It happened before the Sam Bush concert. We settled into a great seat to enjoy the evening music. RG had worked hard emceeing the Little Pickers tent all day; we had enjoyed the instrument makers tent...visting and playing. Now was music time...
RG let his wild side out that day wearing his kilt and his Scot's teeshirt with a battle shield printed on the back. Of course I started it all by wearing my own Daughter of Scotland tee shirt which we bought at the Scottish Highland Games on Grandfather Mountain last year. We were a pair to be seen.
A gentleman came up to us and inquired - since we were wearing the garb, were we Scottish? RG started in on his genealogy and I just smiled. Then, the fellow pulled a harmonica and serenaded us with his rendition of "Scotland, the Brave". I had tears in my eyes and said to myself, there's my blog.
It is well-known in NC that we had the largest influx of Scottish immigrants in the colonies. Gaelic was spoken in the area of Cross Creek (now Fayetteville)until after the Civil War. The important battle of Moore's Creek in 1776 saw the defeat of Scottish Highlanders, ever faithful to their word of loyalty to the English king, by the patriots which kept NC out of the first part of the Revolution. Led by the husband of Flora McDonald and spirited up by Flora herself, the Highlanders joined the loyalist Governor in an ill-conceived plan to put down the political rebellion.
It seems a shame that after the bad treatment their fathers received in 1745 in their homeland, they would support the English king in 1775, but a Scotsman is nothing if not true to his word. After the war, these Scots became among the most fierce citizens of the new country. Somebody knows more about this than I do, so comment on this detail of the Scottish settlers in NC.
The gentlemen received a large round of applause from other Merlefest-goers as we waited for the next set. He smiled, took a bow and said goodbye. A little later as I wrote my notes he passed by again. I flagged him down to ask for his name again. He was Dave House, Bryon House's father. Bryon is the bass player in Sam Bush's band. He told us about knowing Sam Bush when he was little and how Bryon and Sam learned to play the music. That was cool. Parents still come out to support their kids even after they become famous. I'm sure I will too when my 6'8" 16 year old son does whatever it is he will do.
I asked Mr. House about his harmonica playing and he said he started young and quit for a while. Then he picked it up again. He was a military man for most of his life. The harmonica was inspiration for him. The first song he learned was "Soldier's Joy" which was well-known during the Revolution. He said the tune was in fact so old, no one really knows where it came from. So there is my second Rev. War connection.
You never know who you will meet at Merlefest and you certainly never know what Revolutionary connections you will make if you think about it. "Soldier's Joy" is a tune everyone knows here. It was important in the 1770s and it is still important in the 2000s. God bless our soldiers.