Friday, May 13, 2016

Marti Williamson on RCM

Marti Williamson
(M. Williamson, Bill Martin Music)

41234 - The Eagle's Flight
(M. Williamson, Bill Martin Music)

Arr. Paul Martin

RCM Inc.


 Marti Willliamson (1927-2009)

Born Martine Gaynor in Tell City, Indiana. Marti was an accomplished musician, singer, song writer and storyteller. She also was the owner of “The Gathering Place, in Harrodsburg, Kentucky.


Above  - The Gathering Place : Musician and storyteller Marti Williamson performs on the hammered and Kentucky mountain dulcimers, autoharps, guitar and other instruments. Dulcimer is Kentucky's typical instrument.


The Gathering Place sports a rough wood exterior. Far left, candles illuminate a checkering harp and old-fashioned doll on a mantlepiece. The woman at the wood stove wears lacey black stockings and high button shoes. She clangs the burner tops expertly, stoking the fire with a combination of wood and coal. "There's an art to keeping a fire going in a stove like this. My mother worked at it," she says. A plume of steam rises from a tin coffee pot and the smell of fresh rolls fills the air as she takes a pan from the warming oven. Marti Williamson could be next door where things are a bit more up to date, but there are times when she likes to go back to the old ways. 

. "I grew up pretty primitive, much more than this," she says, the sweep of her arm taking in the wind-up Victrola. the collection of old-fashioned cloth dolls, the turn-of-the-century clothing and the down-home musical instruments arranged artfully in the room. "We carried in water and wood, carried out ashes We didn't have electricity." Even now. when she is entertaining folks in this room. Williamson prefers candles in wrought-iron holders to more modern forms of light. She likes to keep things as simple as possible in her "play house." She likes hanging on to the way things used to be, and she likes sharing those old ways with other people. "I think it's so important for us to keep in touch with our roots," she says, opening a 50-year-old refrigerator, a small device with legs.

Williamson has definitely kept in touch with hers. From the folk songs she sings while plucking the strings of a harp to the 19th-century dresses she wears, she reflects the era of her beginnings. It was her interest in collecting antique items and her love for performing that prompted Williamson to open The Gathering Place beside her home on U.S. 127 in Har-rodsburg two years ago. A rustic building paneled in barn wood, The Gathering Place is filled with photographs, clothing, books, kitchen implements, dishes, dolls, quilts, baskets and instruments from the past.

"Sometimes I come here in the evening and just sit," says Williamson. More often, though, she comes to the little one-room building to entertain visitors who come, usually in groups, to see and learn about the building's contents and hear Williamson play and sing. Stepping inside the heavy poplar door with its huge wooden hinges is like stepping back in time. Williamson and her husband, Forrest, who is superintendent of Harrodsburg schools, have given the place a rustic, old-fashioned look. He built the door, laid the poplar floors and paneled the room with barn wood she collected. "When I'd see barn wood, I'd just stop the car. Sometimes they'd say, 'Just take it,'" says Williamson, laughing. Her husband also constructed some benches with the wood, and those come in handy when a large group crowds into The Gathering Place.

Williamson caters mainly to groups who make arrangements ahead of time. She doesn't keep the place open all the time since she is kept busy running a motel and performing for various organizations in the area. Though she performs free of charge in Harrodsburg, she does charge a fee for groups. Those who visit her place are treated to a concert of folk music, hymns and original compositions by Williamson, who plays a variety of instruments: Irish harp, Dauphine harp, hammered dulcimer, Kentucky mountain dulcimer, autoharp and guitar. Williamson attributes her musical abilities to her father, 86-year-old Virgil Gaynor, who lives near Owensboro, where Williamson grew up on a farm. "Daddy always sang the sad old country songs," she says. Williamson learned to play the harmonica at age 5. She remembers performing while standing on top of a table in the one-room school she attended. Her repertoire and abilities grew with the years, not as a result of any training, but simply as an outgrowth of her love for music. "I always say I play by feeling." When she isn't playing her own music at The Gathering Place, Williamson might wind up one of her two Victrolas and listen to a foxtrot or perhaps a more recent record such as "The Wabash Cannonball" by Roy Acuff. At such times, her mind drifts back to those childhood days and she relives them again and again. Story and photos by Sallie Bright (From November 14, 1986 THE ADVOCATE MESSENGER WEEKEND SECTION)


Label picture and audio : this current e-bay sale
RCM, Winchester, Kentucky label discography

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