SASSAFRAZZ at General Lewis Inn & Restaurant, Performance Review

Dining alone at a restaurant is always an interesting introspective expedition. It was sweet and contented solitude in the lovely atmosphere of the General Lewis, while I waited for my soup and salad on this chilly fall night, sitting, writing, drawing, thinking, listening to the couples’ small-talk around me, wondering about their pasts, inventing audacious back-stories for them if they seemed anomalous enough, inventing wilder ones if they seemed too humdrum. Some folks were new to the place, and some were old familiar patrons. Me, quiet and observant for once, I kept to myself, a ribbon of drawings and words at the end of my pen…

The music was to begin soon in the next room, out of sight of my table, nearly out of sound, but I waited patiently while I heard the ping ping ping of tuning fiddles, mandolins, and guitars. They began their gentle set, and as I dined, the lovely tunes wafted into my periphery. One of the ghosts of the General Lewis joined me in my reverie and took his place in the opposite chair, commenting on the loveliness of fresh flowers at each table, sans the alstroemerias, and he watched the dining room from the realm of another time.

So the trio calling themselves SASSAFRAZZ, comprised of three musicians who had met in the Irish Pub (as most of us eventually do), played their way through toe-tapping fiddle tunes, lovely from the start, trading off melodies and harmonies. Mary Dailey, Rachel Johnson, and Bob Adams are the three constituents making up the group. Mary’s solid and comfortable guitar playing easily backed up the interwoven sounds of Bob and Rachel’s fiddles and mandolins, and from the next room, the reels, hornpipes, jigs, and lamenting death ballads, wove around my ears like dragonflies, sweet, and fleeting and soothing. Every few songs, Mary would sing one, always a pleasure, and it would slightly break up the certain sameness of the Celtic medleys. I recently heard her sing at the Pub with Jeanne Hoffman, a fundraiser for Glenn Singer, and it made me want to sing the third part to their lovely harmonies.

So when I joined the other guests in the parlor/living room area where they played, I watched the listeners rocking gently in their rocking chairs, carried away by the melodies, and humming along quietly. The music soared and settled, bounced and wove, with an easy banter between songs. We were content to be there, ghosts and all. After a medley including Brian Somebody’s March (can’t read my own writing!), Trip to Sligo , and Master Crawley’s Reel. The last song before I left was a really really nice bluesy song called “Walk On, Boy”, written by Mel Tillis and Wayne P. Walker, with a great version recorded by Doc Watson. I’m in love with this song. “Walk on, boy; walk on down the road; Ain’t nobody in this whole wide world A-gonna help you carry your load.” Great tune, thanks for turning me on to it.

So SASSAFRAZZ is yours for the booking. They will do lots of lovely Celtic tunes for your party this winter, and they can be booked through Mary’s email mdinwv@hotmail.com . They are playing once a month at the General Lewis and often at the Irish Pub. Dining in solitude is not so bad when you have ghosts and reels and death ballads and blues to send you into the night. Thank you for a lovely evening, Reuben. And good night to the others who joined us in spirit.

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