nice table near the stage and fed us," Charlie told his mom in a later email, "quite a nice spread ... At 8 we took the stage and gave them 45 minutes of our liveliest, funniest stuff and the crowd seemed to really like it. And everybody sounded especially fine."

Dec. 19, 2003: On the Friday before Christmas, the band joined their friends Wendell and Linda Dobbs and their Irish band, Blackbirds and Thrushes, for a benefit concert to raise money for Huntington's Our Lady of Fatima church and its project to send surgical teams to Belize.

 

fatima-2003

“We had a great time, though the winter surely had an impact on the crowd,” Charlie told his mom in an email the next day. New Floodster Dave Ball, who arranged the show, was hoping for about 200 people and got about half that, “but honestly,” Charlie reported, “with such a nasty evening, I'm really surprised they had that.

"This was Bub's first good run-through with his new sound system and he rocked! I was a little concerned early on. Dave and I went up the hill at 3 to do an initial check and I was thinking that it just didn't sound all that good through the monitors, which is what band has to hear itself while we play on stage. But between 4 and 6 -- when we had the final sound check -- he really tweaked it, so that when we took the stage for real, it was great. Everybody was just real pleased. And it was quite a workout for Bub, 'cuz he had to work the sound for three different groups -- a youth choir from St. Joe that opened the show, then us, and then Blackbirds and Thrushes."

The crowd was small but very appreciative. "We had some of our best fans in the audience," Charlie noted, "including one lady who literally walked to the show. She lives in the neighborhood, but still... The weather WAS frightful. The trip UP the hill to the church at 6 wasn't too bad, but the trip back DOWN at 10 was something else again. We just took our time and went slow and didn't have any problems, but the roads were an absolute mess and we did see a lot of other people slipping and sliding around.”

Dec. 24, 2003: Long-time fan Nancy McClellan would be spending his first Christmas alone, since husband Harvey was now in a nursing home, so The Flood took him in. She came for a Christmas Eve jam session. “We had a great Christmas Eve," Charlie wrote his mom later, "full of laughs and stories and music. Everybody but Sam made the jam session last night. Joe and Nancy McClellan arrived just moments apart about 7, Doug and Donna came just moments after that, then Dave and then Bub and Yvonne and finally Chuck and Phyllis, so we had a house full -- with the occasional neighbor stopping in, about a dozen people. The music went on until 10:30, with lots of new tunes coming out. Fun times and a great way to cap a great year for the Flood.”

2004

Jan. 29, 2004: The guys rolled into 2004 by playing a morning set before about 2,300 people at the Charleston Civic Center. The event was the annual “Seniors Day,” and the band was invited after planners had heard the group at earlier events in the capitol city, like the shows at the tourism bureau, a fundraiser for West Virginia Public Broadcast and house band duties at the spring “Third House” festivities at the cultural center.

Pamela and Charlie got to the civic center about 9:15 to find Joe already there, “and,” as Charlie later told his mom in an email, “the three of us had to talk our way into the loading area of the civic centers north hall -- no mean trick, that talking part, since we all obviously looked like terrorists to the loading dock folks. But, perhaps convinced by the presence of, well, musical instruments and sound equipment -- you think? -- they finally consented to open the big doors and let us in.”

Senior Day brought in people from all over the state as an annual gathering of senior citizens political action groups, with representatives from all the counties in the state. Joe's fiddle tunes and the swing numbers were a particular hit with the crowd, and Michelle, who had started the previously occasionally sitting in with the band, was on hand to sing a few. At one point, we even got Gov. Bob Wise on the floor to reprise the clog-dancing he'd done with us two years earlier at a Third House event.

Larry NavyFeb. 9, 2004: The Flood dropped by to play music for local musician Larry Navy, who fronted bands around the Tri-State for many years. "What a satisfying little evening of music we had last night!" Charlie told his mom in an email the next day. "As I think I mentioned, Larry Navy plays everything -- keyboards, guitar, trumpet, bass -- and he's the one who has lent Dave Ball the bass that he's been learning on.

"Well, Larry's in pretty bad shape, now wheel-chair bound and not expected to recover, so Bub proposed that some of us go over to Larry's house and play for him. Four of us -- Bub, Dave, Sam and I - did last night and I'm so glad we did. Larry, his wife Vicky and their son were there and we played for an hour for him and they were all so appreciative."

Vicky said later, "You'll never know how much that's raised his spirits." Bub said he even saw a tear on Larry's cheek as we were leaving.It's always amazing to me how music -- music of any kind -- can touch people so deeply.”

frogFeb. 11, 2004:At the jam session, our friend Edwina Ziegler brought the band a weird, wonderful little Valentine's gift, a cute little tin sculpture of a frog playing a guitar. “Some guitar players might take offense," Charlie told his mom in a later email, "but not us. I don't know how the frog feels about it.”

Now, for many years that friendly amphibian stood peacefully strumming atop a bookcase in the Bowen house library where the band practiced, stationed beside a tin cat with a fiddle. Without incident the pair accompanied us each week until seven years later when one night an over-emphatic Dave Peyton, in mid-story, rocked back a bit too far back in his chair, nudged the bookcase and toppled Froggie. The un- (well, only slightly un-) provoked attack inspired a new bit of Flood Lore that we actually captured in audio. Here, then, in this two-minute audio clip is the actual moment of impact, followed by our later recounting of the incident to friends at a subsequent jam session, all of which then prompted a wonderful little story from Joe Dobbs:

STORIES:

-- Frog Attack! In this audio, we first heard the actual attack and then the recounting of the incident at later jam sessions.

Feb. 19, 2004: The Flood had a good time playing at the kickoff bash for the re-election campaign of Huntington mayor David Felinton. It was a paying gig. As Charlie told his mom in an email the next day, “We don't do political gatherings for Felintonfreebies (and we become mysteriously ‘too busy’ when approached by candidates we don't care for), but Felinton's a nice young guy.” Young, indeed. The Pikesville, Md., native was only 25 when he scored a shocking 2000 victory over then-Mayor Jean Dean. And what a strange resume he had as mayor of West Virginia's second-largest city: he was a recent Marshall University graduate who had never held a full-time job. 

For the evening’s performance, the Floodsters gather at the hall about 6:30 for the 7 o'clock gig and started playing early to give them more than their money's worth. It was basically background music, not a show, but, as usual, we got folks dancing in front of us from time to time. Fun crowd. Wrapped it up at 8, we listened to the mayor's short speech, then slipped out the back before the hanger-on politicos started making the rounds of glad-handing.

Now, we’re not claiming any credit for it, but from that February 2004 kickoff, Felinton went on to a second term with a election victory even bigger than the first, defeating six challengers in the Democratic primary and then former Police Chief Gordon Ramey in the November general election. But wait! Maybe there is a Flood Faction at play in Huntington city politics. We seem to recall that Felinton didn’t hire the band for his rallies in his 2008 campaign for a third term, but that his Republican challenger, Kim Wolfe, did, and .... hmmmm.... Wolfe won decisively.

March 3, 2004: The band jammed at the Huntington home of Nancy and Bill Meadows. Everybody started arriving about 6:30, Charlie told his mom in a later email, "along with lots of listeners -- about a dozen, I'm guessing -- and Nancy laid out a great buffet for everyone of baked spaghetti and salad, with homemade pound cake for dessert. We jammed in two long sets, playing new stuff and old stuff. We also presented our hosts with kazoos and a certificate declaring them 'generally upright' and making them 'onery members of The 1937 Flood, authorized (and expected) to play the kazoo when called upon.' They played them We partied until 10 or so. Good times!”

March 30, 2004: Flood Lite hit the road for Montgomery to play its annual afternoon set at West Virginia Tech. "We've played there several times before," Charlie told his mom in an email, "but it's always been in the cafeteria in the lunch hour, a noisy room where students haven't really come to hear music, but to eat and socialize between classes. This time, though, we were invited to play and talk to a class -- actually two classes combined -- sharing thoughts on Appalachian music and culture, and we had a ball. There were probably 50 or 60 students, and we played and talked for an hour. Joe brought a variety of instruments -- a gourd banjo, a mountain dulcimer, a mandolin and several fiddles -- and we played a variety of stuff, from gigs and fiddle tunes to ballad to even one jugband tune. The class really seemed to like it. Very attentive, lots of questions and visiting afterwards. We all had a very good time." Later we got a note from the professor who invited us, Janis Rezek, who said, "You were very helpful with your knowledge of Appalachian music and, of course, delightful to listen to. Even the dean was tapping his foot."

April 24, 2004: Joe was named Tamarack's “Performer of the Year,” and he and Charlie played at the Saturday morning award ceremony in Beckley. Taking the stage at 11 as the meeting started, the duo playing four or five tunes. When the presentations began, the very first award went to Joe as performing artist of the year. After his award, Joe and Charlie camped out in the green room and listened to the rest of the ceremony, then came back out to play several more tunJoe-tamarackes as folks were leaving. Nice day.

April 30 2004: The Flood had a ball playing for the first time at the reception for the Ohio River Festival of Books, hosted by the Cabell County Public Library at the Huntington Civic.

2004-april30

"We had a super time," Charlie told his mom in a later email. "We all arrived there about 6:30 and got set up in the corner of the dining room where all the visiting authors would be assembling for a little food and conversation. We intentionally went without a sound system or a stage. We told the organizer that we knew our place -- we were to be background music for the groups visiting and talking -- and it was very good call on our part. The acoustics in the room were surprisingly good and we didn't need a sound system. We kicked in to our first tune promptly at 7 and the crowd just loved it. We just jammed and everyone was in a very good mood and of course, the music reflected that. We did a 45-minute set, then took a break for refreshments and a little glad-handing. Then we did a second set and wrapped it up. The organizers were very pleased with the way it went." We would be invited back a number of times over the years.

May 1, 2004: A Flood Lite contingent -- Dave, Doug, Charlie and Bub -- played the 2004 spring festival at Heritage Farm and Village Museum. This year we had to set up in the sun and "it was not particularly comfortable, but it was fun being with the guys and the crowds seemed to like the music," Charlie emailed his mom later.

2004 farm fest

John Billheimer"One particularly nice moment came at the very end," Charlie noted. "John Bilheimer is a well-known new mystery writer who lives in California, but was actually born and reared in Huntington. John was home this weekend to particiate in the big festival and we met him Friday night when the band played the reception there. Bub has a connection with the family -- John's mom was Bub's 7th grade music teacher. At the Friday night do, John bought a copy of the new CD.

"Well, just as we were wrapping up on Saturday afternoon, here comes John with his mom in a wheelchair and his brother. They had come out, in part, specifically to hear us play. Well, had to honor that, so we unpacked everything again and played a couple of tunes just for Mrs. Bilheimer. John was grateful and even bought another CD. Nice memory -- nice family.”

Incidentally, a funny story from that afternoon was still being told by the band members years later. As Charlie related in an email, earlier in his Huntington visit, Bilheimer had already bought a CD.

Then, "while listening to us playing at the farm, he would say,'Hey, that's a great song? Is that on the CD I just bought?' And we'd say, 'no, sorry, that's on the first CD.' So he'd buy that one too. Then we'd play another one he'd like and he'd say, 'Wow -- is that on either of these CDs?' Uhhh, no, that's on the newest CD... By the end, he'd bought of 'em all, but only after accusing The Flood of 'bait and switch.'"

May 7, 2004: The Flood introduced its third studio album, "I'd Rather Be Flood," with a CD release party at the Renaissance Ballroom, and "wow, what a great show last night!" Charlie told his mom in an email. "I knew it would be -- we always have such a good time at that place. We got there about 4 yesterday afternoon and, after running around a bit to try someone with a key to let us in, we got the sound system set up and the sound check done. That took about an hour and a half. Then a some of us -- Chuck and Phyllis, Dave, Doug and Donna and Pamela and I -- headed over to Wendy's to grab a sandwich, getting back to the hall at 7 to start greeting the folks who came out to hear us. Ended up having about a hundred folks -- not bad at all for a busy Friday night in the spring time -- and show was just wonderful. Everybody was in such fine form." In the first set, we did all tunes from the new CD. The highlight of the second set, when we did some newer, was the debut of Sam's featured tune, "Ain't No Free," and the crowd loved that.

May 15, 2004: We played the latest "jugband breakfast" at Coon Sanders, playing to a packed house of jazz lovers. "It's always amazing to me how much these guys like what we do," Charlie confided to his mom in an email later. "I mean, while our music and theirs comes from some of the same roots, many jazz guys are kind of persnickety about letting anybody else in 'the club,' but these guys really enjoy the happy jugband sound we give them for breakfast and seem to look forward to it each year. We got so many great comments.”

2004-CS

We even had Chuck Romine switch from banjo to tuba for a few tunes, giving Doug a chance to move to mandolin to wear our his fingers in new ways! But there was another reason for the change in instrumentation. Just before Pamela took this picture, Charlie broke a string on his Martin. Dave Ball, who had been playing with us less than a year -- this was his first Coon Sanders -- was on stage with us. When he saw Charlie break a string, he said, 'Here, take mine!" and handed Charlie his Ovation. Dave then moved to bass, Doug moved to mandolin and we just carry on with the set.

May 23, 2004: The Flood performed on the first concert in a then-new series at the town of Ceredo’s amphitheater. It was a beautiful setting, and the town got some grant money for the concert series once a month on Sunday afternoons during the summer and fall.

Ceredo

The advance of the concert and its aftermath generated a lot of press attention. For instance, The Ashland Independent published two Flood-centric pieces before the show, one on May 9 and the second, a feature by Lee Ward, on May 21. And following the show, two local papers published photos from the show, on page 1 of The New Crescent and on page 1 of the Wayne County News.

And we did get a bit of new Flood lore during the evening. The amphitheater is located near a railroad track and we learned that afternoon and evening that railroaders aren’t banjo fans; every time we turned to Chuck Romine and his tenor banjo and said, “Take it, Dr. Jazz!” a train came by and drowned out his solo. He said later it was hard not to take it personally.

STORIES:

-- How Trains Feel about Banjos: Charlie and Chuck recall the Ceredo gig years later.

May 30, 2004: The Flood returned to Beckley to play a Sunday afternoon concert at Tamarack again and "had a great time on the road! ... Bub was there to run Tamarack's sound system. He's getting just better and better with it and I think everybody on stage is just so relaxed, knowing that Bub's taking care of business. That's very good feeling. As we got ready for the 2 p.m. show, the place filled up. It was the biggest crowd we've yet played there. In fact, we had people sitting out in the hallways because they couldn't find seats downfront. And we connected with the audience right away and held from for the entire hour. Afterwards, Tim Pyles, the Tamarack guy who books us, came up grinning ear to ear and saying, 'Gee, I wish everybody we booked in here was like you guys. You're so positive and upbeat -- everybody has such a good time!' I felt really honored that he said that.Good day.”

appyfilmJune 4, 2004: Harmonicat Sam St. Clair was one of the movers and shakers in the brand new Appalachian Film Festival, so it was only natural that he’d want to get his band involved in the festival’s inauguration. That's why that late spring Friday night found Floodsters rolling into in the snazzy Frederick building in downtown Huntington to play the cocktail reception at the the Tapas bar (later renamed Rocco’s 21). As Charlie told his mom in an email the next day, “The crowd was small -- the turnout for the festival itself has been modest -- but appreciative and we enjoyed ourselves. And we also liked doing it for Sam -- he does so much for the band and asks so little in return. It was fun letting him show off for his people.”

The festival showed a half dozen films a day for three days and offered technical workshops. A big “get” for that first year was that Disney studios contacted the festival and asked to screen a documentary called “America: Heart and Soul.” They sent a VP to town with it. The other films were shown in the auditorium of city hall, but the Disney movie was shown at the historic Keith-Albee Theater. The film tied together about a dozen true-life inspiring tales of hardworking regular Americans. One segment dealt with steelmakers in Weirton, West Virginia, who bought their own company when it was going to close. Another was about a weaver from Berea, Kentucky. She was in the audience and was asked to say a few words after the showing. She was as eloquent there as she was in the film -- about the importance of being free to be whatever you wanted and that America celebrates diversity.

The Flood continued to play at the film festival’s events in subsequent years.

anowshoe-2004June 19, 2004: It was the highest the band had ever played to date … uh, up 4,000 feet, that is, atop West Virginia's Snowshoe Mountain. It was the fifth or sixth time The Flood had performed in the area, but only the second time we'd played "up top," as they say, the first time to be invited by Snowshoe Resort itself.

The gig was a western-style picnic lunch set up at a big pavilion during the annual Property Owners Weekend. (The property owners either had houses on resort property or own condos and once a year, Snowshoe treated them to a weekend of events.) In keeping with the western theme, they issued us all cowboy hats and bandanas for the day, and we considered kicking off the first set at noon with “Somebody Stole My Cow” before switching back “Gal.”

After a grand time on our first 45-minute set, a line-dance group performed for an hour or so, while we ate and played with the mechanical bull they'd brought in for the kids. Then we came back to finish up with tunes for the dancers to jive to. Fun afternoon.

STORIES:

-- Songs to Ride the Bull By. Charlie recall gigging at Snowshoe Resort and watching folks riding a mechanical bull to one of the tunes.

June 28, 2004: The band played a noontime set at Huntington's Rotary Club. “I got to the downtown hotel where the luncheon would be about 10:30 to help Bub finish up the set up," Charlie told his mom in a later email. "The rest of the guys arrived by 11 and we did the sound check. Had a coupla bugs to swat -- a bad mike, a quarrelsome cable -- but by 11:25 we were ready, and could grab a bite to eat and be back by 11:45 to launch into our first tune. The first set -- a 25-minuter -- was especially background music with a couple a vocals thrown in at the end. After that, they speechified for 10 or 15 minutes, then we played our show set from 12:25 to 12:45, with tunes featuring vocals by both Chuck and Sam -- since both are members of that organization, we wanted to show 'em off. It all went well -- we were very well received, and they paid us a little more than the promised, which is always nice.”

June 30, 2004: , The weekly Flood gathering moved to David and Yvonne Ball's house for the evening for "a great little public jam session," Charlie told his mom in an email. " The whole band wasn't there -- neither Joe nor Dave couldn't make it -- but it didn't matter at all. That's the amazing thing about The Flood -- whoever's there makes interesting music. Chuck played the tenor guitar most of the evening, and Doug doubled on mandolin and lead guitar and it was excellent. ... We had the jam out in front of the house on their patio and there were probably 15 or 20 folks there at one time or another, coming for a free show. Fun!”

July 10, 2004: For more than a decade, Charlie had been singing duet with his young cousin, Kathy Castner, whenever she came for a visit to Huntington from her home near Cincinnati. However, in all that time, they’d never tried to record any of Kathy Castner and Charliethese rare vacation jam sessions. But now that The Flood had three — count ‘em! three — studio albums under its belt, Charlie wanted to give Kathy a taste of what a recording session was like, and he enlisted friend and neighbor Bo Sweeney to help. Bo had been building a studio behind the house and had been learning about audio technique, so he jumped at the idea.

The entire band was not available for that Saturday night, but Flood Lite — Joe, Doug and Bub — joined Kathy and Charlie in the Bowen house where Bo was busy stringing his mikes. “And what a great session it was!” Charlie told his mom in an email afterwards, “just exactly what I wanted her first experience recording to be.”

The weather was a little dicey -- rain and thunderstorms -- and they worried a little that the power might be knocked out last night, but it all held together fine.

“Kathy was a real trooper,” Charlie said in the email. “I don't think anyone would have imagined that this was the first time she'd ever recorded. It can be real intimidating when we sit down to record the first time and realize, gee, if I mess up just one line, we got to start all over. She was just in wonderful voice and everything just rocked. The guys hadn't ever heard most of the songs we were recording and they weren't in keys that were usual for us, so we had to run through them a few times, but after two or three go-throughs, we were ready to roll and on almost every tune, we nailed it on the first or second take. We wrapped up by 11 and everyone was very happy with the session.”

Later Bo did his engineering magic on the recordings so that Charlie give Kathy a private-release CD of the evening, Here are three tunes from the session. (Today,” “The Way You Do the Things You Do” and “Time in a Bottle,” July 10, 2004.)

July 16, 2004: The band played an evening private party for Jenkins Fenstermaker law firm at Heritage Farm Museum and Village. "They wanted us to perform on end of the porch of the first big building there, the welcome center, where we've played a number of times," Charlie told his mom i an email, "and the organizer had a goofy idea -- she wanted us to us to set up facing away from the porch and toward this open field below the porch. Her thinking, apparently, was that if we faced that way that it would draw the folks out into the open. Well, no, most of the folks at the party wanted to sit on the porch itself, which would have put them at our back. That didn't make any sense, but she was the boss, so we set up that want initially. However, with the first set at 6, since the crowd was still coming in and gathering around the porch, we decided to go without the sound system. Instead, we sat and played unamplified, facing the folks and it went quite well. After the set, the folks started eating -- we did too. At the second set, we did use the sound system, but since the audience still was mainly on the porch behind us, we decided to turn our chair to face them and let our monitors serve as the speakers. That went quite well. Despite our initial goofiness with the sound system, everyone was playing especially well and the crowd seemed to love it.”

July 30, 2004: The band was brought back Prickett’s Fort state park near Fairmont, WV, by Melissa Dobbins to play another evening show. "It was a hot and sticky afternoon and threatened rain the whole during the sound check," Charlie told his mom in an email, "and it just seemed like it wasn't going to be in the cards to have this concert outdoors. And that's just how it worked out. Right at 6:30, a half hour before the show was to begin, it started raining. Not hard, but hard enough that we needed to move the instruments inside and cover the equipment. At that time, we made an executive decision to move the concert from the outdoor amphitheater to the building they call 'The Barn.' It was up the hill and would comfortably hold maybe 75 people. And we packed the place. Indoors, we were able to do the show without the sound system, which was fun. We didn't have to worry about mikes or feedback, but just singing and playing the songs and connecting with the audience. And they had a ball. We may have been one of the best gigs we've had. Lots of a fun. At one point in the first set, it looked like the sun going to pop out and I thought, Shoot -- we may the wrong call -- we shoulda stayed outside. But then, before the first set ended, the rain came down hard. If we had opted to stay out, that rain would have been a concert-ender. So, it worked out that we made the right decision. After the show, we visited with a lot Floodsters who were hearing the band for the second time, having been there for our show last year."

Aug. 2, 2004: The band got a little river cruise as we played again in The Delta Queen's cozy Texas Lounge. It all started when an acquaintance of ours, a guest lecturer on the boat, recommended The Flood be invited back on board to play. He had heard us the previous October and saw how well the passengers enjoyed that show.

This tim we would have to board the boat upriver in Point Pleasant, about a hour from Huntington, so The Delta Queen Co. hired three taxicabs to pick up us and our instruments from Huntington to Point Pleasant. They scheduled it so we would get there in time to join the passengers and crew for lunch in the Orleans Room – picnic-style ribs, fried chicken, fried catfish, pecan pie – after which, we moved up to the Texas deck to play our 45-minutes set in the lounge. We then stowed the instruments again and were free to enjoy the rest of the cruise down to Huntington.

DQ August 2004

The gift shop sold the new CD and passengers wanted them autographed and to chat with us during the leisurely four-hour downstream cruise. The boat wasn’t scheduled to stop in Huntington, so when we got to Harris Riverfront Park, the pilot just pulled over to the bank and lowered the stage long enough for us to scamper off. As we did, the passengers on deck (who had been told the reason the boat was making the brief stop) shouted and applauded, and the captain blew a whistle salute. Very nice memory!

Aug. 7, 2004: David and Charlie spent Sunday afternoon at a Russell, Ky., nursing home in a surprise visit to Nancy and Harvey McClellan to play for this 50th wedding anniversary. The 89-year-old Harvey would die 2 1/2 months later. "Harvey's going down fast," Charlie told his mom in an email, "but he seemed to enjoy the music, even singing along with us from time and time and laughing with us when we joked with him. I'm glad we did it.”

Aug. 14, 2004
: Being the senior Flood founder, Joe Dobbs was the first of us to reach the age 70, and we celebrated that event with a wonderful party in the backyard of Sam and Joan St. Clair, a gathering of Dobbs family and friends from a half dozen states.

birrhday

We saw Joe smile a year’s worth of smiles that fine day. As Charlie told his mom in an email after the do, “Wow, what a great party we had for Joe's 70th yesterday! The party got rolling at 2 and people came in from all over. Rog rode his motorcycle in from Mount Sterling, Buddy drove in Glenville, Many came in from Charleston and Ashland. We must have had about 75 people and lots a music. In fact, we had constant music from about 2:30 to 5, with all the musicians taking turns in center stage.

"And we had some surprises for Joe, all through the good works of Edwina. At one point, Michelle the Chick Singer, dressed up as Marilyn Monroe, complete with blonde wig, did a 'Happy Birthday, Mister President' number. Later Edwina dressed in her flapper outfit with boa and danced to one of our jugband swing tunes.

"The absolute highlight of the afternoon was the party's surprise hula dancers. Edwina order three grass skirts and coconut bras for Sam, Bub and Dave. With Hawaiian music playing on the CD player, the three pranced out and danced around Joe. Pretty amazing.

"And the food was fantastic. Sharon Pressman, a professional caterer, was in the crowd and brought an amazing spread. Bub and Yvonne, also professional caterers, answered the challenge. Nobody went hungry. We partied right up to 5. The weather cooperated all day long and everybody had a ball. Now tomorrow, Joe and his sister Lucille, visiting from Mississippi for the party, take off for a week in Washington, a treat for both of them. I know they're leaving with wonderful memories.”

If you want to see more of Pamela Bowen's pictures from Joe’s 70, you can dig back into the Internet’s dusty archives by clicking here.

STORIES:

-- Dave Does Show Tunes. It starts with "Old Man River" and devolves into "I Feel Pretty..."

paramountAug. 20, 2004: At the kind invitation of long-time friend Ritch Collins, The Flood performed at the Paramount Arts Center coffeehouse in Ashland, Ky., a nice room right off the large marble lobby of the classic old downtown theaters.

In those days, the coffeehouse featured live music every Friday night during the summer. And incidentally, we would use that same venue eight years later for the opening night of the three-day Joe Dobbs Book Tour.

Meanwhile, for our summer 2004 gig there, because we have a larger ensemble that usually played the venue, Ritch and folks opened the doors between the coffeehouse and lobby, and set up the band in the lobby, under glittering chandeliers, and moved small tables out there.

It was a little different set up for us that night, since Joe and Bub couldn't make the gig, we moved Doug to guitar and mandolin and asked our firend Danny Gillum to sit in bass for the night. Fun, memorable evening!

Sept. 11, 2004: The band played two venues in the same day, starting at the Huntington Museum of Art's amphitheater for its Hilltop Festival followed by the annual Fraley Festival at Carter Caves in Kentucky that evening. Plays HMA’s Hilltop Festival, amphitheater, and that evening, the Fraley Fest.

2004-setp11

At HMA, we played two sets between 1 and 4 " had a pretty good crowd, all things considered," Charlie told mom in an email. "There are a lot of distractions at the festival, such as a petting zoos and pony rides for the kids, a food court for eating, the book sale, a craft fair. We liked the amphitheatre a lot -- it's a good place to play, because we can all hear each other real well. We wrapped up at 4, broken down the system and got it packed up again and got back down the hill by 4:45 or so.

"We freshened up and had a bit of a quick dinner. The weather was fantastic here all day and all night Saturday. Just perfect for all those outdoor activities. And the day continued into the night. About 6:30 Saturday, the Flood was at it again. Sam, Bub and Dave came by and the four of us took Sam's van to Carter Caves to meet up with Joe and Doug to play a couple of tunes at the annual Fraley Festival. We were honored to be there when the festival gave certificates of appreciation to Doug and Donna for the long service to the festival. They were both surprised and touched, I think. Couldn't happen to a better couple."

Sept. 14, 2004: The band was hired by Mary Cliff ("the Bug Lady") to play a political rally for Felington, a reprise of the event the group played the previous February. "The the mayor had a heckuva turnout -- I'm guessing a hundred or so of his closest supporters -- and we played from a stage in the front of the hall," Charlie told his mom in an email. . The acoustics were great and we had a ball, as always. We played a combination of background music and featured songs. We took a break at 7:30 and made a few remarks to the crowd. Then we did our second set from 8 until about 8:45, kicking it up a notch or two in intensity and the crowd seemed to like that too.”

Sept. 25-26, 2004: The Flood hit the road going east for a weekend of back-to-back shows. One of the few hitches in the road trip was that we got a call from Sam saying that his wife, Joan, had thrown out her back and that he wouldn't be able to Roadkillmake the trip to either of the gigs, but we carried on.

The Saturday show was in the exceedingly neat little West Virginia town of Marlinton, tucked into the Pocahontas County mountains, where the guys played the 3rd annual "Road Kill Cookoff.” The gig was in a beautiful gazebo in the center of the town square on the edge of a little park. The cookoff, Charlie told his mom, was "a cool and crazy little event that features all kinds of native game -- squirrel, possum, bear meat, deer and so on, cooked up in chilli, sausa, stews, fillets. Also there were crafts and arts tents all over town. And everyone we met was so neat and so happy that we were there."

OldChurchAfter our third set at 4, we broke down the system, tucked the gear into Joe's car (he had more room than the rest of us) and headed out to the next adventure of the weekend.

"As part of the deal to play Marlinton, Pamela and had arranged for the fair planners to get us rooms for the night," Charlie's email noted, "and they put us up at a wonderful 100-year-old farmhouse bed and breakfast called 'Current' out in the hills near Hillsboro, WV. It was about a 10-minute drive into the mountains, but worth every second of it. Leslee McCarty, our hostess, actually is an old friend of Dave and Susie Peyton's from Barboursville, and she's been running this B&B on the Appalachian Trail for nine years. The place is a marvel -- huge, full of antiques and old pictures and big, comfortable rooms. She had places for all of us. We settled in, freshened up and then, in an hour or so, went back down the hill to Richwood to 'The Country Cafe' for one of the best dinners I've ever had on the road. Excellent food. After dinner, we headed back and had a little evening jam session for Leslie and her other overnights guests in the farmhouse parlor. Nice little memory there."

In addition to the farmhouse, Charlie wrote, "Leslie and her family also owns a cute little 80-year-old church on the adjacent lot, so after breakfast, we took instruments up the hill and sat there in the church playing and singing some old hymns. The acoustics in the place were astounding and it was one of the sweeter memories of the day!”

2004-Cranberry

For the second part of the weekend travels, The Flood drove just 20 minutes up the road -- and all uphill -- to Cranberry Glades for the band’s third straight year at the Mountain Shindig, "We saw many folks from the previous years who came, grabbed seats in the front and stayed the whole time," Charlie wrote. "We put on our best shows of the weekend there. And, as we have the past two years, we shared the stage with a troupe of dancers called The Old Dominion Cloggers, who are great fun to be with. They enjoy us and we enjoy them. We wrapped up in Cranberry at 3:30 and hit the road, taking the northern routine home over the mountains -- smoother roads and prettier views.”

Sept. 29, 2004: The Bowen’s young neighbor, Chip Sweeney, jammed with the band. And when we say “young,” we’re talking 5 years old. The accompanying pictures show Chip sitting in on the "kinder-music" cardboard dulcimer that he had made in school. He had come over to the rehearsal room that evening with his father, Bo. A few days after the pictures were taken, Charlie was talking to Chip’s mom, Patty, out front and she said, "Get this: Bo asked Chip if he'd rather go to the Marshall game Wednesday night or play with The Flood and catch the end of the game on TV. And Chip said, 'I'm gonna play with The Flood!'" Uh-huh…. Like Socrates, we have a long history of corrupting the youth... Chip is grown now, and last month he left for his freshman year in Chapel Hill at the University of North Carolina, where he’s studying to be a broadcast journalist.

chip

STORIES:

-- Corrupting the Youth. Charlie and David recall The Flood's history in the corruptions of the region's youth.


Oct. 9, 2004: The band played a fund-raiser called "The Great Pig Out" BBQ for the local Contact Rape Crisis Center, whose director is Flood fan Sharon Pressman. The boys played for two hours and then another band (which, as we recall, dubbed itself "Flotsam After The Flood" for the event) took over for the final two hours.

Mad Anthony

The event, which was covered in advance by The Herald-Dispatch, was at Camp Mad Anthony Wayne, out in the woods about 8 miles away, in a large rustic lodge with a large covered deck. Sharon, a caterer, provided all the food, the weather was perfect and those attending seemed to have a good time. A highlight of the gig was Sam in his brand new “Free Martha” shirt, which he wore in honor of Martha Stewart's first full day of incarceration at West Virginia's federal prison at Alderson.

Oct. 10, 2004: The band hit the road to return to West Virginia's New River Gorge to play the wedding of Clint Curtis and Mergan Boggs at Smokey's on the Gorge, "very good venue," Charlie told his mom in email. "The accoustics are great and room and shaped just right. Bub arrived a bit later -- in fact, I was little worried that he wouldn't make it in time to set us up for the first background music set. But he got there at 12:30 and we hurried and got the system up and tested and started on time at 1 o'clock. It was a great audience -- they really got into the music dancing in the aisles as well as in front of the bandstand. Very enjoyable. We played a solid 45-minute opening set, took at 25-minute break, then headed back for another 45-minute to an hour set of livelier music.

"During the break, we discovered that there was a very good jazz trumpet player named Greg in the audience and we talked him into sitting in with us for a few tunes. Greg rocked! What fun. In fact, we told him to hang around and sit a little on the third set too. Also, one of Sam's friends, another harmonica player, was there too, so we got him up on stage to play along on a fiddle tune."

After the second set, we got a little food -- the catering there is exceptional -- then came back for a last set. We played "Moonglow" for the bride and groom's first dance together, then suddenly there was a half dozen other couples joining them, so we kept the tune going. After that, while the dancers were still there, we kicked into "That'll Be the Day," which they played, followed by another few dance tunes. "By the end of the third set," Charlie wrote, "we were all pretty tired -- we'd been at it for four hours -- but we had enough energy to wrap up with our usual show-ender, 'San Franciso Bay Blues' -- and we got Greg back up there on trumpet. Great way to end."

Oct. 14, 2004: At Heritage Farm Museum & Village, The Flood was brought in to entertain a group of gathering of visiting doctors affiliated with the national Children's Health Fund. "What a hoot!" Charlie told his mom in an email later. "The woman who booked us for the gig was from New York, and among the 80 or so people at the dinner at the farm were those from California, L.A., Memphis, Florida -- it was quite a diverse and rowdy/fun-loving bunch."

We really didn't know if we'd be doing background music or a show, and turned out to be a little of both. "And the crowd really loved our music," Charlie wrote. "I was talking with Doug later and we both enjoy watching the surprise on people's faces. When they see us -- fiddle, guitar, accoustic bass -- they think they've got us pegged as a 'hillbilly band' before we hit our first note. Then they hear us go from 'Turkey in the Straw' to 'Moonglow' to 'Rag Mama' without a blink. Michelle, The Chick Singer, joined us for both sets and she was a huge hit with the crowd, really rocking the place."

One funny thing that happened is that someone brought in a bit of "authentic West Virginia moonshine" in a Mason jar and all those flatlanders took a swig, while we pointed out from the bandstand, "You might notice that none of the West Virginians aren't sampling it..." That got a laugh. "Anyway," Charlie reported later, "after yankees got into the 'shine, they danced to just about everything we played! We played a long first set (about an hour), took a 20-minute break to grab some food, then went back and did another 45 minutes."

Oct. 23, 2004: We gathered in Ashland, Ky., to give a hearty send-off to the one of our oldest, dearest friends. Harvey McClellan and his wife Nancy were at all the parties in the 1970s when The 1937 Flood began evolving into Harvey and Nancythe band it is today. Harvey, who even recommended tunes the Family Flood could tackle over the years, was especially excited when in 2000 The Flood began regularly playing at the Coon Sanders Nighthawks Reunion Bash, an annual gathering of traditional jazz fans in Huntington. While a native of Henderson, Ky., Harvey spent much of his early years in Chicago and even had family members associated with that gathering’s namesake, The Coon Sanders Original Nighthawks Orchestra. Harvey had great original stories to share from the late ’20s and ‘30s and loved The Flood's jugband tunes of that era.

So it was only natural when Harvey passed away in October 2004, at the age of 89, that Nancy would ask The Flood to play the background music at the memorial service for her partner of 60 years. It was a busy weekend for us — we played in Huntington earlier in the day and in Lexington, Ky. the next day — but there was no question that we would be there for Harvey and Nancy; they had always then there for us. Here's a tune we did that evening for Harvey's service, "Closer Walk With Thee," Oct. 23, 2004).

STORIES:

-- Harvey was the Captive Audience. David and Charlie remember playing at Harvey's memorial service.

Oct. 24, 2004: Traveling for a beautiful autumn day in horse country, Flood Lite – Joe, Doug and Charlie – performed an afternoon of tunes for those coming and going at the Fall Meet at Keeneland in Lexington.

KeenelandWhile we weren't scheduled to start playing until noon, we reached the grandstand early, so they put us to work at 11:30, escorting us up to a neat little balcony over the main entrance, just off a snazzy board room. There we sat in a cozy in semicircle overlooking the folks coming in by the dozens in a steady stream. From there we played four half-hour sets, taking five- and ten-minute breaks between each. For the selections, we alternated among fiddle tunes, swing numbers, jug band pieces and folk songs. Several thousands folks pass through below us as we played, giving us lots of smiles and thumbs-ups.

A little before 2, we took a break and Doug and Charlie went to find a bite to eat while Joe took a quick nap. When we got back, our contact was ready to move us to a new location on the other side of the complex. The young man carried Doug's bass for him; good thing, 'cuz it was quite a hike. While we were going, the fellow paid us a very nice compliment, saying we were the best band that had played at the fall meet. Initially we didn't realize the significance of that remark until the next day when we looked on the Keeneland web site and found out they've been having entertainment there every weekend since Oct. 8, more than a dozen different groups.

For the last hour of the day, we played down on ground level near the clubhouse, in a beautiful little enclosed courtyard where lots of folks walked by. It was just what we needed to get re-energized and we had a ball, playing until our hands darn-near dropped off. We even got folks dancing to some of the fiddle tunes. Fun way to end the day.

Oct. 31, 2004: For the second time in three months, we flooded the good ol’ Delta Queen steamboat. Invited by cruise director Jazzou Jones for an encore of our August performance in the riverboat’s Texas Lounge, the Floodsters headed DQupriver to meet the boat in Point Pleasant, WV, for the show. As Charlie told his mom in an email the next day, “Pamela and I got the town just a bit after the Delta Queen arrived. Jazzou was there right away to meet us and take us on board.”

Joe and Edwina and Bub and Yvonne arrived shortly afterwards and were all on hand to join the Bowens forlunch in the Orleans Room. “After that,” Charlie wrote, “it was just lazin' around the decks for a few hours, enjoying the company and the sights. It's funny how quickly we all get acclimated to ‘steamboatin' time,’ where you just enjoy sitting back and doing, well, nothing.”

By 2, Sam and Dave and Susie and Sam arrived and we got ready for the show. “By 3:15, we'd gathered in the Texas Lounge and already had a pretty big crowd. We kicked off with a fiddle tune a little before 3:30 to fill up the rest of the seats, and then began the regular, planned show of fiddle tunes. The highlight of the set was getting Jazzou sitting in with us on piano. He is such a fine musician and it's such a gas to have him playing with us and the crowd really loves it.”

The band played about almost an hour, then wrapped up, packed up and hurried off the boat. We had to be ashore no later than 20 to 5, when the steamer was set to continue its tour upriver.

wmmtNov. 20, 2004: David, Joe, Sam and Charlie hit the road south for a 2 1/2-hour trek to Whitesburg, Ky., to be on a WMMT-FM radio show hosted by Floodster Emeritus Stew Schneider. The youngster on the pilgrimage, Sam, handled the driving, piloting wife Joan’s new van over the mountains and through the woods in style, allowing his bandmates to kick back and laugh and lie all the way there and back. The merry band reached Whitesburg about 11:15 and got set up. The show was live, so there was no backing up and erasing mistakes; therefore, the guys just treated it like a concert and had a ball, with Stew interviewing each of them between the songs.

The afternoon also was notable because Sam finally did his backflip. On the radio. Naked. We were still telling the story five years later when Sam’s status as the youngest Floodster was handed over to teen-aged guitarist Jacob Scarr. Here, in a bit of audio, are Joe, David and Charlie telling Jacob The Backflip Story, concluding with The Naked Truth about the Whitesburg radio show. The legendary leap also came up on Joe's own radio show, "Music from the Mountains," in a bit of chatter that started out about the band's website and drifted into talk of premieum services that Sam might offer.

Nov. 25, 2004: At Our Lady of Fatima Catholic church, Flood Lite played a benefit Thanksgiving do for police and fire fighters with Nancy McClellan in attendance. “We had a nice Thanksgiving here," Charlie emailed his mom afterwards. "Nancy arrived from 2004 XmasAshland about 12:30 and we hied ourselves over to Bub's church, where he and Yvonne were setting out a remarkable spread -- ham, turkey and several kinds of dressing, beans and corn. Pamela took the three pumpkin pies she made, which were a huge hit. And we had lots of music. Joe and Dave were already there when we arrived and Bub played a bit with us, when he wasn't performing cookin'-eatin' duties. Fun day!”

Dec. 9, 2004: The band played a Christmas party at Our Lady of Fatima church. "We let them feed us," Charlie told his mom in an email later. ". It was a big cover-dish spread, with plenty to eat. Good stuff!"

Then at 7:45," the email continued, "we launched into a hour of music that the group had paid for. We mixed in a couple of Christmas tunes we worked out, starting with 'Here Comes Santa Claus.' 'Course, being The Flood, we couldn't really 'play it straight.' They way we do it, we start without Joe, with Sam playing the melody on the harp, then on the second chorus, Joe arrives, complete with a Santa hat, finishing it up. It was a great start. After that, we launched into an instrumental version of "Walkin in a Winter Wonderland" before going into our regular non-Christmas stuff. The crowd reacted very well to everything we did, and had a ball when we handed out the kazoos and got them playing along."

The RominesDec. 19. 2004: Chuck Romine decided that he needed to end his regular involvement with the band in order to spend more time with his family, which now was spread far and wide, with children and grandchildren to visit in many locations. (Heand Phyllis already spending up to a third of the yearout of town -- either visiting kids or warming up in their Port St. Lucie, FL, winter home -- and were hoping to increase it to six months.)

Chuck — “Doctor Jazz,” as we called him — had been with The Flood only four years, but his influence on us was huge. His rollicking tenor banjo and his roots in Dixieland music had helped him introduce us to much new music; many of the tunes and arrangements he brought us we would still be playing decades later.

And Chuck would be back often to sit in at jam sessions and sometimes on stage as a special guest (most notably as he did nine months later when The Flood played its last gig on the great Delta Queen steamboat). As Charlie told the guys in an email later that day, “It’s a little known fact, but you can't really quit The Flood. Like all good baptisms, once you're in (and good and dunked), you're pretty much in for life. So, instead of being 'ex' anything, Chuck now gets to call himself 'Floodster Emeritus.'" It was the first time we ever used that term, and it would stick.

Dec. 31, 2004: David, Charlie and Doug played Nancy McClellan’s New Year’s Eve party in Ashland.

2005

Jan. 12, 2005: We went into 2005 planning to take a month or so off. Motivations were many for this little sabbatical: (1) Chuck had just left the band a month before and we weren't sure which direction we would take next, (2) Joe and Doug were both a little under the weather, and (3) none of us particularly fancied the notion of trekking out into especially cold January nights. But our long winter’s nap was not yet two weeks old when a gig — one of the strangest we’d play in years — called us back into service.

Patricia Carter, who ran the Two Old Crows Antique Store on Huntington’s West 14th Street, was a long-time Flood fan, so when the 69-year-old retired teacher died, it was only natural – or at least so it seemed to her and her sons Chris and Kenny, anyway – to have the band play at her memorial service. Of course, we explained that we didn’t have a lot of funeral-friendly music, but they said, “No, we don't want it to be sad -- that's why we're asking you to come.”

For the get-together at the Ramada Inn after the visitation, we arrived early for the soundcheck and were playing when the guests arrived. And yes, we got a few curious looks from the early arrivals who weren't accustomed to jug band tunes at a memorial, but Pat would have grinned at the fact that her evening also gave us a great little story that we were still telling years later:

STORIES:

Playing a Wake. Charlie recalls the odd winter’s evening as the band entertained folks who had just arrived from a funeral home.

March 17, 2005: Throughout the winter of 2005, our compatriot Joe Dobbs had been usually quiet, not coming to jam sessions, nor returning phone calls nor even or answering emails regularly. It had us wondering the un-wonderable, that perhaps the man who had fiddled into our lives 30 years earlier had suddely lost interest in music in general or maybe just in The Flood in particular. "Hell, no," Peyton smirked. "I think it's a woman!"

We were all wrong. In an email to all us one spring morning, Joe explained what he called his “great silence”: the previous December he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer, and he had told no one. In fact, even Edwina Ziegler, who lived with him, hadn't found out until month earlier, three months after the dianosis, and she had been sworn to secrecy. In a phone call with Charlie later that day, Joe said he had kept the news and subsequent treatments it a secret because he didn't want to get back to his children, and he figured the fewer people who knew the better. In followup calls and emails over the next weeks, Joe reported he was feeling fine, but didn't have a lot of energy. It would be another few weeks before he returned to The Flood fold.

March 30, 2005: At a jam session at Doug Chaffin's house in Ashland, Joe Dobbs made his first appearance since we learned of his cancer treatments. While his playing was a little rusty, "attitude-wise, it was The Old Joe," Charlie happily told his mom in an email later than night. "He had jokes and stories to share.”

April 5, 2005: Flood Lite traveled to Montgomery for its annual afternoon gig at West Virginia Tech. "It was a beauty drive," Charlie told his mom in a later email, "springtime in the mountains, and Doug and I arrived with plenty time for a quick sandwich before meeting up with Joe at the college. We rolled in to the classroom at 1:45, tuned up and were playing when the students and teachers arrived at 2. The program lasted a little over an hour, with us playing tunes between sections of Joe's talk about Appalachian music history.”

April 27, 2005: The weekly jam session was "wonderful," Charlie told his mom in an email. "I swear, it was just like The Old Days. Joe was there and you would have never thought he'd had any health problems at all. He played all evening with strength and imagination. ... To say we were surprised would be an understatement! Also Michelle came by for the first time in months and we enjoyed working on her tunes.”

4-H CampMay 1, 2005: At the 4-H Camp near Barboursville, the band played a big party hoted by United Bank. "Nice place!" Charlie told his mom in a later email. "It's a big stone lodge of the WPA days with a wonderful stage.... The guys started arriving at noon and we did our sound check to get the mikes set right. We started playing a little after 12:30 as the folks started coming. This was a special 'community day' by United Bank for its preferred customer. The head of the bank, Doug Duncan, was a heck of nice guy and very complementary of the band. We played for a half hour or so, then they fed everyone. Afterwards, we played for another hour or so, and go the folks singing along."

We ended promptly at 3, quickly got the sound system broken down (in seven minutes!) and into Bub's vehicle so he could scoot right out of there and head off for the airport to fly back to Florida for a couple more weeks.

May 7, 2005: Flood Lite -- this time Joe, Dave and Charlie -- played Heritage Farm and Village Museum's spring festival. Dave got there early and had staked out a good place for our picking on the porch. Joe arrived a bit later and we jumped into it. "We played pretty much straight through 'til 3," Charlie later wrote his mom, "having a pretty time, just the three of us, like the old days.”

May 14, 2005: The "jugband breakfast" at the 2005 Coon-Sanders trad-jazz gathering was one of "the best ever," Charlie recorded in a emailed note to his mom, despite some unusual difficulties. This was the band's sixth appearance at the annual gathering and "the first time without Joe. Also, Chuck, who sat in with us, was sick as a dog -- he's had something since last Tuesday and Friday night hadn't slept a wink. Still, he rocked on stage. Everyone did, in fact. I was especially pleased with how young Sam really stepped up with him harmonica and filled the void left by Joe's absence.”

June 5, 2005: The Flood went a little Hollywood, entertaining guests at Huntington’s Appalachian Film Festival, playing at a party at a riverfront barge restaurant called Holdersby’s Landing. It already had been a busy day for the boys; earlier in the day the group played a gig at the Cabell County Public Library, then grabbed a bite to eat before heading down to the Ohio River for the evening show, rocking with the filmmakers and aspiring filmmakers with an eclectic mix of tunes.

film

A highlight of the evening was schmoozing with actor Ray McKinnon, who was at the festival to introduce his new film, “Chrystal,” which had a featured spot at the week’s event, showing on the big screen at the Keith Albee Theater during the festival. After The Flood’s set, Charlie, Chuck and Joe hung rayaround to chat with the artists attending. Getting a few minutes outside the restaurant to chat with McKinnon, Charlie was especially eager to tell him how much the guys enjoyed the singing in the film by its star, Lisa Blount, who also was McKinnon’s wife of seven years. Ray said that Lisa’s music and her Arkansas family stories inspired much of the beautiful film and that he appreciated our kind words.

A snippet of the film -- which was written and directed by McKinnon -- is at right, with Lisa just killing it on the old southern Appalachian tune, “Red Rockin’ Chair.”

This story has a sad coda: Just five years after the film’s debut, Lisa died at her and Ray’s Little Rock home. Her mother, who found Lisa’s body, said the actress suffered from idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), in which low levels of platelets keep blood from clotting and lead to bleeding and bruising. Lisa was 53.

June 25, 2005: The Flood was invited to Charleston to be part of the first annual FestivALL. This inaugural three-day event celebrated regional music with more than 120 performances and exhibits all around the capital city. Our venue was a covered stage outside on Slack Plaza for a 40-minute show -- and 20 seconds of fame on WVAH-TV:

 

June 11, 2005: The band played a surprise birthday party for Sam. "We all gathered at Sam's parents' place at 4:30 or so and got everything set up," Charlie told his mom in an emaily, "and then Joan, telling him they needed to go there for dinner, directed him there about 5:30, where about 50 people were waiting for him, screaming 'Surprise'! Most of the members of the band where there -- everybody but Doug -- and played for about an hour, with Sam sitting in -- Joan snuck his harps there too, so he could sit in.”

June 26, 2005: The band played at two venues in Beckley, first the courthouse and then at Tamarack, "a long, busy, hot, but fun Sunday on the road," Charlie said to his mom in an email later. "A little before 9, Sam arrived to ride with us to Beckley. A short time later, Chuck and Phyllis pulled up and we piled in for the two-hour drive east. We got to downtown Beckley a little after 11 and got set up in a neat little bandstand/gazebo near the Raleigh County courthouse and did our sound check. We were booked there to play as part of a city's celebration of 'The Great Race,' a cross-country race of antique cars, from Washington D.C. to Washington state. Kind of a neat thing -- there are more than a hundred cars in the event, ranging from 1915 Tin Lizzies to 1960s-era Mustangs. ... We enjoyed looking at the cars before and after we played. We had a nice set at the bandstand for an hour, then broke down the system and headed up the hill to Tamarack for our second soundcheck of the day in the auditorium of the crafts. We've played there four or five times before and really like the place. The show went real well -- good responsive crowd. Afterwards, we had dinner at Tamarack -- the band paid for everyone's meal -- and then headed back, getting home around 6.”

July 23 2005: The band played an anniversary party at Our Lady of Fatima church. "It was pretty big deal," Charlie told his mom in an email. "About 60 folks came from all around the country for a 25th wedding anniversary party. We played some background music while the folks were arriving then Bub put on a huge feed for everyone. After that, we played a set from 8 to 8:45, took a break and then came back for another set from 9 to 9:30 or so, then called it an evening. It was a hard job -- everyone was tired from the heat, for the band acquitted itself well and got paid well.”

July 26, 2005: The Flood met its soul-sister-cum-den-mother when the irrepressible Rose Marie Riter hired the band to play at her 70th birthday party.

We knew we were in for something different when she told us the venue for the afternoon's do: The Lawrence CountyAirpark, near Chesapeake, Ohio, where Rose intended to celebrate her seven decades by leaping from an airplane. She toldus arrive early and play before the jump, in case, beause .... "Well, you know, if things don't go well, at least the folks would have heard the music and eaten."

The food for the party was catered by Hillbilly Hot Dogs. Then, she added, if she survived the leap, there would be more food and champagne. The jump did go well, as reported by the local TV reporters that evening and the next morning in the clip at the left.

Rose Riter continues to be a warm and wonderful presence in our lives, a frequent listener at the weekly rehearsals (often feeding the band cookies and cake), and it was only natural that we dedicated our 4th CD, the 2011 "Wade in the Water" disc, to her. And of course, Rose has brought many other people into the Flood circle, as illustrated in Tim Irr's 2009 feature on the band.

STORIES:

-- Remembering How We Met Miz Rose. Nine years after our introduction to Rose Riter, we talk about that original sky-diving birthday party.

 

Dave-1978Sept. 7, 2005: It was 15 days after Hurricane Katrina began devastating New Orleans, and The 1937 Flood joined other local musicians in a benefit concert at Pullman Square that would raise more than $16,000 in disaster relief.

Dave Ball, a retired firefighter who played bass with The Flood at the time, organized the show, the first of a numberof Katrina fund-raisers to be held in the Tri-State Area in the months to come. Along with The Flood, the Pullman Square show featured Backyard Dixie Jazz Stompers and Big Rock and The Candy Ass Mountain Boys, among others.

Speaking with The Herald-Dispatch on the morning of the benefit, Dixielander Dale Jones said what was in the hearts and minds of many of the musicians that Wednesday; "The music that comes out of that place is in my heart,” Dale told writer Dave Lavender. “I have been playing this music for more than 20 years now and it is heartbreaking to see all of the disasters in all of the states along the Gulf. The best we can do from far away is help out. This is just a natural for us."

Sept. 10, 2005: The band played the Hilltop Festival at Huntington Museum of Art during the afternoon and then the Fraley Festival at Carter Caves, Ky., in the evening. In advance of the Fraley Festival, incidentally, The Flood got a lot of facetime in Dave Lavender's story for The Herald-Dispatch, seen here.

Sept. 21, 2005: Early in the week, Charlie got a phone call from a stranger, a man who identified himself as “Ed,” said he he was from Ohio, was staying at the Ramada Inn here, was in town on business. He said he played a little fiddle, that he had Ed Strelauheard about The Flood’s weekly jam sessions and wondered if he could stop by. In the course of the phone conversation, he dropped Joe Dobbs’ name, which of course in Flood circles was as good as “Open Sesame!” so of course, Charlie then said, “Sure!” and gave him directions to the Bowen house.

That Wednesday night Ed Strelau arrives at the door promptly at 7 with a big bag of pork rinds as an offering for the assembled pickers. He was introduced all around the circle — everyone but Joe had already arrived — and we learned that for nearly 40 years Ed had been an engineer with Turner Construction of Cincinnati and that he would be in town at least through the end of the year to oversee the work on a major construction project at Cabell-Huntington Hospital. We also learned that he played regular with a band in Cincinnati that specialized in English country dance music. As we kicked into the first tunes, Ed grabbed a seat near the front, and we were playing loudly when Joe slipped in the back own and headed to the adjoining room to unpack his fiddle.

“Hey, Joe,” Charlie called out between tunes, “your friend Ed Strelau is here!”

“Who?” Joe called back.

From around the room, eyes fell on Ed, who seemed equally confused. “Oh,” Ed said finally, “I didn’t mean to say I KNOW Joe, only I heard him on the radio!”

Well, quickly more introductions were exchanged, Joe had a pork rind or two and all was well. At one point, Joe even passed his fiddle to Ed, who hadn’t brought one to this first session, but promised to come appropriately armed in future weeks.

And that he did. In fact, Ed Strelau was a faithful player at the weekly jams for the next four months, not only contributing tunes but also occasionally taking pictures of the group. Here’s a little gallery of Ed Strelau photos from the period, including shots he got during a Flood recording session at Joe’s Fret ’n Fiddle “bunker” studio.

Our last jam with Ed came in early 2006, which Charlie described in a Jan. 17 email to his mom. “What a great jam session we had last night. It was a special one, 'cuz it was the last visit by Ed, the Cincinnati fiddler who's been a regular here for months now. As I mentioned, I think, Ed's an engineer who's been in town for a project that's now wrapping up. He brought his family here for a visit this week -- they went skiing and hiking in the mountains over the past few days and he wanted to wrap it up here with the jam session. So I was hoping the guys would come through for him and they really did. Bub delayed his trip to Florida by a day so he could be here and Joe, who had an emcee job earlier in the evening, came about 10 last night to be here for the last hour or so. We also has some listeners. Besides Ed's wife and son, we had Bill and Nancy Meadows and Tom and Sharon Pressman. It was a late night -- midnight before we got all those folks outa here! Good times.”

Sept. 27, 2005: The last time that The Flood got to play on the glorious Delta Queen steamboat was absolutely the best time. And those great memories were all possible by our good friend singer/pianist Phyllis Dale.
Phyllis, the last the red-hot mamas, had been a featured entertainer on the DQ for a decade, and when she retired from the river, she launched a new career as a premiere travel agent, based in Florida. In early 2005, she began planning a special steamboaters reunion cruise for autumn on the Ohio River and from the start, she wanted The Flood to be part of it.
DQ-2005By then, the band had played a number of times on the steamer. We often met the boat when she docked for the day in Huntington, picked on the riverbank with our sad faces hanging out until someone in the crew took pity on us and invited us aboard to entertain the passengers. Following that strategy, we’d played on the decks, in the forward cabin lounge, up in the legendary Texas Lounge, but we’d never been invited to be the featured evening after-dinner entertainment in the beautiful Orleans Room.

Until now. Phyllis was changing the story by inviting the boys aboard as one of the featured acts during her week-long cruise.
The boat docked that day in neighboring Ashland, Ky., and the band arrived at 3:30 for the soundcheck, then stayed on board for dinner before the show. Our dear old friend Nancy McClellan came down to hear the afternoon calliope concert, ran into The Flood contingent and we whisked her aboard too. (Security was pretty tight in the aftermath of 9/11, Pamela, our manager, got prior permission for her, so her name was in the computer, along with all the band members.

Showtime was 9 p.m., and what a show it was! We handed out kazoos to everybody onboard before we even started and everybody was in a good mood. In fact, people started humming and hooting on their kazoos before the show started. (What a racket! “Tiger Rag” on one side of the room, elephant noises on the other… The cruise directors, Jazzou Jones and Mike Gentry, looked at each other in horror and Jazzou aded, “How do we gt them to stop?” Charlie was laughing, but he suggested Jazz go out and announce that “because of Homeland Security regulars, kazoos must be extinguished when the boat is not moving.” That worked.)

The 45-minute show itself was a hoot. Throughout the cruise, long-time passengers came up to Pamela or Charlie to say that in the dozens of times they’d sailed on the DQ, they’d never seen the crowd in the Orleans Room react as enthusiastically. A particularly fond memory of the night was Charlie’s conversation with one passenger said that all the guys looked like real characters, but that the conservatively dressed banjo player on the end seemed out of place. “Oh,” Charlie said, “that’s Chuck. He’s our probation officer…”

We were looking forward to many more years ago partying with the DQ, but sadly, in less than two years after that evening, the Majestic America Line announced that the Delta Queen would cease operation, forced to retire from service when her Congressional Exemption from the 1966 Safety at Sea act expired.

Delta BubOct. 9, 2005: The ban was hired to travel to Charleton to play for a Masonic gathering in Charleston. "We all headed over to Bub where we were taking his new camper -- we call it The Delta Bub -- to the show," Charlie noted in his email to his mom. "Everyone can ride in comfort with all the instruments and the sound system. The band pays for the gas, so it works out well. Dave, Bub, Yvonne and I left about 4, stopping along the way to pick up Joe and Doug. Sam met us there and we set up the system at the downtown Marriot, getting set and doing a quick sound check before clearing out at 6:30. We ate dinner in the hotel dining room, the band paying for the meals, then headed back upstairs for the show. ... We played a good, lively set, got a very warm reception from the audience, with a lot of them coming up afterwards to chat with us. Nice.”

Nov. 11, 2005: For most of its long life, The Flood has been a rather large band (safety in numbers and all that…), and while it’s cool to have all the musical options that a plus-size aggregation offers, size also sometimes presents problems. The logistics of getting a half dozen folks and their instruments on stage and properly miked has always Flood Litebeen a challenge at our live shows. The band also routinely loses potential paying gigs to less expensive trios and duos. And, oh, the scheduling! Just talk to our long-suffering manager Pamela Bowen about the nightmares of trying to arrange appearances for the band when you have juggle so many individual calendars. So it’s only natural that over the years The Flood has also supported break-out ensembles for special occasions, such as background music for parties. We even gave these mini-Floods their own names. Whenever four Floodsters gather, it is Flood Plain, but more frequently it is downsized down to a trio as Flood Lite.

Throughout much of the 2000s and early 2010s, Flood Lite was usually Joe on fiddle, Doug on bass and Charlie on guitar and vocals, as it was in these recordings ("Up a Lazy River" and "Somebody Stole My Gal") Nov. 11, 2005, when the threesome played eating-drinking-schmoozing music for a swell party in Huntington’s southern hills.

Dec. 24, 2005: We threw a surprise Christmas Eve party -- complete with Floodsters in Santa hats -- for the Nancyband's Mother Superior, Nancy McClellan. Some background: After Harvey, Nancy's husband of 60 years, passed away in 2004, Nancy began spending Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with Charlie and Pamela Bowen. Over the next decade, the tradition evolved into what we called "Nancymas," and before Nancy died in 2013, Rose Riter was welcomed into the annual festivities. That year, Christmas Eve 2005, was the First Nancymas. We had all known that Nancy was sad heading into that holiday season -- it had been her first full year without Harvey -- and it was Joe who suggested The Flood do something special for her. So, that Saturday evening, Nancy arrived at the Bowens' house about 6 for what she fully expected would be just a quiet dinner. And it was. But then about 7:30, the musicians began arriving. And along with the band came friends from the neighborhood and from as far away as California and Texas. All told about a dozen folks gathered around the table, playing music, talking and joking, eating and telling stories for hours. Later, around midnight after everyone had gone home and Nancy was heading upstairs to bed, she stopped on the landing, grinned and said, "Best Christmas present I could possibly have!"

 

STORIES:

-- Santa Among the Cajuns. Joe remembers motorcycling in Cajun Country in the weeks after Christmas. "Sometimes you forget what you look like...." he said.

 

2006

fretJan. 11, 2006: The Flood gathered to record a few tunes in "The Bunker," which is what Joe Dobbs called the new studio he had just opened in his Fret 'n Fiddle music store in St. Albans, WV. At the time, we thought this might lay the groundwork for a new Flood album, a followup to CD #3, "I'd Rather Be Flooded, which we recorded a few years earlier.

It didn't work out that way -- The Flood was still in a bit of a transition at the time -- but it was, nonetheless, a memorable night, due in no small part to the fact that Cincinnati fiddler/photograph Ed Strelau came along for the ride and took these great pictures. We also got a few good tracks from the session, including this one ("Jelly Roll Baker," Jan. 11, 2006) , which ultimately found its way to The Flood self-produced bootleg album, "Hip Boots."

Feb. 1, 2006: We don’t know why, but few people ever come to their first Flood rehearsal unaccompanied. Most come at the suggestion, nvitation or dare of a friend or acquaintance who already has been initiated into the wilds and weirdness of Floodishness. That was certainly the case for our dear friend Rose Marie Rose and NancyRiter, who was on the arm of her friend Nancy Meadows when she attended her first Flood jam session on this date.

Now, Nancy and her husband, famed potter Bill Meadows, had been Flood regulars for four years by then. In fact, it was Nancy(working at the time with Rose at the gift shop of the Huntington Museum of Art) who had been instrumental in booking the band the previous summer to play at Rose’s 70th birthday party when the newly minted septuagenarian celebrated by skydiving out of a plane at the Lawrence County Airpark. Oddly enough, while Rose had been bold enough to hurl herself out of an airplane in front of friends and family that hot afternoon, she had been too shy to show up at a Flood jam until Nancy shamed her in it. But then, to our everlasting joy, after her first outing, she became a regular. And then, of course, Rose would carry on the tradition, regularly bringing new friends to the Flood circle, good people from Norman and Shirley Davis to Jacob Scarr and his wonderful family.

Feb. 10, 2006: On the eve of a Saturday night FOOTMAD concert in Charleston -- in which The Flood would share the bill with the good folks of Stewed Mulligan -- WV Public Radio's “Music from the Mountains” aired a preview, an hour of fretful frivolity with Joe, Dave, Charlie, Doug, Sam, Bub and Michelle. It was a full hour of live music, stories and smart-assery; here's an extended excerpt ("Didn't He Ramble," "Dead Cat on the Line," "Walking After Midnight" and "Blue Moon," "Banks of the Old Guyan," St. Anne's Reel," Feb. 10, 2006) of the fun and foolishness, “live from Studio B,” as Joe used to say.

STORIES:

-- The Website. On the band's 2006 appearance on "Music from the Mountains," Joe asked Charlie to talked about the merchandise available on The Flood's website. The discussion even led to a premium service Sam night offer.

-- Calling All Roadkill. We remember great Summer '05 shows, especially the Roadkill Cookoff in Marlinton, WV.

Feb. 11, 2006: In 2006, Michelle Lewis (Michelle Walker in those days) was not yet a full-fledged member of the band. For three years, she had performed with us as a featured artist, the guest vocal or, as Joe lovingly called her, “Da Chick Singer.” But her Michelle, Dougrole with The Flood was rapidly evolving; the more she sang with us, the more we wanted her to sing with us and, through her sharp musical instinct and her formal vocal training, Michelle was starting to create tasty harmonies in Flood standards.

And nothing made clearer Michelle’s ever-growing importance to all things Floodish than one particular performance on this snowy Saturday night in Charleston. We were playing a FOOTMAD concert, sharing the bill with another great band, Stewed Mulligan.

It had been a fun evening of jug band songs and general silliness, blues and fiddle tunes and old-time string band music and the like, so when Michelle started the classic 1940s jazz standard “Since I Fell For You”, a hush fell over the audience. In seconds, though, people were humming along, then they cheered so much for Doug's sweet mandolin solo that he had to take a second chorus. Finally, by the time Michelle got to the end of the number, people were on the feet to cheer her. What a sweet memory. Here’s the tune, "Since I Fell For You," Feb. 11, 2006, which was later incorporated in our “Hip Boots” CD. In fact, it was the live performance of that particular tune that inspired us to put "Hip Boots" together.

STORIES:

-- Exploiting the Kazoo Envy. Recognizing the obvious admiration that the concert audience had for all things kazoo, we offered a hummer of a group participation number.

Feb. 21, 2006: Flood Lite played another of its annual afternoon shows at West Virginia Tech at Montgomery; haiku: “Had a nice day on the road with Doug," Charlie told his mom in an email. "It was a pretty day -- sunny and warming up. We got to the little mountain valley town about 1, in time for a quick sandwich at Gino's before heading on over to the college and meeting up with Joe at the classroom where the Appalachian Studies course met. It's a very different gig -- Joe talks as much as plays -- so in a little over an hour, we ended up playing maybe 10 tunes, mostly fiddle tunes."

Feb. 22, 2006: We began searching through The Flood's archives for material that would eventually come together as the band's first and only bootleg album. Everybody's mother always said (usually with a pretty heavy sigh), if you want something Done Right, do it yourself. Well, in our case, the real truth is that after decades of making music, we just got tired of waiting for Hip Bootssomeone else to produce The 1937 Flood bootleg album, and (with a pretty heavy sigh) we decided that if it was going to happen, it looked like that we would have to make it so. The result was "Hip Boots: The Flooded Basement Tapes," a collection of nearly two dozen cuts from various drop-in points during the first three decades of the band's foggy history. In the finest tradition of bootlegs, the recording quality on this disc isn't always the greatest. These field recordings were made on the fly at coffeehouses and parties, clubs and concerts and in people's living rooms, using whatever equipment was available, from cheap cassette recorders to reel-to-reel machines that were pretty nice for the day to (later still) digital recorders of all stripes. Setting aside the sometimes suckiness of the recording quality, the tracks do capture the spirit and madness that brought The 1937 Flood into being in the first place and has kept it together today. The disc continues to be popular with diehard Flood fans. Meanwhile, here's DougReynoldsa track from the Hip Boots, one of the earlier Flood recordings in existence. It features RogerSamples and Dave Peyton doing The Eagles' "Peaceful Easy Feeling," with Bill Hoke adding some tasty dobro licks!

April 21, 2006: The band was hired to play a political rally at Heritage Farm Village and Museum for Doug Reynolds, who was running for the state House of Delegates from a neighboring district. Doug and his wife had come by a jam session a few weeks ago and loved the sound, so he wanted us there to kick off his campaign. As Charlie told his mom in a later email, "It was a huge turnout -- several hundred people -- despite the gray, damp weather. We set up the band on the edge of the tent where the food was going to be served -- a great location, because we were able to play for the folks as they were eating. We did an especially long first set, then took a break and got something to eat while the politicians were talking." Gov. Joe Manchin attended and we gave him a CD. After the talks, we played another shorter set, then packed it up for the evening, just before the big rains came.

2006-FloodLiteApril 28, 2006: Flood Lite plays Ohio River Festival of Books at the Huntington Civic Arena. We got set up at a little before 7:30 and played from about 8 to 9, doing background music.

April 29, 2006: Joe and Charlie played at Publisher Place's gathering at Rocco's in the old Frederick Hotel in downtown Huntington, background music for the reception.

May 6, 2006: Flood Lite -- this time David, Michelle and Charlie -- played the annual spring festival at Heritage Farm and Village Museum, playing from 10 until noon.

May 12, 2006: The band's weather bad luck -- hey, the name IS "The Flood," after all -- continued at the group's latest gig at the Cabell County Public Library. This was the fourth time in five years that we'd played in the library's "music on the plaza," and yet we had never played outside on the plaza. Every time rain made us move inside. And that continued this time as well. this series and we've *never* played out front. It's always been raining and we've always been moved inside. But he was fine. We had standing room only in the library's front room by the entrance. "Very enthusiastic bunch of Floodsters," Charlie told his mom in an email later. "Very good times.”

May 17, 2006: Four months after the first session, The Flood gathered again at Joe Dobbs' recording studio called "The Bunker" to record some more tunes for what the guys hopes would be a new album to follow up CD #3, "I'd Rather Be Flooded, which we recorded a few years earlier. Buddy Griffin, who engineered our first album, was that the controls. Ultimately the two "Bunker" sessions came to naught and after another abortive recording effort with Bo Sweeney in 2007, it would be another five years before ablum #4, Wade in the Water, would finally come out. Meanwhile, here's a tune from the May 2006 Bunker session, "I'll Fly Away," May 17, 2006.

May 20, 2006: For their 7th appearance at the breakfast session of the Coons-Sanders Nighthawks Reunion Bash, the band was pleased to have their steamboatin' friend Phyllis Dale in attendance. The session was "the best yet!" Charlie said in his email to his mom later. "Had the place packed, with our friend Phyllis in the front row, the crowd was quiet and listened to every note, laughed at the jokes and gave us a long standing ovation at the end. All the guys were in fine form and it was just a great, high-energy way to start the day."

May 24, 2006: Fiddler Buddy Griffin and singer Sallie Sublette came with Joe to jam with the band, with more than 20 folks in the house.

May 26, 2006: For the first time in five years, The Flood was invited to play the Vandalia Gathering at the state capitol in Charleston. "It was a nasty evening," Charlie later told his mom in an email, " lotsa rain, but the show was indoors at the Cultural Center, so the weather was not a problem. We reached the city at 6:30 and got ourselves all registered and checked in. Then we waited and waited. The Green Room, set up backstage of the center, was filled with food and light drinks, so we snacked and picked a little music and waited and waited. It was 10 before we got our 20 minutes on stage.

2006-vandalia

It went very well. The sound crew was perfect -- they really know their room. And the crowd -- the room was packed -- seemed to enjoy it. It was 11 before we could get on the road for home.”

July 8, 2006: The band played a private picnic for the Vital law firm at a venue in the hills of Ohio, up behind Chesapeake. "The farm where we were to play was located about 10 minutes from here," Charlie wrote his mom later, "but you'd never know from the looks of it that were were so close to town -- it was set in a beautiful valley, surrounded by woods. Fun place to be. Bub had already been there and set up the sound system under a neat little shelter, a perfect improvised bandstand. We grabbed a little food, then about 6:30 did a quick sound check and launched into our show. We did two 45-minute sets. Everyone was in very good form and just rocked and the folks seemed to have a good time.

July 9, 2006: The guys traveled to Beckley, WV, to play another Sunday afternoon concert at Tamarack.Accompanied by old friend Nancy McClellan, the Bowens arrived about 11:30 and went immediately to lunch. "The timing was great," Charlie told his mom in an email, "because a half hour 2006-tamaracklater when we were seated and eating with Joe and Edwina, who were already there, the line grew to all the way down the hall, as the after-church crowd arrived. At 1, all the Floodsters arrived at the theater for the sound check. This was our sixth time to play there, so we know the stage and the sound guys well and the sound check went quickly -- took only about 15 or 20 minutes. Then we adjourned to the green room backstage, while Pamela and the rest of the Flood's ladies shopped a bit. The show itself went very well -- probably our best one yet at Tamarack. The set list -- heavy on West Virginia-oriented tunes -- really resonated with the crowd and everyone in the band was "on" so we had a good time too.”

July 22, 2006: The band was hired to play at Huntington's Sacred Heart Catholic church, a reception for the church's new priest, Eric Hill, who also turned out to be a picker. We had him sitting in with us on a few tunes, and a week later he jammed with us at the Bowen house. "t was funny," Charlie told his mom in a later email. "Bub had asked me earlier if I minded if the priset dropped by and I said sure, any time. Eric later told Bub he'd love to, but only if we thought his presence wouldn't change the way we behaved. I loved about that, and told Bub we're that band that played 'Somebody Stole My Gal' to W.Va. Gov. Bob Wise after it was made public that he had had an affair in the governor's mansion, once had a bride playing kazoo with us on 'Can't Get That Stuff No More' at her reception and play 'Hava Nagila' on banjo and harmonica at a Jewish wedding. No, the Flood pretty much unaffected by who's in the room. So he showed up in his collar and everything and seemed to have a really good time and everybody else seemed to enjoy having him here. The band rocked for three hours and had a great time.”

Aug. 2, 2006: Long-time Flood fan JoAnn McCoy attends her first weekly jam session. Also on hand were Bill and Nancy Meadows and Rose Riter.

Aug. 30, 2006: The trio Sheldon Road -- featuring Floodsters-to-be Randy Hamilton and Paul Martin -- jammed with the band. “It was an especially fine evening," Charlie told his mom in a later email, "with lots of pickers here. The whole band made it -- Sam and Joe, Bub and Doug, Dave and me -- and we had lots of visitors. For starters, Joe arrived with Lindsey, a guitar-picking friend from Australia who visits our area every other year or so. Then Bub's friend, Greg Fuller, who's the local fire chief, actually, dropped in to play. And the guys of Shelton Road came and sat in. These guys have wonderful vocal harmony -- and they're very nice guys too. Among the listeners were Tom and Sharen Pressman and Nancy McClellan and her neighbor Joyce Newsom from Ashland.”

Sept. 6, 2006: Singer-songwriter Rob McNurlin jams with the band the first time.

Sept. 8, 2006: The group played its annual mini-set at Carter Caves' Fraley Festival in Kentucky, jamming for a few hours in the parking lot, before playing their three tunes on stage and heading home.

Sept. 20,2006: As a surprise for our new fan Rose Marie Riter, the band offered a brief serenade of upbeat Flood songs at HealthSouth where Rose was recuperating from a serious car wreck.

2006, playing for Rose

"The visit was choreographed by our mutual friend, Donnel and her husband Joe Horns, who've been with Rose almost every day," Charlie wrote hi mom later. "The Horns worked it out with the staff of the hospital so that we could use the dining room area of the place. They also saw to it that Rose had a particularly large group of visitors that evening, include a bunch of Flood fans. We got there right at 7 and Rose spied us through the window of her room as we came passed waving and shouting at her. They got her into her wheelchair and she was all smiles and laughter when they got her to the hall. We quickly set up and launched into first of a half dozen tunes, all up-tempo and funny. It was great success and a real memory for all of us."

Sept. 30, 2006: The band was hire to play a "goat roast, in Ashland, Ky, "a rough gig," Charlie said his mom's email the next day. "We did okay and the crowd seemed to like it, but boy, it wasn't easy. The weather forecast wasfor hard rain, but that was a little unbelievable earlier in the day, after the skies cleared so nicely and it was a beautiful, sunny and breezy afternoon. However, as we loaded up in Bub's RV and headed to Ashland, things started getting grayer and grayer and by the time we got everything set up to play, it was under and very dark sky. And then, just as we were launching into the opening tune of our first set, the sky just opened up. Hard, cold rain that plagued us all evening. Now, Joe and Bonnie Johnson, our hosts, had provided three or four good tents for us and the guests, and we were able to crowd under them and keep ourselves, our instruments and the sound equipment relatively dry. Still, it was anything but a pleasant evening. But everyone stayed in good spirits and the band really did well, especially under such adverse circumstances. And Joe and Bonnie's guests -- many of whom came from far outa town (Florida, California, Virginia, etc.) really had a good time. We played until 8, doing two sets, with a break in between to eat -- very good food -- and visit with the folks.”

Oct. 1, 2006: The band was hired to play for an engagement party at Bill and Nancy's Meadows' "river house" in Crown City, Ohio. “About 1, Bub, Joe and Dave and Susie all arrive and, with Pamela and I, we piled into the Delta Bub RV for the trip across the river," Charlie told his mom in an email. "We did background music, sitting in the corner of the deck. Very easy gig, which was good, beause we were all pretty still tired from the evening before the Rain Roast. We played from 2 to 4:30 or so, with a break for food. The highlight of the afternoon was when we stepped inside to play a half dozen tunes for Nancy's 90-year-old, wheelchair-bound mother, who asked if we knew any tunes from the 1930s.... heheh... yeah, a few!"

Oct. 20, 2006: At Huntington's Java Joint coffeehouse, across from the Marshall University campus, the group was hired to play for the Birke Symposium, "a warm, receptive crowd," Charlie noted in an email to his mom. "And before the end of the first set, Michelle, the Chick Singer, arrived from Charleston so that we could feature her in the second set, which also went well."Bob McCoy

Nov. 8, 2006: Flood fan Bob McCoy attended his first weekly jam. “Wow, what a great jam session we had last night," Charlie told his mom in an email. "I can't believe we played That Long. See, the old clock on the mantel -- the one I can see from the library where we play -- is suddenly not working anymore, so I didn't know how long we had been playing until... oooo! my fingers hurt ... and I discovered it had been Four Hours! We had a great turnout -- all the guys showed up. And we had some new listeners. Our old friend, JoAnn McCoy (she was JoAnn Patton when we all went to school together back in the mid-'60s) came with her new husband, Bob, and they stayed the entire evening.”

Dec. 1, 2006: Flood Lite -- this time, Doug, Bub and Charlie -- played at the funeral Bub's nephew, Chris, the 27-year-old son of Bub's sister, Donna, a huge Flood supporter over the years "and we want to show her some love in return," Charlie told his mom in an email. "For our part, the Flood Lite trio played two numbers -- a vocal version of a love song called "Our Dear Companion" (with lyrics I tweaked for the occasion) and, as folks were leaving at the end of the ceremony, an instrumental on which Doug played a beautiful fiddle part.”

Dec. 19, 2006: The last Flood get-together before Christmas 2006 was truly standing room only, with 35 people at the Bowen house! In those days, when the weekly gatherings were public jam sessions rather than rehearsals, we never knew how many were going to show up. Sometimes it was just the band and one or two fans. This time there were 10 musicians, including banjo master Chuck Romine, who also brought his new tuba, which sounded remarkably good with the acoustic stringed instruments.

The session also marked the first appearance of a young man who would play a key role in Flood history going forward. Here's Pamela's memory of the evening: “As I was weaving my way through the crowd in the living room, a woman I didn’t know thanked me for letting her leave her sons here while she went shopping. I looked around anxiously for small children, but found two teen-agers who had helped themselves to some root beer and were awestruck by the musicians. … It was neat watching them react to what the band was playing.”

Chuck-Jacob

Pamela didn't know it then, but the two youngsters were Jacob Scarr and his younger brother, Daniel, who were in the Sunday school class of Flood fan Tom Pressman. It was Tom who recommended that their mom, P.J. Scarr, bring the boys by to hear the band. It was a familiar neighborhood; The Scarr lads also knew the Bowens' next-door neighbor, Bo Sweeney, who was in the same law firm as their dad, Tom Scarr, and was giving them drum lessons.

Jacob would continue to attended the weekly jams, often brought by other mutual friend, Rose Riter, but it would be almost year before we learned that the young man was an excellent guitar player, sitting in with us for the first time in October 2007. He'd later join the band as history's youngest Floodster, playing with us until he left for college in Colorado in the fall of 2011. He went out with a bang, though, staying up with us to help record our "Wade in the Water" CD before flying out of Huntington the next day.Steve

Meanwhile, here's a fun footnote: This particular evening had a song written about it. Among the three dozen holiday celebratrants in the room that night was an old friend, the late Steve 21006masEschleman. The multi-talented Steve -- writer, broadcaster, guitarist, singer -- was struck for the diversity of cultures on hand that evening. Gathered in one room in a South Side Huntington home were Christians and Jews, a Buddhist, a Hindu and a Muslim, New Agers and secularists. Deciding that if there ever was a case for saying "happy holidays" rather than "merry Christmas," this was the place and time. In the days that followed, Steve wrote, "That's Why I Say 'Happy Holidays," a tune that continued to pop up at Flood gathering for many Decembers to come. For instance, here's a rendition by David Ball a few years later! ("That Why I Say 'Happy Holidays'," Dec. 3, 2008). That tune would be among a dozen included in the band's "La Flood Navidad" Christmas playlist on Radio Floodango in 2021.

Dec. 24, 2006: Nancy McClellan spent the night and Christmas morning with the Bowens. For the Christmas Eve music, we were joined by three couples, David and Susie Peyton, Dave and Yvonne Ball, and Bill and Nancy Meadows.

Dec. 27, 2006: At a jam session, Doug reported that he needed major surgery to have blockages in his carotid arteries removed. He would travel to Detroit's Henry Ford Neurosurgery for the procedure. He'd be away from the jam sessions for about a month.

Dec. 31, 2006: David and Charlie jam at Nancy McClellan’s New Year’s Eve party, "quite a crowd there already and Dave and I jumped in to pick for the next three hours or so," Charlie told his mom later.

2007

RogerJan. 3, 2007: Rog Samples jammed with the band for the first time in nearly three years, and "I think hearing those old bash tunes from 25 and 30 years ago really made him homesick, both for the area AND for the music," Charlie told his mom in an email the next day.

"And what good music it WAS last night," he added. "About 7, the folks started arriving for the jam session and we started picking. It was a good, lively session for the next four hours -- lots of good music, harmony, laughs, stories and memories. Good times! And we had a houseful -- about a dozen or so.”

Charlie said in his email that he didn't think Roger had played that much music in years, and he "talked a lot about the players, especially Doug, who he couldn't say enough good about.Later that afternoon, long after Rog had gone home, I called Doug to tell him about the great things Rog said about his playing; I think that made his day."

Jan. 24, 2007: The Family Flood partied at Tom and Sharon Pressman's house, "a nice, warm little group of eaters, pickers and listeners," Charlie told his mom in an email. "Our from Ed the Cincinnati fiddler arrived about 6 and he, Pamela and I drove directly there. Tom had built a nice, cozy fire and set out fruit, nuts and cheese to snack on. Miz Rose was already there and we had great conversation. In a bit, Sam arrived with the entire family -- wife Joan and three kids -- and we were brought to the dinner table. Afterwards, we unpacked the instruments and played in front of the fire, kicking into high a bit later when Joe arrived. And we played until 10:45. Fun times.”

Jan. 31, 2007: Recovering from his neurosurgery, Doug returned to the jam session. "He called late this morning from Cincinnati (Florence, Ky., actually) where he and Donna were heading home from their daughter's house," Charlie told his mom later. "The doctor's visit in Detroit had gone well. The doctors there were considerably more optimistic about his condition than the ones here. Yes, there is rather considerable blockage of his carotid arteries, but they were not in the panic that the local doctors were, saying they wanted to try some other treatment before considering the bypass surgery. They kept him there a few days and run a number of tests, and now want him back next week for more. He was in very good humor and was looking forward to getting back to music. Everyone was so happy to see him last night and the music really reflected it. We played from 8 to 11, and had a ball."

Feb. 16, 2007: It was cold outside, but hot inside the downtown Huntington Plaza Hotel as The Flood played for a dinner party celebrating the opening of Huntington's Hospitality House. We were invited to the do by old friend, the late Tom Miller, whom Michelle even persuaded to get on stage and sing with her. It was an evening fun, dancing, stories and nearly five hours of hot music.

Hospitality House

Feb. 21, 2007: The band took the weekly jam session on the road to Bill and Nancy Meadows' house for a little special evening As Charlie told his mom in an email afterwards. "Our friend, Bill Meadows, the potter -- he and his wife, Nancy, are huge Flood fans and at many of the practices -- recently had heart bypass surgery and is recuperating at home. At last Sunday's rehearsal before the gig, the guys were asking about Bill and wondering if we should go over and pick a few tunes for him and Nancy to cheer him up. Well, Pamela hopped right on that and checked in with Nancy and she said Bill would love that. In fact, he'd love it if we came for the entire evening."

March 5, 2007: Doug and Charlie drove to Mt. Sterling, Ky., for a Monday afternoon-evening jam with Rog Samples. It was cold and windy, but a beautifully sunny day for the drive. "Rog and Tammy greeted us at the door when we arrived," Charlie later told his mom in an email, "and, after a tour their home (it was the first we'd seen it), we unpacked the instruments and launched into two hours of picking. It was apparent from the get-go that Rog hadn't been playing much and was hanging back a bit, but as the afternoon went on, he was jumping in more and more. It was fun to watch and listen to it happen.

"And of course, Doug was already in great form. In preparation for the trip, I'd been thinking back to tunes that Rog and I used to do together ... oh, what? 25 years ago?! ... and I pulled them out one after another. It was amazing how quickly we fell into the same same old harmonies and solos. I guess that stuff never really leaves your memory. In the late afternoon, Rog had a guitar student come by for a lesson. I took that opportunity to meditate, while Doug chatted with Tammy. They invited us to stay for dinner, which of course, we did. Tammy, used to cooking for a large family, laid out quite a spread and we ate it all! 8) A little after 6, we were on the road for home, getting back by 7:30. Fun day.”

March 12, 2007: Flood Lite plays its annual afternoon show in Montgomery at WV Tech. "This was the first year that the gathering was orchestrated by Bob Simile -- Fred, the fellow who used to bring there, had retired at the end of the previous year -- but there was little change in the way things were done." Charlie said in an email to his mom. "As usual, we played for the school's 'Appalachian studies' class. It was mainly Joe's show -- fiddle tunes, stories, etc. -- and the class was very receptive. We always enjoy this little gig.”

March 14, 2007: Flood Lite (this time Dave, Doug and Charlie) played in Ashland at a party at Nancy McClellan's house, a smaller than usual Flood contingent, "but we had a good time," Charlie told his mom in a later email. "Also, our good buddy, Rob McNurlin, dropped by and picked with us. Rob is a fine singer and songwriter, and we always enough his sitting in. Nancy had a houseful and we played until 11. Good times.”

May 3, 2007: The local Goodwill Industries opened a new store downtown – like a mini-Tamarack – to carry juried crafts that have been approved by Tamarack. Manager Carter Taylor Seaton, a long-time Flood fan, asked us play for the grand opening and since they bought a bunch of Flood CDs for sale in the store, we were happy to.

Goodwill

May 5, 2007: At Heritage Farm and Village Museum, the band played the spring fest and it was "probably the best time since we started playing at this annual event," Charlie reported in an email to his mom. "The weather was nice and cool. (You never know what we're going to get around here on the first weekend in May. In years pasted, it's been hot and sticky; other times it felt like it was going to snow. Yesterday, it was in the 70s and, while it was a little drizzly, there were no downpours and the crowd seemed to be in a particularly good mood.)" All the Floodsters except Joe made it and we set up at 10 on the first front porch of the largest of the 20-some log buildings on the farm and kicked into some rollicking stringband music to greet the folks when the were entering the place by cars and buses. "Lotsa smiles," Charlie wrote. "We played a solid two hours and, as usual, had as much fun as the listeners, with jokes and stories sandwiched in with the tunes.”

May 19, 2007: Illness plagued the band's 8th appearance at the great Coon-Sanders Fan Reunion Bash that Saturday morning. Dave had already called the previous evening to say that he couldn't make the show because Susie was in the hospital for observation. So, first thing yesterday morning Charlie completely re-did the set list, removing Dave's portion of it -- which was about a a third of the 15 tunes we were to do.

"Then about 8:30 morning," Charlie told him mom in an email, "as I was tuning my guitar and running through some of the tunes on the new list, the phone rang and it was Sam sounding terrible. Strep throat. No Sam. Groan. Back to the keyboard to revise the set list again, removing Sam's portion, another, oh, fourth of the set list. I ended up with an entirely re-done list of 15 ... and I decided to stop answering the phone."

When he got to the hotel where the "jugband breakfast" was to be staged, he told Joe, Doug and Chuck that the good news was we'd have plenty of room on the stage. Still, despite all the problems, the set went great. "The four of us rocked and the crowd really appreciated it," Charlie said. "We have more fun at that gig than any we ever do and got lots of great feedback from the mostly-musician audience. Very satisfying.”

2007-tamarackJune 10, 2007: Super Flood fan Nancy McClellan joined us for the trek to Beckley for another Sunday afternoon show at Tamarack. After lunch, while Nancy and Pamela shopped, Charlie met up with the guys on stage for the sound check. :Everyone arrived a little after 1, the staff got the mikes set up -- we need seven of them when we're all full strength -- ran through a few songs so the audio people could set their levels, then knocked off until the show," Charlie told his mom in a later email.

"At 2, we had a full house. One of the kewl things about playing Tamarack is that we always have a nice mix of listeners. For the folks of nearby Beckley, the weekly Sunday afternoon concerts are a frequent week starter. We also always have a cadre of Flood fans who have driven in from Charleston or Huntington. But also we usually have -- as we did this time -- about the third of the audience who are not from West Virginia. Because Tamarck is situated at the intersection of two interstate highways (I-64 and I-77), we get a lot of folks who are on the road on their vacation and stop for lunch, then stay for the concert while they rest before hitting the road again. We always include a few tunes for our non-West Virginia brothers and sisters.

"And everyone was especially on for the show," he added. "Of course, the Flood is full of hams -- everyone loves being on stage -- so the shows are always full of laughs and good times, particularly when we can make eye contact and that's another great thing about Tamarack's theatre -- while it's big, it's laid out in a way that allows it to feel intimate and you can see facial expression and the Flood thrives on that. We gave 'em a little over an hour's music, including some new stuff that was getting its debut on stage.”

After the show, we even took advantage of the pretty weather and Tamarack's lovely courtyard to grab a new posed pictures for advertising futures shows.

June 24, 2007: The band played again at FestivAll, this time at Charleston’s wonderful old Capital Theater. "We got there in plenty of time," Charlie told his mom in an email later, “to wander around backstage of the funky old theater on Summers Street. It's a pretty little house these days, having been refurbished and renovated out the wazoo over the years. We followed a raucous Morgantown band called Stewed Mulligan, whom we've shared the stage with before. They're one of the good ol' hippy bands that's still around.”

The Flood was actually billed for this gig as "Joe Dobbs and Friends," which gave us an opportunity for some pre-show jokes. For instance, Charlie called Dave and said, "Hey, would you like to be Joe Dobbs' friend this weekend? It'll be worth about a hundred dollars to ya." To which Dave said, "Well, that's at the bottom of my scale, but hey, I've not got any better offers for that day..."

2007-festival

The show itself went well. "We had a respectable enough crowd," Charlie noted. "One of the problems with FestivALL is that there's stuff going on literally all over town, so few venues are getting much of a crowd. But we had a loud, happy bunch and we gave 'em a good mix of stuff.”

July 11, 2007: The Flood took another stab at recording the band’s next album. On the same mission the previous year, we’d gathered in St. Albans for an evening of recording at Joe’s new studio at Fret ’n Fiddle, but we hadn’t been happy with the results. We were more optimistic at this evening’s prospects. Flood fan Bo Sweeney was building a full-fledged recording studio in the house right next door to the Bowens' place and was interested in using the band to test out the new facilities. However, the plan was that he would record us in our own digs – the library of the Bowen house where the band played every week – then do all the mixing and general engineering in the new studio. On this particular Wednesday evening, Bo arrived early with a whole slew of recording equipment -- mikes and stands, cables, a console – and was setting them up around our usual practice area when the band members arrived. This promised to be a much more agreeable recording session, since we didn't have to travel to a studio and give the process hours and hours. This was MUCH easier -- just having pretty much our regular jam session, but with Bo flipping the switches first.

july 2007

And the recording DID go well that night. However, as it worked out, none of that evening's work ever ended up on a Flood album. The reason? Unbeknownst to us, of course, we were heading for a big change; within a few months, we would hear young guitarist Jacob Scarr, who would quickly become an intregal part of the group. With Jacob came a new sound for our original old boy band, a sound that would be preserved on the next album, “Wade in the Water,” but that CD would now be four years in the future.

Most of the tunes we played for Bo that night would eventually be re-arranged and appear on later albums. All except one. Even though we've regularly performed our rendition of the Mississippi Sheiks’ standard “Sittin' on Top of the World” at shows over the decades, for some reason the song is yet to make it onto a Flood album. Here's the tune as Bo heard it that night in July 2007. ("Sittin' on Top of the World," July 11, 2007).

Aug. 3, 2007: The Flood has played at Prickett's Fort near Fairmont, WV, a number of times over the years, starting in the summer of 2003. The 2007 gig there was the first time Michelle joined us on stage there and the first time we got some video of the do:

   
Summertime Moonshine in Those WV Hills

 
Sittin' on top of the World / Clarinet Polka

STORIES:

-- Eau de Fairmont. Charlie and Chuck reminiscent about a certain stinky moment at one of the Fairmont gigs.

JoeHouseAug. 8, 2007: The Huntington area contingent of the Family Flood hit the road to play at the housewarming for Joe Dobbs' new digs in St. Albans, WV.

Brother Joe had had many abodes since we’d met the fiddler 40 years earlier. In the spring of 1975, for instance, when he began his decades of playing with David and Charlie, Joe was still married to Amy, and they and the kids were living in Dickson, a bedroom community of Lavalette, south of Huntington. Later, when the kids were grown and Amy was gone, Joe would live in a rickety old house in the woods outside of Hurricane, WV, next door to his son Scott and his family. That was the place that Joe called “the Leaning Tower of Dobbs,” because the building did have a rather precipitous tilt.

"Oh, it was great!" Joe’s old friend, fellow fiddler Buddy Griffin, used to chortle. “Why, you could never lose anything in that place. If you dropped something on the east side, you just started looking west, because it had probably rolled that way…”
Joe loved the setting on his Hurricane home — he often talked about the joy of summer mornings there, going out onto the porch with his cats and his fiddle and joining the birds in serenading the squirrels. Still, friends and family finally persuaded him to seek stabler surroundings before the building had its inevitable rendezvous with gravity. So it was that in the summer of 2007 he and Edwina Ziegler moved into town, settling into what would become Joe’s last address, a two-story home on Walnut Street in St. Albans. Suburban, but not TOO citified.

"It's a big, wonderful place," Charlie told his mom in an email the next day, “lots of room upstairs and down, and great places for music and for Joe's workshop. Pretty kitchen and backed up against the woods. In fact, as the Flood was jammin' in the living room, three deer wandered out of the forest and down the driveway to the street. All the Floodsters and lots of Flood friends were on hand for the joyous evening. Had a nice houseful!"

Aug. 29, 2007: Bo Sweeney – with “assistant” Jacob Scarr – recorded more Flood tunes, " a busy evening, of course, in Flooddom," Charlie told his mom in an email. Bo and Jacob started bringing in the mikes and stands about 7, and the guys began arriving at 7:30. "By 8, the actual recording started and for the next two and half hours, we were pretty much focused on the job at hand," Charlie wrote. "We recorded 10 tunes, mostly of the screaming jugband variety -- I wanted to save them all for one session -- along with a few instrumentals, and vocals by Dave and Sam. It was a real mixed bag of pieces and felt to me like everyone was really on the money."

Sept. 8, 2007: Everyone but Joe made the scene for the band's annual little set at the Fraley Festival at Carter Caves, Ky. "We asked an old friend and Flood fan, tenor banjo man Bob Anderson from North Carolina, to join us on stage for our tunes and it really rocked," Charlie told his mom in an email. "Those folks, accustomed to an entire weekend of fiddle tunes, bluegrass and ballads, really seemed to enjoy the change of space of a few jugband tunes. Afterwards, we sat and jammed in the parking lot for an hour or so and made a few new friends.”

Oct. 1, 2007: The gang played down at the riverfront to entertain folks boarding a boat for a Hospice House cruise, with Chuck Romine sitting on banjo and Jacob Scarr helping with the sound.

2007 riverfront

"The weather was perfect, the crowd was fun and the company, as always, was the best," Charlie told his mom in an email."We played solidly for an hour and half as the some 600 people arrived to board the riverboat for their cruise. Lots of grins and nice comments. It was a great evening.”

Oct. 10, 2007: Fourteen-year-old Jacob Scarr picked with The Flood for the first time. The guys in the band already knew Jacob as the polite young man who lately had been coming to listen at the weekly jam session (usually brought by his friends Tom Pressman or Rose Marie Riter) and who more recently who had been helping out with the sound system at gigs, but until that night, none of us knew the youngster could play. That autumn Dave-1978evening, Doug Chaffin had brought both his mandolin and guitar and midway through the session, he noticed Jacob eying the guitar. "Pick it if you'd like," Doug whispered and in the next few minutes, everyone in the room was grinning as sweet, round, funky blues figures started rolling from the boy's fingers. "Damn!" Dave Peyton muttered appreciatively. "Play it again, Youngblood," Charlie said. The nickname would stick because Jacob became a regular at the weekly jams throughout the winter. Jacob played his first major gig with us the following spring when The Flood played its annual Saturday morning breakfast show at the Coon Sanders Nighthawks Reunion Bash. Here's a sample of his solos from that fun May morning. Jacob would officially join the band in early 2009 (we wanted to wait to make sure he kept his interested in playing music with people his parents' and grandparents' age) and would play with us as our youngest member until he left for college in Colorado in 2011. At 23, Jacob, now a Floodster Emeritus, is attending law school in Boulder, but he still regularly sits in with us when he's back in town.

STORIES:

-- How We First Learned Jacob Played. Charlie relates the story of the shy young man who would soon liven up The Flood's entire set list.

 

Oct. 17, 2007: Word that young Jacob Scarr would be sitting in again on guitar brought out a particularly enthusiasti crowd for the weekly jam session. "We had a great turnout of listeners," Charlie told his mom in an email. ". Miz Rose was there and Bob and JoAnn McCoy. Also our old friends Tom and Sharon Pressman were on hand. ... Actually, it was Tom Pressman who first brought 14-year-old Jacob to a Flood jam last year. As I mentioned earlier, Jacob sat and listened for months without our knowing that he even played. Oh, we knew he was taking guitar lessons, but we had no idea until last week -- when borrowed Doug's guitar -- that he could contribute something to the blues stuff. Well, after that, we said, 'Hey, kid, next week bring your own axe in sit in!' And he did -- his father, Tom Scarr, brought him and seemed to have a ball listening to him jamming with the old guys. And it turns out to be a curious story. Pamela was chatting with Sharon quietly and it seems that Jacob -- who's apparently very shy -- has been studying guitar with only a little over two years, but had never played for his family -- until last weekend! It may be that his sitting in with the Flood the first time may have given him a serious boost in confidence. How cool is that? Well, he rocked even better last night on his own guitar and we really enjoyed having him with us. He plays very tastefully and it's given me a real good feeling about the future of the Flood."

Oct. 19, 2007: At Charleston's Mariott hotel, the band was hired by Don Van Horn of Marshall University to play for a conference in a "huge tented pavillion, which was set up with probably 250 chairs around round tables," Charlie told his mom in an email. "This was a gathering of arts educators and artists from all around the East Coast and Van Horn asked specifically for an emphasis on Appalachian music. Also, we weren't hired to do a 'show,' but rather to provide background music while the folks came in the hall and then as they ate their lunch. So, once the soundcheck was done, we jumped into our first tunes, leaning heavily on Joe's Appalachian fiddle tunes, occasionally mixing them in with a few swing numbers and even and occasional jugband tune, but mostly fiddle. It went very well; the folks seemed to enjoy it.”

Nov. 6, 2007: The band was hired by Judge D.B. Daugherty to provide background music for a political reception for his daughter who was running for county magistrate. It was a long evening for the four of us, Joe, David, Bub and Charlie. "We were there at 4:30 to set up and do the sound check, then we played four 30-minute sets between 5:15 and 9:15, Charlie reported to his mom in a later email. "There was an hour's break between sets 2 and 3, which gave us time to run across the road to the Bob Evans for a quick bite.”

Nov. 14, 2007: Mike Ellis (affectionately known among the local music community as "Mickey D") began jamming with us on drums. "We first met him last summer," Charlie told his mom in an email, "when Sam and Bub brought him to work the sound board for us at the Fairmont, WV, gig. We were all real pleased with how the things worked out for that, and brought him back last month to work sound when we played the job in Charleston. And Mickey even joined us on stage to play a little harmonica duet with Sam on one of our blues. I've been trying to get Mickey to come by one of the jam sessions ever since, but just couldn't seem to get on his schedule. Well, last night, he showed up -- not just with harps, but also with some percussion. It turns out that Mickey also is a drummer. Well, now, the Flood's never been a drum kinda band. Few string bands around here use drums, but Mickey's got a real good touch. Everybody was very pleased with what he was bringing to the sound. He brought an Brazilian drum as well as a simple snare and brushes and sat in the whole evening. Lots of folks sit in with the Flood, week in and week out, but every once in a while, someone shows up who seems like a lost soul brother. Mickey D just might be one of those people. We'll see.”

Kathy-RoseDec. 1, 2007: Kathy Castner has never been a member of The Flood, but she has always been one of our favorite visiting singers ever since she first sang with the band 14 years ago tonight. The Christmas season usually brings Kathy to Huntington to visit her cousin (and honorary big brother), Charlie. For that December 2007 trip, Flood Fan Extraordinaire Rose Marie Riter said, "We gotta celebrate with a party." Now, as everyone knows, when Miz Rose wants something to happen, it usually does, and Rose made this night especially memorable.

While Kathy has a beautiful voice, inherited from her mom, she has always a bit shy about performing in public, but encouraged by the band -- and perhaps fortified with an eggnog or two (we can't remember, and wouldn't tell if we did) -- she stepped up and brought down the house with her spot-on vocals.

A bit later, urged particularly by her super-fan, fiddler Joe Dobbs, Kathy sat in with The Flood at a rehearsal. From that same evening, recorded by the good and noble Bo Sweeney and featuring Joe, Doug, Bub and Charlie in the supporting cast, here’s Kathy’s rendition "Loving Arms," Dec. 1, 2007.

2008

Jan. 19, 2008: A Flood contingent travelled to Ashland, Ky., on a wintry Saturday night to play a surprise party for NancyMcClellan's 75th birthday, and "it was quite some evening!" Charlie Nancy-Pamelatold his mom in an email the next day. "Pamela and I left Huntington about 6 yesterday evening, driving straight to the Ann Davis Gallery in downtown Ashland, where people had already started gathering. Over the next 45 minutes, people kept coming, many of the musicians, like us, who'd have been her friends for 40 years or more.

Nancy"The players gathered seated in a circle in the front, so there would be music when she arrived. And what a scene that was! She really was surprised, we think. I couldn't imagine that she really didn't suspect, but seeing her face when she walked in and found 75 people gathered there in her honor... well, it was pretty obvious. What fun!"

Musically, the evening was interesting. The gallery was a long, narrow room and the musicians separated into several groups: the singers and guitar pickers in the front, fiddlers and "old-time" musicians in the back. "That's not unusual," Charlie noted. "While there's a lot of mutual respect between the singers (who sort of descend from the folksinger/rock legacy) and the old-time players (who come out of the square dance tradition), but honestly, after an hour or so, we tend to bore each other and gravitate in different directions. In a nice long room like that, it works perfectly, since the two groups can play their hearts out and not interrupt each other and the listeners can move back and forth between the two groups."

And of course, there was lots of food on the long table that stretched from one group to the other, where many stories were exchanged. "We stayed until 10:30," Charlie noted, "then headed out into the COLD -- it was already 17 degrees and falling." The next morning, folks woke to 8 degrees, coldest day so far that winter.

Mike and SydneyFeb. 20, 2008: Mike Smith, our favorite British fiddler/folksinger, made his first appearance at a Flood jam session. He wowed us with his wit and humor, his tidy, gorgeous playing and his remarkable memory for long, involved (and sometimes cleverly ribald) ballads which he could perform a cappella upon request. And of course, all the ladies instantly fell in love with his wonderful accent. Mike and the late Joe Dobbs worked at many twin fiddle pieces and Mike occasionally sat in with the band at local gigs.

Mike, who is married to long-time Flood friend Erin Burnett Smith and who in those days worked at Marshall University, became a regular at weekly Floodishness for the next half dozen years, often arriving at our door with his adorable stepdaughter Sydney. A few years back, Mike and Erin left Huntington for a new home and careers in Portland, Oregon. They are greatly missed.

 

Mike’s first appearance at a Flood jam predated the launch of our podcasts, so we don’t have a record of his first performances with us. However, as soon as we started those weekly broadcast, Mike was featured regularly, starting in April 2009. Meanwhile, above is a video extra, Mike's December 2009 performance of the wonderfully wacky “Oor Hamlet,” four-minute a cappella recap of all five acts of "Hamlet." Mike's tune comes from the madly unbuttoned mind of Scottish folksinger Adam McNaughtan.

Meanwhile, in the spring in 2020, we celebrated our long friendship in an hour-long Mike-oriented "Pajama Jam" video, which you an see here.

March 5, 2008: The weekly jam session started a little strangely. Joe, who's missed the previous three of them, showed up an hour early. (He had a routine doctor's appointment, which put him in Huntington early.) But "he didn't look at all well," Charlie told his mom in a later email, "tired, little feverous, even talking about the flu ...He indicated that he might not be able to stay the whole time." But then, once the the rest of the folks started arriving... first, Mickey, then Bub and Doug, then Michelle and Jacob, then Sam ... "Joe WAILED -- best I've heard him play in a long time! I swear... it's funny sometimes. Everyone was in such fine form last night. And we had a surprise visit from Chuck and Phyllis! Chuck's back in town to get ready for his prostate surgery next Monday. He was looking great. He didn't play, but we did get him singing a bit. Fun.”

Footnote: Charlie's description of Joe that night seemed a little prescient, considering that less than two weeks later, Joe suffered a heart attack while playing a solo gig.

March 7, 2008: For the third time, the band was invited to entertain at the Cabell County Public Library's Ohio River Festival of Books (ORFOB) at the civic arena.

We took up a larger than usual space for the band, with eight of us on hand, Doug and Charlie, Joe and Sam, Bub and Mickey, Jacob and Michelle. That made for a little more complicated sound check, but Mickey Ellis handled the board and made it go smoothly, ready to rock when folks started arriving.

2008-march7-bookfest


We kicked off with a blues, followed by a fiddle tune and then a swing tune with Michelle doing the vocals, and we just never looked back. It was a great evening, and the people really appreciated it.

" It was a great evening," Charlie told his mom in a later email, "and we had a special connection with Jon Carloftis (a Kentuckian and a UK grad who has become recognized as one of the nation's premiere garden designers.) -- he and his mother were at the reception Friday night and really liked the band. In fact, after our set, Jon approached us about maybe playing a Derby Day party he's planning in Lexington some time. Might be cool! Nice guy.”

March 16, 2008: Joe Dobbs demonstrated how a hard-working fiddler goes about having a heart attack. He was playing a solo gig – at a funeral, no less! – when he started feeling bad. Nonetheless, he finished the gig (hey, a job's a job...), then he drove himself home where he told his friend, Edwina Ziegler, that maybe he ought to go to the hospital. They immediatley admitted him to the ICU – “Want to get a lot of attention,” he said later. “Show up at an emergency room and say you have chest pains!” – where doctors discovered he had major artery blockage and diabetes, but not much heart muscle damage. They put two stents in and a couple days later sent him home. He would make a full recovery and make another seven years worth of memories with the band.

Joe-2008

March 26, 2008: Dan Trout, at the time married to the Bowens' niece Heather, sat in with the band on drums, with Mickey D switching to harmonica for the evening.

April 13, 2008: Assorted challenges — from health problems to loopy acoustics — plagued the band at its first paying gig of the year, playing background music for an open house at the Huntington Museum of Art.

“We saw the problems as soon as we started arriving to set up,” Charlie told his mom later in an email. “They wanted to play in corner of the gallery that housed the exhibit for which the open house was being held. It was a boomy, high-ceiling room that was going to make it difficult for us to hear each 2008-aprilother. We needed to set the sound system accordingly, with just a touch of amplification on the voices and the softer instruments, like Doug's mandolin and Jacob's guitar. Micky D and Bub worked at that, while the rest of us just tried to be useful, setting up mike and stands and arranging the chairs.”

During the setup, it was increasingly apparent that The Flood folks were not feeling the best:

— David Peyton was increasingly feeling the need for the hip replacement surgery he would eventually get. “We scored a wheelchair to get him into the room from his car,” Charlie wrote. “In fact, Dave stayed in the wheelchair for the gig, finding it much more comfortable than the straight-back chairs the museum provided for the rest of us.”

— Joe Dobbs, still recovering from a heart attack he’d suffered a month earlier, arrived with Edwina looking "pale and lighter -- he's lost weight -- and seemed frail and a little tentative on his playing, but did fine,” Charlie’s email noted. “We used his fiddle a little more sparingly than usual, trying to help him conserve his energy.”

— And the group had one unexpected health challenge that day. Dave Ball’s blood pressure had shot up again and the doctor had put in on a new medication than left him dizzy and occasionally disoriented. “In fact,” Charlie noted, “we made an alternate plan to have Doug switch to bass if need be, though as it worked out we didn't need to go that way."

Meanwhile, it was the largest ensemble we had ever put on stage -- nine of us in all -- and band manager Pamela got hr posed picture above to commemorate the moment. While being interviewed by a Herald-Dispatch reporter during a break at the do, Charlie quipped about the band's size, saying that The Flood lately seemed to be having orchestral ambitions. The writer, apparently not understanding it was meant as a joke, reported the next morning that the music for the afternoon was provided by “The 1937 Flood Orchestra.”

April 25, 2008: The band played a private gig for the Lions Club at Pullman Plaza Hotel in downtown Huntington. It was a long evening -- 8 to 9:30 -- we played a 30-minute show first, then took a 20-minute break and came back with an hour's worth of dance music for the folks. The first set featured the whole band, then the second set, for the dancing, relied on Michelle's swing numbers. Neither Dave nor Joe could make the job, so we called more on Sam, Doug and Jacob to back up Michelle's vocals.

May 6, 2008: Using the new ZOOM H2 digital recorder they had just bought, the band started recording the weekly rehearsal/jam sessions. Eventually, the recordings would become the basis for the weekly Flood podcasts, which would launch seven months later. On hand for this first recorded jam were listeners Bob and JoAnn McCoy, visiting from Florida, and British fiddler Mike Smith. And here's a tune from that inaugural recorded jam, Dave introducing us to another Aunt Jenny Wilson tune, "Hustlers and Gamblers," May 6, 2008.

May 17, 2008: By 2008, we had played at the annual Coon Sanders Bash – a Huntington gathering of traditional jazz musicians and fans – more than a half dozen times. The first few years we played at breakfast, we were almost drowned out by chatter from people who'd see each other only once a year and wanted to catch up, but then they actually began to listen and by now there was absolutely no chatter at all. The Flood then started giving out a couple dozen kazoos and everybody played along. Some people said they came to the gathering just to hear the Flood.

jazzou-2008

It's was always special, but never more so than the May 2008 CS gathering, because that was the year that our friend, pianist Jazzou Jones sat in with us. Jazzou was in Charleston, W.Va., that Saturday, brought down from his Maine home by a friend who owns a coal company and was going to be married on his towboat, the historic J.S. Lewis, on the Charleston riverfront. There was a huge tent covering a barge, where the reception would be. Jazzou was to play a steam calliope during the wedding. We discovered that he was free Saturday morning, so Charlie invited him to perform with the Flood at the Coon Sanders Bash, and he was a big hit. It’s wonderful to hear a piano on the jug band songs. Here's a sample of the morning, as we launch into our set and then mid-tune, call Jazzou to the keyboard.

Want more? In the spring in 2020, we celebrated this wonderful morning in an hour-long Jazzou-oriented "Pajama Jam" video, which you an see below.

 

Of course, the highlight memory of the day always will be Jazzou's appearance with us, but also there was Flood news for the oldest and the youngster guys on the stage that day. For 15-year-old Jacob Scarr, who had started jamming with us just the previous autumn, it was hisfirst time at Coon-Sanders. It was also probably the first time in recent memory that he'd been up that early in the morning. Not an early bird, was our Youngblood...) Meanwhile, for Joe Dobbs, it was the first big Flood show since his heart attack, hospitalization and surgery in March. He was still on the mend, but insistent that he wouldn't miss a Coon-Sanders gathering.

STORIES:

-- Do You Too Kazoo? Dale Jones and Charlie exchange barbs about kazoos. Then the extended Kazoo Seminar commences.

-- Dale Jones Gets Out the Hook. He comes up with a special line to get us to quit playing.

May 19, 2008: David has his hip replacement surgery. He was in surgery for just an hour and half - no complications - and the doctor "was able to replace the bad hip," Charlie told his mom in an emaily, "and to realign it to the position when Dave was 16 or 17 years old. (Amazing times.)"

May 23, 2008: After playing for the 2007 grand opening of “The Depot,”Goodwill Industries' downtown gift shop in Huntington, The Flood was invited back by manager Carter Taylor Seaton to play its first birthday. Unfortuately, the whole band couldn't make it this time, but a four-man contingent -- Joe, Bub, Mickey D and Charlie -- played a couple of hours of background music. As Charlie later told his mom in an email, "It was a light turnout -- hey, noon on a work day... -- but we had fun and Joe was BACK. After some rather tentative playing at the last coupla practices and gigs, he played with much better resolve and determination this time. Good times.” And the small, informal venue allowed the boys to experiment a bit. For instance, at that time, Dave Ball had just started trying out a bow on his upright bass, as you can hear in the first of these two tunes from that spring afternoon in downtown Huntington, accompanied occasionally by the whirl of the espresso machine....: ("Down by the Sallie Garden" and "Payday," May 23, 2008)

June 3, 2008: Floodster Emeritus Chuck Romine checked in to let us know that he had been diagnosed with the early stages Parkinson's Disease. In a letter to his mom, Charlie noted that Chuck had been concerned about problems with his hand and shoulders and gone to the Cleveland Clinic for examination. The condition slowly undermined his playing, though the optimal word was "slowly." In fact, six years after this sad news, Chuck was still playing occasional gigs with the band, as seen here in this performance at Woodlands in March 2014.

June 18, 2008: Recording at the regular weekly jam session, the guys played the tune -- "St. Louis Blues" -- that would end up being used on the very first Flood podcast when it was launched in six momths. And a good evening it was. "I can always tell when we had a particularly good jam," Charlie told his mom in an email, "when the next morning I find it a little harder to type, because the fingertips on my left hand are still tender from chording the guitar!" Also, Wendell Dobbs sat in. As Charlie told his mom in a later email, "I can always tell when I had a particular good time when the nezt morning find it a little harder to type, because the fingertips on my left hand are still tender from chording the guitar. Everybody but Sam and Dave was there and we had a special visitor. As I think I mentioned yesterday, Wendell Dobbs (no relation to Joe) is a neighbor who plays flute in the symphony and he's a good friend who also has a Irish band. I ran into Wendell at Starbucks last Sunday and he was asking after Joe. I told him that he should stop by the practice to visit with him. Well, he did. And he brought his flute with him to sit in with us. Very cool indeed. Fun evening!”

June 25, 2008: "The old Dave is back!" Charlie told his mom in an email. He and Pamela had a pre-jam dinner with the Peytons and "Pamela and I were both amazed at how good Dave looked -- his color's back and so is his sense of humor. It was The Old Dave. After dinner, it was back here to get set up for the jam session and it was a great evening of music. Boy, but it was great to hear Dave's Autoharp, voice and kazoo again! Everybody just grinned 'til their cheeks ached! We played hard until 10 o'clock. Good times.”

July 3, 2008: A dear Flood friend — the remarkable young violinist Noel Sayre — died at Southern Ohio Medical Center, a day and a half after a swimming pool accident in Wheelersburg, Ohio. He was 37.

For more than five years, Noel had begun regularly sitting in with our band at its weekly jam sessions, thrilling fellow players and listeners with the hot licks he regularly traded with our fiddler, the late Joe Dobbs. Noel attended his first Flood night on Sept. 17, 2003, after initially hearing The Flood in the summer of 2002 when the band was featured in a riverfront concert with the Huntington Symphony Orchestra. In fact, Noel was in the string section of the orchestra that night, and after the show he took pains to seek out Floodsters to compliment the band’s eclectic selections. Later he even confessed that he still had one of the kazoos we'd handed out that night for our weird/wonderful sing/play-along.

Flash forward 15 months to the autumn of 2003: As Charlie told his mom in a later email, “Noel ran into Sam somewhere and Sam invited him to the jam session. Noel call here and asked for directions and then came on by. What an outstanding musician! He was able to improvise right along with us. His fiddling and Joe's complimented each other so well! He's from Huntington -- lives over on Norway Avenue these days -- but he lived in Columbus for a while, and plays in a band called The Black Swans.

"Well, he must have had a good time," Charlie's note cotinued, "because he was the last guy to leave that night. We're hoping he comes back regularly – fun!” Noel would be back to jam with us dozens of times over the next five years, right up until the time of shocking death on July 3, 2008.

Later that month, Pamela and Charlie attended a memorial service for him. "It was sad and sweet," Charlie later told him mom in an email. " Noel had no immediate family left. In fact, the only family there were two out of town cousins, one of whom admitted she'd never met him. But what was touching were all the young friends who had come, some from as far away as New York. Many -- most, even -- were musicians who had played with Noel in various groups. Others were some of his young violin students and their parents. As we entered the church and walked forward, we found Noel's violin and picture in front of the alter and a trio of musicians from the Huntington Symphony playing. Very moving.”

One of our lasting regrets is that all of Noel's jams with us pre-dated our starting to regularly record and/or video the weekly sessions, so we have no recordings of his short time with us. However, we have located the attached September 2006 video of Noel playing with The Black Swans in a radio station studio in Portland, Maine, accompanying his long-time friend and bandmate Jerry DeClicca, whom Noel had played with since a 1995 New Year’s Eve show they did together in Columbus, Ohio. We're honored to use a portion of the above video as a tribute to our old friend. We miss you, brother!

July 18, 2008: The guys played at Heritage Farm Museum and Village for a company picnic/party for Jenkins-Fenstermaker law firm. "Honestly, I was kind ofdreading this job," Charlie told his mom in an email, "because I figured we'd be outside in the 90+ heat. But! when we got to the farm, we were greeted by a sign that said, 'Jenkins-Fenstermaker party, upstairs,' and sure enough, the picnic was INdoors in one of the farm's very nice and air-conditioned rooms. We were give a corner of the room to set up in and the acoustics were fine without the sound system. Everyone but Joe was there for the job, and we played three lively sets of background music. It was a gas, and much easier than I'd anticipated.”

Aug. 21, 2008: At Heritage Farm Museum and Village, the band is hired to play a political rally for Huntington mayoral candidate Kim Wolfe. "We worked on the front porch of the welcome center, one of our favorite places to play," Charlie told his mom in an email. "Wolfe had great turnout -- several hundred people on a steamy Thursday night! Flood Lite did great and we had fun, and got for it. Can't beat that.”

Sept. 3, 2008: We jammed at a house party of Joe’s house in St. Albans, partying with Rod and Judy Jones, visiting from Australia, and Sallie Sublette, in from Idaho. "There was already a houseful when we got there," Charlie told his mom in an email, "and they just kept coming all evening. We saw folks we hadn't seen in years... Some of the 'old-time' musicians -- fiddlers and banjo players -- gathered in another part of the house to do their music while we did ours in the front room. Listeners could drift back and forth between each group."

Sept. 5, 2008: The band played the Fraley Festival at Carter Caves, with Peyton driving Charlie and Sam over to meet up with Joe and Doug.

Oct. 6, 2008: The Flood produced its first homemade video on this day. In the late summer, Pamela, our manager, bought a little digital camera called a FlipVideo which could produce quick film clips that could be easily uploaded to the Internet through then-new YouTube service. She gave it the first good tryout at the band's next gig, down at Huntington's Harris Riverfront Park where the guys were hired to entertain passengers waiting to board the Belle of Cincinnati, a large excursion boat chartered for a Hospice of Huntington fund-raising dinner cruise.

 

The weather was perfect and a lot of people who weren’t actually going on the cruise came down to see the band. This was still five months before Jacob Scarr officially joined the band, but at weekend and after-school events, he was regularly bandstandssitting, as seen in the video. Also featured are shots of The Flood's new bandstands, which Joe had recommended, proclaiming the name of the band, and, in smaller type, the motto that Joe's son, Dale, first proposed can in 2001: “West Virginia’s most eclectic string band.” Of course, the bandstands are meant to hold sheet music, but since most of these guys couldn't read music, we hem for other “literature” such as a Downbeat magazine, a Playboy and an instruction book called, “How to Play Guitar.”

The video still has an active life on YouTube; in its first 11 years it had more than 9,000 views.

Oct. 18, 2008: In the hills outside of Charleston, the band was hired to play a reception in Pinch for the wedding of Vicki and Albert Schafer. "The wedding reception was at the retreat in the mountains above the city at a very nice camp site with a fancy log house," Charlie told his mom in an email. "They'd erected a huge tent down the hill and we set up near the dance floor. It was a tight fit, but we squeezed everyone in, got a quick sound check and, by 6, were swinging right along. It was a neat job -- the band really connected with the crowd. People danced and laughed and sang along. We played hard for 50 minutes, then took a 10-minute break, came back and did the second half, wrapping up at 8."

Oct. 19, 2008: The Flood played one of its favorite venues, Tamarack, the beautiful state-run arts and crafts center in Beckley. The center always offers a free Sunday afternoon concert and a lot of locals go there for dinner (provided by the Greenbrier resort) and a show. We've played the Sunday show many times over the years. In fact, we played in its first years of operation back in the 1990s.

This time it was special because Joe Elbert, our friend who recently retired as assistant managing editor for photos from The Washington Post, drove over (5 hours each way!) to film the concert for a music video he gave to the guys. Linked here are two songs – “Didn't He Ramble?” and “Moonshine in Those West Virginia Hills” – from that Oct. 19, 2008, appearance.

 

Oct. 29, 2008: Writer Tamar Alexia Fleishman writes a story for West Virginia's Graffiti newspaper, saying The Flood is "made up for some of the state's most revered and important music personalities. Here's a .pdf of her story.

Dec. 10, 2008: It was a chilly, drizzly night, and frankly Charlie wasn't really in the mood for picking. "I thought, shoot, maybe we ought to just cancel," he wrote his mom the next day, "so I called Joe's cell phone to see if he wanted to cancel, and Joe -- who usually is more than willing to forego a session, THAT Joe -- said, 'Well, okay, but I half way there already!' So quickly, I retracted the offer. 'No, no,' I said, 'come on -- we'll have a ball.' And boy, am I glad we didn't cancel!"

As it turned out, the Bowens had a houseful that night. Sam and Bub came, as did Jacob and Michelle, she just back from a trip to California. Also on hand were a couple of visiting listeners, most notably Nancy McClellan who have driven in from Ashland. "It was the first time we've seen her since her hospitalization earlier this autumn," Charlie wrote. "She looked great and had a good time. Everything just rocked -- we missed Doug and Dave, but shoot, the Flood flows on, whoever's here.”

Here a trio of tunes from the evening, including one that Joe did especially for Nancy. ("Glory of Love," "Ash Grove" and "Bye Bye Blues," Dec. 10, 2008).

jamDec. 21, 2008: We started our weekly "Jam Log, Freebies from The Flood" podcast. The idea began with Sam St. Clair. Earlier that year, Sam noted that the price of good digital recorders had come down dramatically, and he thought we should buy one and have it running during the weekly rehearsals, just … you know … in case somebody might commit some art. To launch the podcast, we combed recordings of the previous few months and just picked a tune that grabbed us. For instance, for this first episode, released a chilly December day in 2008, we chose a typical recording from a warmer June evening, a track from near the end of the night when the rehearsal had morphed into a jam session. On the track, you'll hear Doug and Charlie start picking a blues and and Mickey Dee and Bub hopping in. Before it was over, Joe has joined, then we hand it off to Jacob. And somewhere along the line, we determine that we must be playing is “St. Louis Blues.” The weekly Flood podcast lives on today -- we now done hundreds of them, a new one released for free almost every week -- and you can hear the latest ones on our web site, right here where you also can subscribe to the podcast.

Dec. 24, 2008: The band gathered for its regular Christmas Eve jam for Nancy McClellan, "a great turnout," Charlie wrote later to his mom, "everyone made it, including Doug and Bub, Sam and Joe, Dave and me, and young Jacob and one his friends came. What fun -- an evening of music. ... Oddly, Nancy McClellan, whose party this technically was for, couldn’t make it until late. ... Most everyone had gone by the time she arrived, but Joe hung around and the two of us played some tunes just for her. Nice moment.”

Dec. 28, 2008: The Saturday after Christmas, we performed a benefit concert for Arts Resources of the Tri-State, which operated out of the stately old Huntington High School building not far from the Bowen house. It was a great turnout. More than a hundred people had called in reservations, but a long line of people showed up without reservations, so the organizers scurried around setting up more tables. Eventually everybody was seated and they didn’t run out of food. For Pamela and Charlie, a particularly sweet memory of the Dec. 28 show are that several of Pamela's cousins and their wives came in from Richmond and Hagerstown for the evening and joined Pamela's sister, Bonnie, and her husband, Roy.

Several days before the show, our old buddy Dave Lavender wrote a nice preview in The Herald-Dispatch. Click here for Dave's piece.

dec 2008

For some reason, we didn't record the show, which is a shame, because everyone was on that evening, especially Joe, as you can hear in this snippet from the rehearsal four days earlier (Christmas Eve), when Joe tore off a bit of “Arkansas Traveller” (Dec 24, 2008) as a request from Susie Peyton.

2009

Jan. 7, 2009: The Flood trekked down to Bluegrass Country to play for the first time on the famed syndicated Red Barn Radio show. Produced and directed by the great Ed Commons, the show has made a home for good acoustic music for nearly 20 years now at the Performance Hall at Arts Place in downtown Lexington, Ky.

Red Barn

The Flood brought not only seven folks to the stage — one of the larger ensembles Red Barn had presented to-date for the live show — but also a fair portion of the audience. Doug’s wife, Donna, was on hand, as well of their son Greg, who lives in Lexington, and daughter Pam, who lives in nearby Florence. Meanwhile, Jacob’s uncle and his friends also rolled in for the evening. Here’s audio of four tunes from the evening, starting with the intro for the show, "France Blues," followed by "Didn't He Ramble?", "Red Wing," and "Peggy Day." Jan. 7, 2009) This wonderful evening also was featured in this entry in Flood Watch.

 

Jan. 27, 2009: Charlie spent a snowy, icy, indoors day setting up the new Facebook page for the band.

Feb. 18, 2009: Anchorman Tim Irr of Huntington's WSAZ-TV dropped by one of the Flood's weekly rehearsals tim irrand produced a feature story that beautifully captured the fun and foolishness of such evenings at the Bowen Bower. Charlie and Pamela had invited Tim -- who lives nearby with his family in the South Side -- to simply come by and listen to the music some night on his dinner break between his 6 and 11 p.m. newscasts. They never meant to suggest that he should come and work, but work he did! He filmed for more than hour, catching a number of tunes and interviewing members of the band and the audience.We were fortunate that there just happened to be a particularly good turnout that evening. Susie and Ervin Jones were on hand, as were Rose Riter and her friends, Shirley and Norman Davis. From Ashland, Nancy McClellan and Zoe Brewer drove in as well as Donna Chaffin, Doug's wife. And Mike Smith was sitting in with Joe on fiddle. In his report, Tim interviewed Charlie, Dave and Jacob from the band, as well as Rose and jam session first-timers, Shirley and Norman. Here's the broadcast: 

This magic evening also was reported in this entry in Flood Watch.

STORIES:

-- Corrupting Shirley and Norman. At a 2011 concert in St. Albans, WV, we reflect on our inexcusable corruption of lovely pair of opera lovers.

March 13, 2009: It was Friday the 13th and Flood Lite played its worst gig ever at Marshall University for a group of visiting high school and college students. Michelle had asked Joe and Charlie to back her up on a tune, and ... well, let Charlie tell it, as he did in a later email to his mom. "For starters, we were supposed to go on sometime between 7:15 and 7:30, but this group -- some 600 high school and college kids in attendance -- got waaaaaaay behind schedule and we had an hour of sitting in the lobby waiting... and waiting... and waiting... Finally at 8:30, we went on to do the two little songs they asked us to do -- Michelle was to sing 'Walking After Midnight' and, as a duet with me, 'Blue Moon.' But as when we got to the stage and turned on the mike for my guitar ---- scrrrreeeeeeeech ! Feedback. sigh.... Turned it off. Tried again. scrrrreeeeeeeech ! Grrrrrr.... They tried switching out the mikes. Nope -- the batteries had apparently died in the wireless mikes. What we ended up having to do was Michelle had a wireless mike to sing with and Joe and he played without mikes. Coulda stayed home for all they probably could hear us! What a mess. I felt sorry for Michelle, but she came through like a trouper. And we told her she now had her own Steubenville. The Flood's worst gig ever was an infamous 2002 job in Steubenville, Ohio, and ever since, we've referred to all bad gigs as "a Steubenville."”

Jacob-2009March 14, 2009: Jacob Scarr became an official member of The Flood. The young guitar whiz already had been picking with us for a year and a half, but since he was just 14 years old (!) when he started, we fully expected he would get bored with us at any time. After all, we told each other, for Jacob it had to be like jamming with his grandparents. Weren't these kids of the new millennium supposed to have infamously short attention spans? Well, not Jacob. So when he reached his 16th birthday and still was a regular at the weekly jam sessions, we decided to make it official and invite Jacob -- whom we by now had dubbed "Youngblood" -- to become the band's youngest member ever. It was one of the best decisions we ever made. Jacob played lead guitar with The Flood right up until a recording session on the night before he left for college in Colorado in August 2011. The actual decision to ask Jacob to join us came while The Flood was playing a birthday do for long-time Flood fan and photographer Larry Kendall. Meanwhile, here's a Jacob Scarr solo from The Flood rehearsal the week he officially became a Floodster.

Jacob's joining the band also was featured in this entry in Flood Watch.

Meanwhile, if you'd like to listen to a randomly selected playlist of Jacob Scarr tunes from his decades with The Flood, check out this Jacob Channel on our Radio Floodango feature.

STORIES:

-- The Story of Jacob. Interviewed on Lexington's Red Barn Radio during a 2009 appearance, Charlie tells the story of how Jacob because the youngest Floodster.

JPMarch 25, 2009: Dave, Doug, Joe and Charlie traveled to Rush, Ky., in the afternoon to play for the dying fiddler J.P. Fraley. “I met up with Dave at noon for our drive to Doug's house in Ashland," Charlie wrote his mom later. "Then Doug led the caravan as we drove another 30 or 40 minutes to the backwoods to a beautiful log house near the old abandoned railroad tracks. I really don't think our friend has much longer. J.P.'s now 86, I think, and has suffered at least one stroke and I think also has dementia. But his daughter, who cares for him, says he loves the music and it did seem that he was reacting to it. We set up -- Doug, Joe, Dave and I -- and played for a solid hour, mostly fiddle tunes that we knew J.P. would recognize. I think he always has loved Joe's playing, so it was sweet to watch his reaction. In fact, J.P., who was always handy with a joke, got the biggest laugh of the afternoon as his daughter was leading him into the front room of this wonderful house (which J.P. himself built for his late wife, Annadeen years ago) -- when J.P. saw Joe and his white beard, he whispered to his daughter, 'I wanna kiss Santa Claus!' But that's about the only thing he said all day, but he hummed and tapped his foot and smiled from time to time. It was good afternoon."

April 8, 2009: Joe seemed to go into 2009 with a new burst of energy. "I think I'm finally learning how to play this fiddle," he started saying about them. Of course, his old Flood comrades, who had been picking with Joe since 1975, thought he already had a fairly good handle on the fiddle, but we grinned at his fresh enthusiasm. Here's a sample from a spring evening at the Bowen house, during a Flood rehearsal. Someone -- probably Joe -- had brought a Hardanger violin (a product of Norway) to pass among the room's fiddlers. You'll hear and see Joe playing it at the beginning and end of this clip. It's been passed to visitor Mike Smith during the "Star of the County Down" section of the video. Incidentally, that opening tune, though not identified in the video, is an celtic melody called "Gentle Maiden."

 

April 17, 2009: What a farcical, sad, strange week it was for the Family Flood. Cascading events culminated in our being forced to cancel plans for a spring concert with our old steamboatin' buddies, ragtime pianist Jazzou Jones and tenor banjo master Bob Schad, both of whom we’d known and played with over the years on The Delta Queen steamboat and elsewhere.
HSO-noHow strange a week was it, you ask? Well, it's not every day you find musicians blocking other musicians from performing. But that's just what the board of directors of the Huntington Symphony Orchestra voted to do.

Background: Jazzou and Bob had been invited to Huntington to play with the orchestra as part of its POPS series in a Saturday night concert down on the riverfront on June 13, 2009. They were to be here because of the good works of a local longtime steamboater who was a member of the orchestra board. Well, as soon as we heard our pals were coming to town, we contacted them and made plans for a Jazzou-Bob concert with The 1937 Flood on the day after the orchestra's performance. The Flood never intended to have any financial stake in the concert. On the contrary, donating our time and energy, we planned to charge admission for the Sunday concert and all revenue would go to Jazzou and Bob. We figured we could draw maybe a hundred people. At $10 a head, Jazzou and Bob would each get $500, perhaps doubling what the orchestra would be paying them for the previous night's show.

We then contacted the folks at Renaissance Arts Resources (the old Huntington High) who agreed to donate space for the concert, returning favors for The Flood's helping with their assorted fundraisers. Once word got out around the Internet about the big Bob-Jazzou weekend -- the orchestra on Saturday night, then with The Flood on Sunday afternoon -- steamboatin' fans from as far away as New York and Florida started making plans to be here. So we were set to go.

Bob and JazzouOr so we thought. But then out of the blue, Charlie got a call from the same orchestra board member who had originally arranged the appearance. Now, we all know poor ol' Charlie is a bit naive, but he actually thought she was calling to thank us ... you know, for donating our time, enhancing the weekend, making it even more attractive to those out-of-towners who may be thinking about coming here ... not to mention, oh, providing a chance for more income for our mutual friends. Sorry, Charlie -- not so fast. No, the board member was upset. She said she believed The Flood concert on Sunday would somehow detract from the orchestra's performance the previous night.

Uh, what now? Saying it slower so even Charlie could grasp the concept, she said she thought that people might decide to go to The Flood event instead of the orchestra's concert on the riverfront.

Okay, now, well, that's sort of flattering. Why, yes, of course, there are many similarities between The Flood and a symphony orchestra (though we think we've demonstrated that our kazoo player was better). Still .... well, we don't exactly draw from the same fan pool. Surely no one would seriously think that someone interested in the orchestra would opt for The Flood instead, or vice versa. Who would honestly think a Sunday afternoon concert by the Flood would adversely affect the previous night's performance by the orchestra? On the contrary, Charlie said, it might have really improved turnout for POPS' Saturday evening event. After all, Jazzou and Bob have friends all over the country, and the pair -- living thousands of miles apart, as they do -- got to appear together very, very rarely in those days. As word spread that there would be not one, but two opportunities to see and hear them together again, there would be twice as much reason for their many out-of-town fans to invest in coming to Huntington for that weekend.

Nope. Not having a bit of it. She remained unconvinced. Matters escalated the next day, when Charlie talked to the new orchestra manager, who told him that Jazzou and Bob would be bound by "performance contracts" that prohibited them from playing within 60 miles of Huntington for 60 days before and after the concert. Huh. Well, now, that was news. The board member certainly hadn't mentioned anything about contracts during her lengthy conversation with Charlie the night before. And honestly? You got to question just when these performance contracts actually came into being. We're betting that West Virginia jazz great Bob Thompson didn't signed such a contract before his recent performance with the symphony, we said. Hey, come to think of it, The Flood itself didn't sign anything like that when we played with the symphony orchestra on the riverfront several years earlier. So, you just have to wonder if these restrictions were only now being brought up.

Anyhoo....

In advance of monthly orchestra board meeting later that week, we asked a longtime Flood fan who is also on the orchestra board to make our case to her fellow board members. We wanted her to at least make sure they understood The Flood's good intentions in all of this. Alas, despite her efforts, she reported afterward that the board discussed the issue but in the end would not remove the "60 days, 60 miles" contract provision. So, in the end we reluctantly canceled the June 14 event, sad, but still marveling at the ironies of that week, that:

— Someone would work so hard to bring beloved steamboat musicians to town, then work just as hard to keep them from perhaps doubling their income while they're here.

— The city would open its arms to steamboat and ragtime fans from all over the country to come hear these musical giants, then systematically cut in half the opportunity to visit with them in our town.

— A mighty orchestra all of a sudden would turn protectionist and worry about losing money because of the efforts of a quirky little string band that was simply trying to donate its services and make memories for friends.

But then, on a brighter note, who'd've thought The Flood would ever get to scare a whole symphony orchestra?

LeahIncidentally, a few days later, Leah Branstetter, an Ohio-based celloist and graduate student in musicology, offered this comment on the Flood blog posting:

“The situation reminds me very much of when a friend of mine started a community orchestra in a suburb near Columbus. The powers that be at the Columbus Symphony immediately perceived this as a threat--why, certainly patrons of this new orchestra (donors as well as ticketholders) would withdraw their support from the CSO! The funny part was, the new orchestra was actually designed to *increase* support for the big orchestra--it brings together CSO musicians and other local professionals, students, and community members in an educational setting. And it has succeeded in bringing in new audiences as more and more folks in the neighborhood come out to support their friends and neighbors and discover in the process that they like orchestral music. The community orchestra is able to reach out in ways the professional orchestra never could, but no one downtown recognized that.

“Meanwhile, tensions between the musicians of the Columbus Symphony and its board of directors crippled the organization and forced it to shut down for six months. The board wanted to decrease the number of full-time musicians in order to save money, not realizing the devastating effects this would have on the quality of the orchestra and the musical community at large.

“Unfortunately, this kind of myopia seems to be rampant. Most symphonies are still run on business models established in the nineteenth century--and they didn't work so well then, either! The problem is that the necessity of donors, endowments, and corporate sponsorship--as ticket sales can never generate enough revenue to fairly compensate the 75 or so highly skilled, highly trained workers on stage--brings in board members who know a lot about money, but nothing about music. (The board president who nearly killed the CSO was a trial lawyer specializing in business litigation.) Many boards/administrations seem to think that there is only one pie and they need to get their slice, instead of recognizing that music actually thrives best where lots of musicmaking is taking place. They should be baking all kinds of new pies with all kinds of different people! It sounds to me like the Huntington Symphony is missing out on a huge opportunity here to grow their audience through cross-promotional efforts. If it makes you feel better, I have several friends and colleagues who regularly play with the HSO, and I'm sure they will be horrified when I tell them about this!”

April 19, 2009: The spring of 2009 brought devastating news for Charlie: his mom was diagnosed with terminal cancer and had but months to live. Joe Dobbs and the other founding members of The Flood all knew Peggy -- she had been at all those grand parties int he 1970s and '80s when the band was forming -- and when he heard the news, Joe immediately said, "I want to play for her." So on a sunny Sunday in April, Joe and our friend Zoe Brewer drove into Millville, Ohio, near Cincinnati, by way of Lexington; Charlie and Pamela were already there and Charlie's cousin, Kathy Castner, drove over from Hamilton to sing with them. Here, from video shot by Pamela that day, are eight minutes from the bittersweet afternoon in Peggy's living room. It would be the last time Joe saw her; Peggy passed away a little more than a hundred days after that day.

 

April 22, 2009: As we were getting ready to play our 10th “jug band breakfast” at Huntington’s great Coon Sanders Nighthawks Reunion bash, The Flood started digging out and dusting off its oldest tunes.

One was the only tune ever known to be written by the jazz legend Charles “Buddy” Bolden — also known as King Bolden — a New Orleans trumpet player who influenced the first generation of jazzmen in the early years of the 20th century. We have no recordings of Bolden himself, but the famed Jelly Roll Morton called him “the most powerful trumpet player I’ve ever heard.” Bolden called his song “Funky Butt,” but Jelly Roll later recorded it with the opening line, “I thought I heard Buddy Bolden say,” and it has come down to us as “Buddy Bolden Blues.” Jelly Roll was the only person recording the tune who’d actually heard Buddy play it. (The Flood learned its version of the song from a 1961 Folkways recording by bluesmen Rolf Cahn and Eric von Schmidt.)

Also on this video are other tunes we rehearsed for the Coon Sanders gathering, including the 1923 Jimmy Cox composition, “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out,” which Bessie Smith made famous, and Lonnie Johnson’s 1942 tune, “Jelly Roll Baker.” But we didn’t focus only on old jazz and blues on that April night. Jammed in the middle of jazz is some funky folk, including our take on Hazel Dickens’ classic hymn to her native Mountain State, “West Virginia, My Home” and The Flood’s own, patent-pending, arrangement of the old Appalachian folk song, “Pretty Polly.” Fun night.

 

Still want more from that extraordinary April evening? Click here for a video of Floodster Emeritus Chuck Romine and Brother Peyton's washboard wizardry killin' it on "Coney Island Washboard Roundelay."

May 2, 2009: Our friend British fiddler/singer Mike Smith sat in with us to play the spring festival at Heritage Farm and Village Museum. "A good time, despite a cold spring rain," Charlie tol his cousin Kathy in an email. "We had a nice turnout -- along with Mike Smith, we had Jacob, Dave, Doug, Michelle and me, and, a bit later, Joe showed up for the final hour. And the group sounded great. We played for two hours, then around noon, broke it down and headed home."

May 16, 2009: We were back at the Coon Sanders Nighthawks Reunion Bash for our 10th "jugband breakfast" session. This time "Doctor Jazz" himself, Chuck Romine, sat in with us again, just like old times. It was a fun mix of old tunes, new tunes and, of course, kazoos. Here's a quartet of tunes from the morning. ("Stealin'," "Hello, Central, Gimme Dr. Jazz," "Coney Island Washboard Roundelay," "4th Street Mess Around," May 16, 2009)

CS 2009

STORIES:

-- Doctor Jazz Returns. Chuck Romine rejoins his old compadres on stage and gets the respect he expected.

-- The Music Stands. Dale Jones comments on the band's snazzy new music stands ... and finds out how we use them.

-- Shirley Trip to the Dark Side. How Sam's song corrupted Shirley Davis.

-- Dale Jones Reminisces. At a spring 2010 fundraiser, Dale Jones reflected on 10 years of Floodishness at the Coon Sanders bashes.

JOKES:

-- There was this fellow who wanted to meet these young ladies in a bar ...

-- This woman went to the grocery store...

June 10, 2009: Norman and Shirley Davis had been in the band's circle for only four months, but they already were confirmed Flood addicts, regularly attending shows, like the Coon-Sanders jug band breakfast and claiming their favorite corner of the Bowen house for the weekly rehearsals. By late spring, they were ready to introduce their daytime friends to the new nighttime music obsession, so they called in their friends and neighbors and invited the whole Flood crew to hold a jam session in the living room for their gorgeous home on Davis Creek Road. It was a rainy, chilly evening, but that didn't stop the entire band from showing up, along with many of their friends and spouses.

Norman and Shirley Davis house

The venue was amazing. The original part of the house was Norman's grandfather’s, in the middle of his farm. There were houses nearby, but it’s still “out there,” with a creek and woods behind the house. The house itself was designed by Norman, a Renaissance man and something of an architect. He wanted to prove it was possible to build a house with salvaged materials, and this was way before “recycling” was even thought of. One wall of their bedroom was an apartment house floor. One wall was stones he collected from the creek. Their living room floor was poured concrete, stained and scored so that it looked like stone. They had a huge ancient stove from a Boy Scout camp, a door that looked like it came from a school and much more. There were no doors -- you could walk from the kitchen to the living room to the bedroom to a study and into the kitchen in a circular pattern. There were huge windows at the back of the house so you could see the creek and woods, and there were no curtains on the huge bathroom windows. It was like jamming in a fascinating museum.

The newcomers whom the Davises introduced that night to all things Flood had a ball and the conversation beteeen tunes ranged all over the topical spectrum. For instance, at one point, one of the Flood neophytes commented that we could have an old-fashioned tent revival in that living room, a remark that inspired (as it were) Dave and Charlie to reach back for some rollicking religion-y tunes they used to do with Rog, Joe and Bill Hoke back at the 1970s music parties where The Flood was born, including these which you can hear with a click! ("Samson and Delilah," "Gospel" and "Call Him Up," June 10, 2009). As you'll hear, by the end of the third tunes, one of the party-goers had found a makeshift "snake" to make appearance, not, as he says, for The Rapture, but "The Rupture." Fun night.

June 11, 2009: Floodsters Dave Ball and Sam St. Clair collaborate on a funny video of Bub's original composition “Palm Beach Blues (Even the Rich Guys are Singing the Blues,” which we posted on our website today. Here's this oh-so-timely tune:

 

June 27, 2009: Flood Lite (Joe, Doug and Charlie) played a garden party at gig Staige and Sharon Davis’s house in the southern hills of Huntington. "We were playing swing tunes for background music as the guest started arriving," Charlie told his mom in an email.

2009-june

"It was outdoors, but Staige and Sharon had been very considerate, planning where they were going to set us up. They had us in the shade of the trees where there was a great breeze and even had a coupla fans on us, so we were quite comfortable. We DanTroutplayed two solid 45-minute sets for the folks coming and going and they really seemed to enjoy it. Nice gig.”

July 8, 2009: Percussionist Dan Trout drove down from Athens, Ohio, to sit in for the evening on a Cuban box drum called a cajón. Take a listen to his solo on the next day's podcast.

Aug. 9, 2009: Dave Para and Cathy Barton attend the jam session. "We had a nice visit with our friends Dave and Cathy, musicians buddies from Missouri who stayed with us last night on their way home from a week-long gig in Elkins, WV," Charlie told his mom in am email. "We took them to Miz Rose's house last night where we had a fantastic dinner and then, afterwards, Dave and Cathy played for the folks for more than an hour. It was wonderful. This morning, we made breakfast for them and got them on the road.”

Sept. 12, 2009: The group played their annual mini-gig at the Fraley Festival at Carter Caves. "There are people I see only once a year, right there," Charlie told his cousin Kathy in an email. "Dave and I started out visiting the campground, where Bub and Sam were spending the weekend. Then we headed over to meet up with Joe and Doug and jamming a bit in the parking lot before taking the stage. We always have fun at that little gig. Afterwards, Joe, Dave and I returned to the parking lot to play for another hour or so.”

Oct. 4, 2009: In Charleston, Flood Lite -- Dave, Joe, Doug and Charlie -- played for a group of rocket scientists. No really, a gathering of NASA engineers. It was mostly background music -- "'audible wallpaper,' we're calling it these days," Charlie told his cousin Kathy in an email. On a drive there, "we thought about making a slogan, "When You Think Space, Think The 1937 Flood!…." Maybe not. "Anyway," Charlie wrote. "What a gas! And they loved us. We did two hours of background music for them what they ate and drank and we had a good time. It was a easy gig, and good music."

Oct. 5, 2009: The guys were invited down to Huntington's Harris Riverfront park to again greet a beautiful riverboat, the Belle of Cincinnati, and her evening's passengers. The following video features The Flood's version of a great standard introduced by Louisville' Whistler's Jug Band back in the 1920s. (And the band has NO COMMENT on the police car in the background of this video... As always, the less said the better...)


STORIES:

-- The Miniskirt. Joe recalls one of those rare moments in which was distracted while playing....

-- Jacob Gets a Haircut. The reaction is delayed but significant...


Oct. 15, 2009: The Flood launched into an especially busy period, playing three gigs in a week, including one show, one background music set and one wedding. The active week began with an invitation to play at an open house at the Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce's Business After Hours at The Cabell Huntington Convention &Visitors Bureau at Heritage Station downtown. A highlight was that our dear fiddlin’ friend Mike Smith sat in with us, as seen in this wonderful Tori Lavender photos from the evening.

Tori

Oct. 17, 2009: The band played a Saturday night wedding reception at the beautiful Frederick in downtown Huntington.

Oct. 19, 2009: The Flood continued a busy period of gigs in downtown Huntington, landing this time for a lovely evening performing as part of a Create West Virginia conference at “The Depot,” a now-defunct gift and Mountain State craft shop in the Morris Building on 4th Avenue. The show started with a classy set by Marshall University's elegant classical guitar ensemble, six student musicians who classed up the joint beautifully. Only after a half hour of such tastefulness did the crowd get a little edgy and eager for something a bit rowdier. That's when the Flood came on, more than ready to ramp up the rowdy. We opened with "Somebody Been Using That Thing,” followed by "Dead Cat on the Line" and thr place rocked. Our buddy Larry Kendall was on hand for some great pictures. Here's a sample.

Create

Oct. 28, 2009: Visiting from Abingdon, Va., Floodster Emeritus Bill Hoke jammed with the guys, featured in that week's podcast and in a video that Pamela show that night.

DaleNov. 10, 2009: Our dear friend Dale Jones -- leader of the Backyard Dixie Jazz Stompers and head man of the annual Coon Sanders Nighthawks Reunion bashes -- dropped by to jam with his tuba, putting the cut in our strut and the glide in our stride, as heard here on a subsequent podcast.

Nov. 19, 2009: The band played at the Renaissance Performing Arts Center as part of a benefit concert to help out with medical expenses for a long-time Flood buddy. The concert was a success, raising $1,700. Joe couldn't join us that night – he was on his way to Australia to visit Rod and Judy Jones – but we still had a healthy quorum for the gig. Below is a video from teh evening, with tasty solos by Jacob, Doug and Sam. Of course, the highlight is the video debut of young James St. Clair, standing in the front row and almost but not quite busting a few moves during his dad's harmonica solos. That was the same night, incidentally, when the lad told us that since he could now stand on his own two feet, we had to stop calling him as “Sweet Baby James.,” which we did. Sorta.

 

Want more? Here's a pair of tunes that closed The Flood's set, "Wade in the Water" and "Tear It Down," Nov. 19, 2009.)

Nov. 25, 2009: We sat back and appreciated the fact that improvisational acoustic music was in good hands, as demonstrated by a couple of teen-agers. Now to be honest, when our buddies Ervin and Susie Jones told us that matt-jacobtheir teen-aged grandson Matt would be visiting from New York City for Thanksgiving, that he had been taking guitar lessons and would love to sit in with us, we were all sure-that'd-be-great … but, uh, not really. After all, we had shoes older than this kid! Now, sure, we suddenly now had our own teen-ager in the band; 16-year-old Jacob Scarr, whom we called “Youngblood,” had been a full-fledged Floodster for eight months by then and anyone with ears knew that Jacob was killing it on his guitar solos and getting better by the minute, but surely, he said, Jacob was one-of-a-kind. And when the night of the visit came and we saw that Matt looked even younger than his 15 years, we were not encouraged. But then we had a happy surprise when Matt unpacked his guitar and we found that -- wow -- he, like Jacob, had serious chops. Over the next couple of hours, these two youngsters traded licks on one tune after another. Here’s a sample. Listen as they worked through an old David Bromberg standard. Sandwiched between the vocals, that's Jacob taking the first ride, then Doug cleans the palate with a tasty bass solo, after which Matt takes charge of the final chorus. Meanwhile, Matt's parents — Larry and Maria Parker — shot this video snippet to remember that fun evening.

 

Dec. 2, 2009: Flood tribal elder Joe Dobbs had just returned from three weeks in warm and sunny Australia, the guests of old friends Rod and Judy Jones, and this chilly Appalachian December night was his joyous reunion with his band mates. Here are two tunes from that session, our rendition of Michael Peter Smith's beautiful "The Dutchman" following my our Michael Lewis's lovely performance of "Blue Eyes Cryin' in the Rain."

 

Dec. 16, 2009: A beloved Flood fan -- the multitalented sculptor/author/painter Carter Taylor Seaton -- presented The Flood with an original creation for the band's rehearsal room at the Bowen House, a work she called "Guitar Buddha." Our buddy Larry Kendall, on hand for the weekly jam session that night, got these great pictures of the work.

Guitar Buddha

"Guitar Buddha" still holds down an important corner of the band room.

Dec. 22, 2009: Here's a Dave Peyton classic, his rendition of John Prine's "Come Back to Us, Barbara Lewis, Hare Krishna Beauregard, recorded at a Christmas time jam session at the Bowen House:

 

Dec. 29, 2009: We invited Flood fans to the Renaissance Ballroom at the old Huntington High School building in the South Side to be an audience for what we hoped would be our first live concert album. The show didn't work out as a CD – we just weren't happy with our playing that night (too much holiday cheer, perhaps?) – but we all had a good time visiting with friends and family, sharing tunes and stories. (It would be another half dozen years before we finally got our “Live, In Concert” CD, based on a show in early 2016.)

attempted CD

But that 2009 show did have a few nice highlights, such as Michelle's rendition here of “Glory of Love” (Dec. 29, 2009) with solos by Sam St. Clair and Jacob Scarr.

Meanwhile, for The Herald-Dispatch, writer Jean Tarbett Hardiman covered the event and filed this story, which includes a wonderful quote from our old buddy Dale Jones of the Backyard Dixie Jazz Stompers. "These guys are one of the best shows in town. ... They're certifiably nuts, but they put on such good show."


The 2010s

2010

Jan. 27, 2010: Despite a cold winter's night, Flood friends and family came out to face the new year together with laughs and tunes. Here are two blues from the evening. The first is Dave's rendition of "Furniture Man, "which he found on a 1929 recording by Dick Justice, a Logan County coal miner and a white blues singer who was heavily influenced by black musicians, especially Luke Jordan from the hills of neighboring Virginia. The second tune, "Suffer to Sing the Blues," comes from David Bromberg's debut album back in 1971.

   

Winter weather after that night led to weeks of Floodlessness.

Feb. 24, 2010: " Had a great time we had like night with the jam," Charlie told his cousin Kathy in an email. "Even though we had rather a lot of snow squalls blowing around, the roads didn't get icy and so everybody but Sam made it and we had a ball. You know…. you take folks who like each other this much and make 'em stay away from each other for nearly a month… well, when they finally do get back together, it's pretty neat!” Here's a tune from the evening, as reported on the next day's podcast.

March 7, 2010: The Flood performed at a benefit concert at the old Huntington High School's Renaissance Center, sharing the stage with Dale Jones and his Backyard Dixie Jazz Stompers. The Flood opened with an hour of tunes, then everybody ate a chili and cornbread dinner, after which, the dixieland ban took the stage.

March 7, 2010

"The place was almost full," Charlie told his cousin Kathy in an email, "so I think we helped raise a lot of money for the ARTS program there." At the concert, Charlie was talking to Randy Brown, who plays wonderful jazz guitar with Dale’s band, and invited him to the jam session and he quickly became a regular.

March 10, 2010: Jazz guitarist Randy Brown, who has been making music around our town for about a half century, stopped in for his first jam session with The Flood. Of course, we had been knowing Randy for decades as a beloved sidekick of Dale Jones and his Backyard Dixie Jazz Stompers. And Joe had know him even longer, for back with Randy was still in high school, he was a regular at the Dobbs brothers’ Fret ’n Fiddle music shop when it opened in the 1970s. But this was the first time Randy dropped by to sit in with us with his beautiful 1935 Gibson L-5 and he was immediately brought into the mix, as demonstrated below in this great 1930s jazz standard, "Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone."

 

March 17, 2010: In much of 2010 and 2011, The Flood's gatherings evolved from simple rehearsals to weekly jam sessions, with more and more visitors, some playing, some just listening. A regular at the sessions was guitarist Randy Brown, as on this recording of the Blind Blake tune, "Good as I Been to You," a song we had been playoing for about a year at this point. This is a lovely example of the Wednesday nights in those days:

 

March 22, 2010: Flood Lite (Joe, Doug and Charlie) played it regular annual afternoon gig at West Virginia Tech in Montgomery; haiku: “This was the fifth or sixth time Doug and I went to back up Joe for this thing," Charlie told his cousin Kathy in an email later. "We play an hour and half of mostly traditional music for W.Va. Tech's Appalachian studies class. In years past it's been in classrooms and that's fine, but this time they had us in a new concert area of the student center, with a stage and mikes and everything. And the crowd was wonderful -- they applauded, sang along, asked questions. And get this -- after the gig, about a half dozen of them came up after the show and asked for our autographs. Okay, that doesn't happen much. hehehe..."

STORIES:

-- Autograph Hunters! Joe talks about how the kids at West Virginia Tech asked for Flood Lite's autographs.


March 24, 2010: “Wow, the jam session was great," Charlie told his cousin Kathy in an email. "We actually had a pretty good crowd -- Jacob was there, and Doug and Joe and Sam and our new buddy, Randy Brown, the jazz guitarist. And, best of all, two of Jacob's friends from high school came again to hear him. I love it when that happens.” Here's a tune from the evening, reported on the next day's podcast.

March 31, 2010: “That was about the best jam session we've had in months," Charlie said in an email to his cousin Kathy. "What a cool evening. Everybody was in such a great mood -- spring in the air! -- and the music just flowed! I had such a good time, I didn't want it to end. And it almost didn't -- I didn't get folks out of there until almost midnight.” A tune from the evening is preserved on the next day's podcast.

April 17, 2010 – We flooded the newly renovated Alban Arts & Conference Center in Joe Dobbs' adopted home town of St. Albans, WV. It was an evening of folk and jug band songs, swing and fiddle tunes, along with some Albanlaughs and stories among old friends and special new ones. Here's audio of our opening number followed by Joe's brief welcome to the audience. Photographer Larry Kendall got some great shots that evening, as you see in this collage.

Our buddy singer-songwriter Doug Imbrogno opened the night with a solo set of original compositions and some innovative arrangements of traditional music. But we also have a special bittersweet memory of that evening: It was the night we met the beautiful, mysterious person we still call "The Hobo Girl." A 29-year-old vagabond named Patulla Williams – a young woman who travelled across the country with her dog Ashes, hopping from one train to another like a footloose wanderer from another era – had rambled into West Virginia the night before. Ambling into Joe's Fret 'n Fiddle music store the next morning, she happened to meet singer Jim Snyder who would be hosting The Flood show at the Alban theater that weekend, and Jim invited her to the concert. Backstage that evening, Patulla visited with The Floodsters and instantly won everybody's heart with her brilliant smile and with her stories from the road, where her friends called her "Hermit." We were, each of us, enchanted. Then she went on stage with Jim to share some of her own tunes with a wowed audience. After that night we n ever saw Patulla Williams again. In a few days, she hopped another train and was gone again, saying she was heading west maybe, Nebraska, maybe. Eight months later she was found dead in a jail cell in Texas, where she had been taken after being caught illegally riding another train. Controversy still surrounds the details of her lonesome death. At least it was a happier story for Patulla Williams in St. Albans that April night in 2010. Here's a different perspective on the young wanderer's life. A week or so before she came to West Virginia, Williams was in Winston-Salem, NC, where she and Ashes caught the eye of filmmaker Martin Tucker,who spent the day with her. Linked at right is the trailer for Tucker's 22-minutedocumentary film called, “Patty: This is My Normal.”

This evening was also featured in an entry in Flood Watch, which you can see right here.

Dale Jones

April 28, 2010: It was just a goofy night at the Flood jam session. Spring in the air, perhaps, and seeing old friends after a seemingly endless winter. Coming out to sit in with us at the weekly jam session were Chuck Romine on banjo and Randy Brown on guitar and Dale Jones, leader of the Backyard Dixie Jazz Stompers, brought his trombone. And hands down, the highlight of the evening was when Dale used his trombone mute as make-shift megaphone to do his best Rudy Vallee imitation, which would be featured on that week's podcast. And we would have Dale reprise that rare Muted Jones performance at that year's "jug band breakfast" at Coon Sanders.

May 1, 2010: A small Flood contingent -- David, Doug, Michelle and Charlie -- played the annual spring festival at Heritage Farm and Village Museum, picking for a few hours on one of the front porches. Very nice morning.

May 10, 2010: Doug and Charlie launched some weekly informal picking sessions at the Chaffin house in Ashland with the hidden agenda of getting Floodster Emeritus Stew Schneider playing music again. As Charlie told his cousin Kathy in an email, "Stewart's not been playing much anymore, since the leader of his band (called "Foot in the Air") died a few years Stewartback. That's a shame, 'cuz Stew's a good musician. So Doug and I have established a little 'outreach' program to get Stewart back into the music." And following the first Monday night session, Charlie wrote, “Had a great little evening of music last night. I got to Doug's about 7 and Stewart came about 10 minutes later and we played for the next 2 1/2 hours. Good times. Stew was a little rusty, but there were some real good moments and we're going to do it again next week. I'd really like for this to become a regular thing.” The sessions would coninue more or less weekly for the next decade. Early on, Randy Hamilton, who would later join The Flood, sat in with Doug, Stew and Charlie for these Monday night sessions. Here's a tune from later that year, with Doug on fiddle, Randy on bass, Stew on harmonica and Charlie on guitar and vocals. ("Golden Apples of the Sun," Dec. 27, 2010.)

May 11, 2010: We didn’t get to enjoy Bob McCoy’s companionship nearly long enough — we knew him for only about five years — but he had an enormous impact on us. The perpetually smiling Floridan was the embodiment of a truth all good musicians know: that in the room where music happens, devoted listeners are as an important element as the players themselves. Bob couldn’t jam with us — he was only starting to learn guitar at the time of his spring 2010 death — but, beginning in 2006, he and his wife, JoAnn, were often in the room for the weekly Flood jam sessions, sharing jokes and stories, smiling at our progress on their favorite tunes.

Bob McCoyAnd the pair was on hand for some important Flood events. For instance, they were there on the October evening in 2007 when young Jacob Scarr first started jamming with us, wowing everyone with ears that night. “You guys've got to really try to hold on to him,” Bob whispered with a wink as he and JoAnn left that evening. They returned a week later, happy to see we obviously agreed. (Jacob would play with the band until his departure for college in 2011.) Bob was also there in May 2008 the first time we started recording the weekly jam sessions, using our new ZOOM digital recorder, a technology that would enable us to launch our weekly podcasts later that year. One of the first podcast listeners was Bob when he and JoAnn returned to Florida that December. “Great!” he said. “Now we’ll have some Flood music to see us through the winter.” (A little over a year later, we'd be dedicating a podcast to Bob himself, featuring one of his favorites, Tom Paxton's "Ramblin' Boy.")

Sure, they couldn’t attend as often as they liked — they lived half the year in St. Cloud, FL, south of Orlando, coming north to escape the heat — but they came as often as they could, sometimes even challenging traffic regulations to make it to the room before the music started. For instance, for what would turn out to be one of the last sessions Bob ever attended — Oct. 21, 2009 — he and JoAnn drove straight through from Columbia, SC, just to be there. And it just so happened that our photographer friend Larry Kendall took a picture that night that captures Bob relaxing in the big blue chair as the music plays all around him.

While an Ohioan born and bred, Bob always was more attuned to the sand and the sea. He loved Florida and Hawaii, and the McCoys took the Bowens to see some of his favorite sites in both states. Bob also celebrated his Buddhist inclinations. Another memorable trip the two couples took was to Bloomington, IN, to attend four days of teachings by the Dalai Lama. After that, Bob added to his Facebook page a cherished quote from the Buddha, one that resonates especially with us now: “Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”

Bob was just 66 when he died of a heart attack on May 11, 2010, in Ashland, Ky. He and JoAnn had just returned from St. Cloud and were looking forward to seeing their Flood family the next night after a long winter’s absence. We miss you, Bob. Mahalo nui, buddy.

May 15, 2010: Jazzman Dale Jones finally got fully Floodified! Over the years, Dale has played many parts in The Flood story. In late 1990s, our friend occasionally brought his tuba to sit in with Joe, Dave and Charlie at home and at early gigs. At the beginning of the 21st century, Dale also started inviting the guys to perform a “jug band breakfast” at the great annual trad-jazz Coon-Sanders Nighthawks Fan Bash Reunion, a gig that became a beloved yearly event for us for more than a decade. Dale also got The Flood regularly playing the Renaissance Ballroom at the old Huntington High School building throughout the 2000s, often sharing the stage with his own rocking band, the Dixie Backyard Jazz Stompers.

After more than 15 years of such fun, fellowship and foolishness, we figured it was high time we made Dale an honorary (or, as we pronounce it in Floodspeak, an “ornery”) Floodster, complete with certificate and his own blue kazoo, and we could think of no better venue for bestowing such a high award than at a Coon-Sanders breakfast.

But first, we wanted Dale to work for it a little. As you can see in this video, recorded live at the May 2010 bash, Dale does triple duty on this rendering of “All of Me,” first with a vocal solo through his trombone mute for a Rudy Vallée effect, then on his cornet (rising to the challenge of the not-so-cornet-friendly key of G), then wrapping it up singing a duet chorus with Chick Singer Michelle Lewis. After all that that, Michelle was happy to present the certificate.

 

May 26, 2010: Pam Hayes Williams with her husband, Mark, attended their first Flood jam, along with Nancy McClellan. “We had a very nice jam session," Charlie emailed his cousin Kathy. "Had a house full -- including people I went to high school with 40 years ago.” Here, from the weekly podcast, is a tune from the evening.

Meanwhile, Doug Chaffin was still teaching us "Ook Pik Waltz" in the spring of 2010 when Pam and Mark shot this video on her phone of Doug switching to Dave Ball's guitar to walk us through a song that would become a regular Flood waltz over the next decade.

 

 

June 2, 2010: “Sure wish you coulda spent the evening here," Charlie wrote his cousin Kathy in an email. "What a neat jam session we had. Everybody was on -- the whole band plus Michelle -- and we just rocked all evening. It's so much fun, especially when everybody's in such a good mood. And my gawd, but we had a houseful. Had to get extra chairs from upstairs to accommodate all the visitors, including folks from Florida, children and grandchildren of regulars, even a couple of little kids. One regular's little grade-school age daughter -- a shy little girl named Ada -- is just entranced by the band and literally counts the days until she and her mom can come back. We give Ada a seat up in the middle of the band and she watches and listens to everything. It's so cute.” From the podcast, here's a tune from the evening.

June 16, 2010: Local harmonicat Jim Rumbaugh’ took in his very first weekly Flood jam session and wowwed everyone in the room. And it was quite a roomful, nearly two dozen folks on hand to listen, Charlie told his cousin Kathy in a later email.

Jim R"Funny," he wrote, "but I was sorta not really looking forward to this one, because we had a lot of people missing it -- Jacob, Sam, Michelle, Bub -- they were all gone. Bur we had original four -- Dave, Joe, Doug and me -- and

then are sitters-in: Mike Smith the fiddler, Randy Brown, the jazz guitar player, and lawd, we rocked! And Jim, the new harmonica player, showd up and he just jazzed everybody all over again. And lots of listeners, some from as far away as New York."

Jim,w ho has become a beloved Flood friend who has sat in with us many times over the years, even made the Flood podcast the next day.

Also, Jim's many sessions with us over the years were the subject on one of our "Pajama Jam" films in spring 2020. Here it is:



June 19, 2010
: The band plays for the reunion of Huntington High's Class of ‘52 reunion, ";a busy, busy day," Charlie told his cousin Kathy in a later email, "and boy, did those folks party! ... It was fun playing, the guys sounded great and we made some nice money.”

June 30, 2010: Floodster Emeritus Bill Hoke, on his way to Dayton to visit his father, spent the night at the Bowens’ and jammed with the band, along with fellow former Floodster Stew Schneider, and the evening was commemorated on that week's podcast.

July 3, 2010: The Flood helped Huntington’s historic Guyandotte section kick off its bicentennial celebration by donating a set of tunes under its big top on Main Street. It was a special treat for the Family Flood to part of “Guyandotte Days,” a four-day celebration that included a parade, exhibits, music and games, all with an emphasis on the area’s 200-year history. Honestly, because it was such a hot, lazy Saturday afternoon, we were surprised but, of course, pleased to find the tent filling up when we arrived to begin the show.

Guyandotte DAys

Best of all, two of our favorite fans -- 8-year-old Ada Marie Perry and her mom, Jeanetta -- were in the front row. “Our pleasure,” Jeanetta told us later on Facebook. “Ada wanted to come and was upset when she found out it was only going to last an hour. :)”

For months now, the Perrys had been coming to the Bowen house for the weekly jam sessions, initially perhaps mainly to hear Ada’s Uncle Mike Smith playing duets with Joe Dobbs, but then got hooked for the jug band stuff. Yeah, as they say, come for the fiddles, stay for the Floodishness. (Okay, well, nobody really says that...)

Meanwhile, Flood manager Pamela Bowen has her own Ada memories. In her journal that month, Pamela noted that Ada usually sat up close to the band at the jam session, "across from Charlie, and watches all the musicians with great interest. She usually sits between Bub and the chick singer, but one week neither were there, so she was too shy to go into the music room, and sat back on the sofa with her mother.

"I was also sitting there, reading the news on my iPad," Pamela wrote. "The kid was watching me, so I started playing Solitaire, and asked if she knew how to play. She didn’t, so I taught her, and after a few hands, she won -- and got to see all the cards fall and the fireworks. I switched to another game and she mastered it. Her mother mentioned that she’d just gotten tickets to Gogol Bordello, a Gypsy punk band that the kid loves (which partly explains her interest in the Flood), so the kid asked if I had YouTube on the iPad. Yes, but I’d never used it. The kid found it and figured out how to search for the band, to show me, but there wasn’t sound. I looked on the side of the machine for the sound button but couldn’t figure out which it was or how to work it, but the kid did. The girl had never used an iPad before. So it’s true, as the TV ads say: 'You already know how to use it.'”

July 10, 2010: We spent a pleasant Saturday evening playing background music for a lawn party at century-old house in Huntington’s southern hills. The venue was the home of beloved local educator Elinore Dannenberg Taylor. The occasion was a family reunion organized by Elinore’s favorite niece — and a much loved Flood fan — Carter Taylor Seaton. Our only problem with the job was a logistical one: while the site was only 10 minutes from the ElinoreBowen house in Huntington’s South Side, there was limited parking space beside Elinore’s beautiful hillside home, so we had to work out some carpooling. But once we got there, everyone was in a good mood and the lawn rocks.

Elinore, 80 at the time of the reunion, had many intersections with Floodsters and their fans. She was an English professor at Marshall University for more than 20 years. She served on the boards of the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition (OVEC,) the League of Women Voters and the NAACP. She wrote two plays which saw production: “They'll Cut Off Your Project,” an adaptation of the book by Huey Perry, which was also filmed and shown on WV Public Television; and “Appalachian Spring Postponed.” Both were produced and staged at Marshall University, the former through a grant from the West Virginia Humanities Council, and the latter through the auspices of the Marshall Women's Center. She stayed active in playwriting, politics and family right off until the end, which came in January 2014.

Aug. 6, 2010: The Family Flood returned to Fairmont, WV, for another fun evening at the amphitheater at Prickett's Fort State Park. This time we had our dear friends Cathy Barton and Dave Para in tow to be featured guest artists at the show. And Dave even helped out on running the sound system that evening.

Fiar 2010

We captured a bit of video from the show -- here's "Somebody Been Using That Thing" -- and then later in the month, Cathy and Dave returned to sit in with us at our weekly jam session and were featured on the podcast. Meanwhile, in spring 2020 we included those sessions with Cathy and Dave in our "Pajama Jams" series. You can view the film below:




Sept. 11, 2010: After playing the annual Fraley Festival at Carter Caves, Charlie emailed his cousin Kathy that "the weather wasn't very nice -- we had a big rain on the way there, and then drizzle when we took the stage, but it worked out fine.”

Sept. 25, 2010: As a favor to Charlie’s cousin Kathy, Joe and Charlie traveled to Cincinnati to play for the wedding of her eldest child, Andy Dronberger. While there was so much to make that night memorable — perfect weather, an amazing forested setting where Japanese lamps glowed in the trees after dark, making it all look like a scene from a movie — in Flood lore the evening was notable for being one of the few occasions at which these two comrades appeared in matching getups: blue blazers, tan pants and — whoa! — are those TIES?

2010-AndysWedding

We were even still talking about the wedding a week later, as evidenced in the next podcast.

Sept. 29, 2010: "Good jam session last night -- lots of fun and laughs and good music," Charlie told his cousin Kathy in an email. "One of the highlights was talking about the wedding and that led to Joe playing 'The Ash Grove' again, the piece we did for the bride's entrance and the recessional at the wedding. It came out especially well and I'll be using it for this week's podcast.”

Oct. 6, 2010: Floodster Emeritus Stew Schneider brought fiddler Ron Eldridge to jam with The Flood, featured on the next episode of the weekly Flood podcast.

Nov. 24, 2010: Twenty-seven people in one room. Pamela comes in with a baggie of kazoos. Orchestrated chaos ensues. It was the night before Thanksgiving and the crowd included friends coming from as far away as New York and Washington and as near as across town and from down around the block. With this bunch, well, there's always something to be thankful for.

2010-thanskgiving

Here's a tune from the evening, saved on the weekly podcast.

Dec. 4, 2010: We never understood why folks always wanted to book Joe for gigs around Christmastime. We figured it might have been his unparalleled ability to lay his finger aside of his nose. Or it could have something to do with his having his own extensive collection of Santa hats. For whatever reason, Flood VERY Light (that is, just Joe and Charlie) were booked to do a Christmas show along with guitarist Robin Kessinger and one of his students at Huntington’s Heritage Village and Farm Museum. It was a picturesque afternoon. We played inside the village’s beautiful little log church, where The Flood has played often over the years, and just as the music started, so did the snow.

heritage

 

Dec. 25, 2010: In an email to Charlie on Christmas afternoon, Roger Samples lets us know that the doctor found a tumor on his lung. "A few days before Christmas," Charlie told his cousin Kathy later, "I'd given him a call to see how he was doing, and Rogerhe mentioned that he'd had a persistent cough for a few months and was going to the doctor about it. Well, on Christmas afternoon, He wrote me on Facebook to say, 'The news from all my tests was not good. Looks like I have a tumor in my left lung.'

"Well, I dropped everything and called him and we chatted for an half hour or so and he sounded much more upbeat on the phone than he did in email. He's got another visit with doctors next week for further pix. Says the tumor is a little over 5 cm. The family doctor is upset with himself for not catching it sooner, but he and Rog were assuming that the cough was just allergies. The tumor appears to be in the same location as that thing that turned to be a 'spot' 20 years when Dave Peyton hooked him up with the specialist at St. Mary's, so he's got a little hope that this could turn out to be the same thing. But the doctor tells him not to expect that, noting for one thing that the spot 20 years ago was half this size.

"All in all, I was pleasantly surprised that he was not doom and gloom, at least not when we talked. He also said he'd like to get us all there for some picking. 'If it turns out I got to lose a lung," he told me, 'I would like to get some songs sung first..."”

Dec. 31, 2010: Joe, David, Doug and Charlie played the Nancy McClellan’s New Year’s Eve party in Ashland,

2011

Jan. 5, 2011: Weeks after the discovery of his lung tumor, Roger calls during the jam session "and I passed the phone around to some of the other Floodsters who wanted to say hey," Charlie told his cousin Kathy in a later email. "Ourold buddy's had a pretty rough time of it. His lung collapsed during the procedure to get the biopsy. That meant a couple of nights in the hospital as the got the lung back up and functioning. Well, Rog has always had trouble with a tolerance for pain medication and this visit was especially bad for that -- he had awful reactions to everything they tried to give him for the pain -- and they finally had to simply stop the procedure. But fortunately they did get a good sample for the biopsy and at least Rog should be able to go home today.” Two days later we learned that the worst, that the lung problem was indeed cancer.

Jan. 22, 2011: The Flood originals – Joe, Dave and Charlie – traveled to Mount Sterling, Ky., for a warm and wonderful afternoon of music and stories with their dear companion and co-founder Roger Samples. It was a bittersweet reunion. A month earlier Rog told of us of his critical diagnosis: his doctor found evidence of lung cancer. Despite bitter cold weather, two dozen friends and family came in from three states to gather around the roaring fire that Roger and Tammy had built in the living room fireplace. Gathering with the Samples Brothers – Mack and Ted – fiddler Buddy Griffin, John Preston and others, the music continued all day. The whole day was exactly what Roger needed. He started his treatment at Lexington’s Markey Center the following week.

This magical day also was featured in this entry in Flood Watch.

Here’s a video from that memorable afternoon.



And in the spring in 2020, we celebrated this wonderful day in an hour-long Samples-oriented "Pajama Jam" video, which you can see below.

Feb. 11, 2011: Roger Samples started chemo. "He'll have a treatment every day until next Wednesday, then have a three-week break from that for the next round," Charlie told his cousin Kathy in an email. ". Meanwhile, the five-day-a-week radiation starts on Monday. Whew.”

Feb. 16, 2011: “Wow, the music was great last night," Charlie said in an email to Kathy, his cousin. "Yes, we had a wonderful turnout -- first time we'd seen Joe in, like, a month. And he had the best line of the evening. When someone said, 'Good to see Jesse Smithyou again!" Joe said, "Well, better to be seen than viewed.'” Here's a bit of Joe's fiddling from the night.

March 2, 2011: Guitarist Jesse Smith jammed with the band for the first time. "Wow, what a picker, and a great guy!" Charlie told his cousin Kathy in an email. "We had a ball. And I guess I should be flattered that I couldn't get them to go homeat the end of the evening…. it was midnight before I got to bed!" Jesse's visit would be reported in that week's podcast.

March 9, 2011: We moved our weekly Flood rehearsal from the Bowen Bower to the clubhouse at the Wyngate retirement village where Flood fans Norman and Shirley Davis had just moved. Norm and Shirley were longtime classical and opera music fans before Rose Riter introduced them to the Flood’s peculiar genre two years earlier, and after that they rarely missed their weekly Flood fix. Shirley, in mid-90s and and Norm, in his mid 80s, were two of the most interesting and intelligent people we ever met. The clubhouse was very nice, with wonderful acoustics. We arrived early but Norm had already rearranged the furniture. For the fun evening, about 30 of the Davises' new neighbors in the audience, among them Jacob's grandparents who were also new residents. Pamela shot video of the evening with her new FlipVideo camera.

   
   
 

March 17, 2011: The Flood celebrated St. Patrick’s Day at the city’s first “Party on the Patio” event of the year at the gazebo at Heritage Station downtown. Here’s a video of the band’s show that afternoon, with Joe Dobbs tearing it up with his "Miss McLeod's Reel" for the dancers on the patio below the bandstand.

 That show was part of the band’s long-time relationship with that particular downtown Huntington venue. In fact, 35 years earlier, The Flood’s Joe Dobbs, Charlie Bowen and Bill Hoke played at the dedication of gazebo when Heritage Station — the converted B&O railway depot — opened for business.

Joe later moved his Fret ’n Fiddle music store from West 14th Street to Heritage Station, where it stayed until the move to its current location in St. Albans, WV, in the mid-1980s.

More recently, The Flood has been happy to return to Heritage Station often. In fact, the photo on the cover of our latest CD, "Live, In Concert," was taken in the beautiful lobby of old depot.

March 24, 2011: As Rog started another round of four-day chemo treatments, he was on a roller coaster of bad days and good days. When the good days came, we tried to find ways to play music together. He had also just finished a round of radiation treatments. Earlier in the week, he met with doctors and "both said I was doing well," Roger said. "I'd hate to be doing badly if this is well. I guess I should not complain, because so far, I'm able to get around and I am eating well.  Some I see there are not doing as well."

At Rog's

Anyway, on this particular day — a good one, as it happened — Joe and Charlie hit the road to Roger and Tammy’s Mt. Sterling, Ky., home to join fiddler Buddy Griffin (who also brought a banjo) and Rog’s brother Mack for an afternoon of picking, story swapping and general good times. Here’s a 12-minute track from the day, with four tunes the group played (including “Uncle Pen,” “My Clinch Mountain Home,” “Beans Taste Fine,” “Sally Ann,” March 24, 2011). For a couple more tunes from the day (“Spoon River” and “Rag Mama”), check out the March 25, 2011, podcast.

Meanwhile, Rog wrote that same week that he had come up with a new tune, "Lawed, Lawed. got them chemo blues," he wrote on his blog. "I said, Lawed, Lawed got them chemo blues. from the top of my bald head to the bottom of my dragging shoes."  He’d later play it for his Flood family for a February 2012 edition of the podcast.

April 13, 2011: Singer Nerf Brown jammed with the band and made that week's podcast.

April 20, 2011: Fiddler Susan Statton jammed with the guys and made the podcast.

April 30, 2011: With Susie and Dave Peyton, Charlie travels to Mt. Sterling, Ky., to spend the day with Rog and Tammy Samples and their daughter Cathleen. "What a great day it was!" Charlie wrote his mom later. "Rog was in a great mood, feeling good and talked and laughed, remembered and made music. I think it was just what he needed. I know it was what I needed!"

May 4, 2011: Drummer John Preston Smith begins jamming with the band.

May 14, 2011: Chuck (“Dr. Jazz”) Romine joined us on stage at the wonderful old Coon Sanders Nighthawks Reunion Bash in Huntington. Since the spring of 2000, at the invitation of C-S organizer Dale Jones, The Flood had been playing the breakfast session of the annual national gathering of traditional jazz fans. Chuck’s affiliation with the group pre-dated that — he’d been a Coon Sanders enthusiast for decades — and once he joined The Flood in 2001, Chuck was a regular presence at what Dale liked to present as the Saturday morning “Jug Band Breakfast.” By 2011, Chuck had been retired from his regular Floodishness for five years or so, but he still sat in with us often, especially at Coon Sanders. In this video, Bowen tells a little of the history of Chuck’s time with the band, then turns it over to Romine and his tenor guitar for his signature tune, “Hello, Central, Gimme Dr. Jazz.”

 

On sad note, we didn’t know it at the time, but the Coon Sanders reunion’s time in Huntington was coming to an end. There would be one more gathering in May 2012; The Flood would play its breakfast session as always, but Chuck couldn’t sit in for that one, so the above video represents Chuck's last Coon Sanders performance with The Flood. After 2012, the curtain came down on the C-S bashes.

Meanwhile, here are a couple more videos from the 2011 show, including Dave's rendering of "Moonshine in Those West Virginia Hills" (a Dale Jones request) and a portion of "Somebody Been Using That Thing."

   

STORIES:

-- The Flood's Coon Sanders Contribution. Coon Sanders chief Dale Jones told us how much he appreciated The Flood's role in the annual.

June 8, 2011: Jacob Scarr had finished high school and would be heading off to college in Colorado at end of the summer. To celebrate the four years that “Youngblood” had been playing with us, his parents, Tom and P.J. Scarr, arranged a party in the front yard of their home in the Timberlake area of Huntington, and the entire extended Flood family arrived to pick for the friends and neighbors throughout the night.

jacob

Here are a couple of the previously unpublished videos from the evening.Honestly, not the greatest of the audio quality, but they do capture a bit of the party atmosphere:

   

After college and law school in Boulder, Jacob makes his home in Colorado these days, but he still gets back to Huntington time to time, and when he does we try to get him by for a good, old-fashioned jam session. In the spring in 2020, we celebrated some of these get-together in a Jacob-oriented "Pajama Jam" video, which you an see here.

June 11, 2011: The Family Flood traveled to Mount Sterling, Ky., that Saturday and spent the afternoon after Tammy andRoger Samples’ house. Six months into his cancer treatments, Rogerhe had just gotten a great report and his hair was even growing back in, so we were all pretty upbeat that day

That evening, The Flood and The Samples Brothers Band headed over into the downtown Mount Sterline to do a benefit concert to raise funds for the local arts center, a former church, that the Samples had been actively working to supported.

The acoustics weren’t the greatest, but we still had a wonderful show and a fun time. Here are a couple of tunes from The Flood set that evening, starting with Roger's introduction of the band before the set (“Georgie Buck” and “Somebody Been Using That Thing,” June 11, 2011.)

Alas, we didn’t keep the recorder going long enough to catch the last number of the evening, when Roger did a solo performance of “In My Life.” (“There are people I’ll remember all my life....”) Needless to say, there were many tears.

June 15, 2011: Singer Rob McNurlin sang with the band and made the podcast.

June 29, 2011: Rog Samples drove in from Mount Sterling to jam with the band, and, "Wow, what an evening it was!" Charlie told his mom in an email. "Rog arrived here about 3 and Pamela and I took him to dinner. Then we got back and people just kept arriving. We must have had 25 people here. Fun night.” And of course, it became the centerpiece for that week's podcast.

July 3, 2011: David, Joe, Doug and Charlie played a party at Rose Riter's house.

July 20, 2011: When phenomenal guitarist Jesse Smith met fiddlin’ Joe Dobbs in the mid-2000s, they both seemed to say in unison, “Where have you been all my life?!” Those of us who had known Joe for most of our lives immediately heard it, the uncanny musical affinity between these two. “They just think alike,” Doug Chaffin liked to say. Jesse and Joe traveled together to festivals and competitions near and far. (It is a tradition that Jesse continues today. In fact, Joe would be so pleased to know that just last year, at 70, Jesse took first place in the prestigious Wayne Henderson Festival in Wilson, Va.) So, July 20, 2011, was destined to be a special evening in the summer of 2011 when Jesse came down from his home in Wadsworth, Ohio, near Akron, to sit in with us.

 

The whole band couldn’t be on hand — it being summer, about half the Family Flood had other commitments that night (vacations, birthday parties and do on) but we managed to assemble a solid supporting cast for Jesse’s visit augmenting Flood Lite (Joe, Doug and Charlie) with two other players: John Preston Smith on drum and Randy Brown who brought his tenor banjo rather than his usual guitar for the occasion. It was a magical, eclectic evening. Jesse made everything sing on tunes ranging from swing pieces (“Dinah” and “My Blue Heaven”) to folk songs (“Alberta” and “Ash Grove”) to fingerpicking showcases (“Little Rock Getaway” and “Cannonball Rag.”)

July 27, 2011: “The music last night was sweet!" Charlie told his cousin Kathy in an email. "We had about two dozen folks here. And one our neighbor, Dr. Wendell Dobbs (no relation to Joe) came by with his flute and, wow, did that ever sound great.” The evening was reported in the weekly podcast.

Aug. 3, 1011: We first met singer/pianist Phyllis Dale, the original Red Hot Mama of The Delta Queen riverboat, in the mid-1990s when Pamela and Charlie took cruise on the Mississippi River. Phyllis is the consummate cabaret singer, as she demonstrated nightly on that good old riverboat. Every evening Phyllis played whatever the crowd wanted to hear when the passengers gathered for the after-hour parties in the steamboat's cozy Texas Lounge. And Phyllis fell in love with The Flood too. In fact, she was instrumental in having the band onboard as the evening’s featured entertainment in the grand Orleans Room during a September 2005 stop in Ashland, Ky.

Phyllis is an original, a born entertainer and waited for years to get her up here for one of our weekly jam sessions. Finally our night came, and The Flood's own crowd was enthralled. Here’s a snippet of the evening, Phyllis rocking it on “Kansas City.”

 

And for more tunes by Phyllis, check out the August 2011 podcasts, where you can hear her on "Up a Lazy River" and on her on beautiful original composition, "She's The Ohio." And in the spring in 2020, we celebrated this wonderful evening in an hour-long Phyllis-oriented "Pajama Jam" video, which you an see below.

 

 

Aug. 11, 2011: The band is booked for an afternoon show at a leadership conference at Charleston's civic center, which would be Jacob Scarr's last gig with the group before leaving for college in Colorado.

2011-chas

Aug. 17, 2011: Jacob Scarr — our youngest-ever bandmate — was fixin’ to leave the nest, heading off to Colorado for college. The night before his red-eye flight to Denver, the Family cdFlood gathered in Bud Carroll’s Live at Trackside studio in Huntington to record all 15 tracks that would become the band’s fourth CD. “Wade the Water.”

It was The Flood’s first trip to the studio in eight years. To recognize the influence young Mr. Scarr had had on The Flood, the disc even featured a novelty picture of Jacob on the cover (showing him with a strategically positioned hat as he waded the sweet waters of the Greenbrier River).

The August 2011 Trackside session also provided The Flood with its first DVD, “The Making of ‘Wade in the Water,’” through the good work of Adam Harris and Michael Valentine. At left is a sample video from that magical evening.  For more videos from the evening, click here.

Ten years later we put the entire album online as part of our Radio Floodango feature.

Incidentally, a video from that evening resurfaced a decade later when it was featured on the local "Good Time Show with Michael Valentine" in a show celebrating Huntington's 150th anniversary. Here's a link to the band's seven-minute segment on the Feb. 27, 2021, broadcast.

Go here for more on the CD and DVD. This session marked the end of chapter in The Flood’s long story. With Jacob’s departure, Doug Chaffin moved to guitar and mandolin for extensive solo work, and Randy Hamilton came aboard to play bass and sing outstanding harmonies. Randy would play a major role in The Flood’s next CD, “Cleanup & Recovery,” just 19 months later.

STORIES:

-- Is Jacob Wearing Pants on the Album Cover? When our friend Norman Davis raised the question, we explained our clever marketing strategy with that cover photo!

-- The Strategically Placed Hat. ... and then a week later, Michelle delivered the line perfectly at a show in Barboursville when Jacob, home from college, was sitting in with the band.

-- The Lasting Memory of the "Wade in the Water" Session. In a 2021 interview by Michael Valentine, Charlie talks about even a decade later, the August 2011 session at Bud Carroll's studio has a fond place in Flood lore.

RandyAug. 24, 2011: Future Floodster Randy Hamilton sat in with us on bass for the first time at a weekly jam session, also attended by fiddler Mike Smith, guitarist Randy Brown and harmonicat Jim Rumbaugh. It was also the first jam in while not attended by Jacob Scarr, who by now was getting oriented as an incoming freshman at the University of Colorado in Bolder. Randy Hamilton "plays very tastefully and has a great rhythm and everyone seems to like him," Charlie told his cousin Kathy in an email the next day. "I don't know if we'll end up going that way for good, but I definitely like the options it promises. We'll see.” Randy, of course, would work out very well, would become a member of the band in four months or so and would be with us for seven years.

Sept. 9, 2011: The band played the Fraley Festival, the first festival since founder J.P. Fraley died the previous winter. "The weather wasn't really great -- rainy, drizzly… but the stage was covers and the set was short, three songs," Charlie told his cousin Kathy in an email later. ". I enjoyed the drive down to Carter Caves alone, met up with Joe and Doug and we did our three songs and the folks seemed to like it.”

Sept. 14, 2011: Paul Martin jammed with the and "his mandolin and his great voice and it just set the tone for the entire evening," Charlie told his cousin Kathy in an email. A Paul Martin tune was featured in a subsequent podcast.

Oct. 19, 2011: Singer/guitarist Tom Norman attended his first jam session and was featured in the podcast. Old friend John and Patti Reid, from Vermont, attended. " I really didn't expect many people there -- it was such a nasty evening -- but we still had a crowd," Charlie wrote in a later email.

Nov. 9, 2011: We were so saddened in May 2018 to learn of the death of Pittsburgh harmonica great Mark Keen, and we immediately thought of the good times we had seven years earlier when Mark sat in with The Flood for a rollicking, wonderful evening of blues. Mark actually grew up in our town. In fact, he and one of our jam session regulars, guitarist Randy Brown, went all through school together here back in the '70s. Mark didn’t get back to Huntington very often, but when he did, Randy brought him around to jam. Here’s a little video memory of Mark at his first Family Flood gathering:

 

Dec. 12, 2011: "We got some pretty bad news," Charlie told his cousin Kathy in a note. "I got a call from Rog and his cancer is back, and I guess it's worse than before. As you may remember, last summer and again in October, it appeared that the cancer was gone. The doctor was even using the word 'remission.' We've been celebrating. However, yesterday afternoon, when he was all alone at the home, Rog got a phone call out of the blue from his radiologist with bad news. Cancer now has appeared in three different locations: in the original spot in his trachea, in his adrenal gland and near his kidney. And the radiologist said it doesn't appear that radiation will be option this time; the cancer is too close to vital organs. He has referred him to his oncologist to discuss possible chemo. Rog has calls into her office at the Markey Center in Lexington to get an appointment as soon as possible.Obviously, this is devastating. When we talked, he'd called and told all the kids, except Cathleen, who was in school. He was to be telling her within the hour when she got home and I could hear the quiver in his voice as he talked about that. I tell you, I'm just heartbroken. guess we've expected a relapse eventually -- they've told him from the beginning that the cancer would be inoperable and that he'd be dealing with it in some way the rest of his life -- but they were so optimistic this summer that it's shocking to find it back to so soon. His world is suddenly upside down again.”

Dec. 23, 2011: At a Christmas house party on Woodland Avenue, Randy Brown, fiddler Susan Staton, Joe, Chuck and Charlie play.

Dec. 30, 2011: The Family Flood said goodbye to 2011 in style with a big party at the Renaissance Center to celebrate the release of "Wade in the Water," its first new album in eight years and "it was a perfect evening," Charlie told his cousin Kathy in an email later. "The Flood hasn't had a night like that in a very long time, maybe ever."

Of course, everyone had worked hard to bring this New Year's Eve-Eve party off. Charlie had sped up the production of the CD to have them on hand when Jacob Scarr was back for Christmas break from college in Colorado. Pamela printed up posters and drove all over town putting up. We courted our favorite news reporters for good stories in advance, which we got. We customized the previous two podcasts to promote the CD and the party. All the guys worked to makes sure everyone was on the same page.

On the day of the event, Pamela and Charlie got to the venue three hours before the show to help Dave Ball set up the sound system and get the CD table set up with the displays. The Renaissance ballroom folks had set up about 80 chairs in a half moon shape around the stage. At 6, the guys started arriving for the soundcheck, and we got that done in about 45 minutes, so we had about 15 minutes to spare before the show started.

Wade party

"And then…. at five minutes 'til showtime, there were maybe 20 people in the chairs," Charlie wrote in his email. "I tell you, my heart just started to sink. OMG, what if, after all that, we don't even fill the chairs??!! How disheartening would that be? Well, in the next 20 minutes, they just kept coming. They to start bringing out more chairs. And then more chairs, ending up nearly doubling the original 80. They packed the room. And they just loved the band. Everyone was in such spirits and played they're hearts out and room just rocked. I had Michelle acting as emcee, tossing it back to me when we needed more information on a specific song."

The band played everything on the new album. And then in the second set, we started inviting musician friends from the audience to sit in with us on specific tunes. Beth McVey sang a duet or two with Michelle. Randy Hamilton, who would be joining the band in less than a month as the new bass player, was featured on on a vocal. "They loved that too," Charlie reported. "And boy, did they buy CDs -- we sold almost $800 worth that one night.”

The show got nice press attention from our friend reporter Dave Lavender, who filed two stories for The Herald-Disaptch, one in advance, and one following the event.

 

Click here to paddle on to The Flood's Third Wave!