16 Weekender Friday, December 9, 1977
When Vassar fiddles around,
the audience loves his sound
By CHIP ENSSLIN
Vassar Clements stood on the Mad Hatter
stage Monday night with his thin little pipe
and his fiddle Throckmorton. The capacity
audience was doing as instructed: it was
having a good time.
Clements, called by some the greatest
fiddler in the world, brought his talented
four-piece band with him and dazzled
Chapel Hill with his virtuosity and range of
His style defies definition.
He got started in Nashville 27 years ago
with Bill Monroe, the father of bluegrass,
but since then has developed his skills
playing with such diverse musicians as Doc
Watson, Hot Tuna, the Grateful Dead and
And, of course, the Nitty Gritty Dirt
Although Clements played a couple of old
bluegrass tunes Monday, the real purists
might have been disappointed with his
leanings toward more electric and
"Can you imagine," he said between sets,
"that some people want to hear the same old
songs, played over and over the way they
were originally recorded?"
Clements believes, he said, that music
"should be played the way a person feels it."
He justifies his deviation from the
traditional bluegrass style, and rightfully so,
by acknowledging the growth of his art.
"I'd like to hear more of "the tone of the
fiddle," he said, "but if you're going to keep
on learning. . .'"
Clements was accompanied by Jackie
Garrett on keyboards and vocals, Jimmy
O'Neill on guitar, Richard Price on bass, and
Brian Cole on drums.
Garrett appeared with Clements on his
most recent album, released by MCA
Records about two months ago.
These men got the Mad Hatter crowd
rocking during the second set, playing some
AUman Brothers tunes and encoring with
"Will the Circle Be Unbroken."
Clements, a native of Kissimmee, Fla.,
never has had a music lesson in his life. He
drifted back and forth between Nashville
and Florida for a number of years, "back
while I was on the bottle."
He achieved overnight success with the
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band in 1971 on their
classic album, Will the Circle Be Unbroken,
and has been on the road almost constantly
since then, while not iecording. He's also
been on the wagon.
The Vassar Clements Band plans for the
"Just to try to keep polishing music," he
says. "Just doing what we want to do
playing original stuff."
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Virtuoso Vassar Clements brought his fiddle, Throckmorton, to the Mad Hatter
Monday,night and got the crowd foot stomping and knee slapping with his bluegrass
tunes. Photo by Mack Ray.
UNC Lab productions end with
Leonard Melfi's one-act 'Birdbath'
The University of North Carolina's
Department of Dramatic Art will
present Leonard Melfi's play, Birdbath,
as the final production of its fall
semester Laboratory Theatre season.
Melfi's short one-act play appears in a
Bagels will be
Perhaps with an eye on a new world
record, The Bagel Place, 109 E. Chapel Hill
St., Durham, is sponsoring a bagel-and-cream-cheese
eating contest. The event gets
under way at noon Sunday and all entrants
should call 688-7917 or sign up by Saturday
Dec. 10. AS 100 bond will be awarded to the
best bagel eater.
collection of short plays entitled
Encounters. Birdbath will be presented
at 8 p.m. Dec. 9 through 1 1 in Room 06
This production is directed by Errol
Selsby, production stage manager for
the Playmakers Repertory Company.
Birdbath runs for 45 minutes.
Admission is free, and tickets are
available outside the PRC box office in
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