I pick up Willie at the Big Star in Holly Springs. He is donning a hat which will forever be a signature for him in my mind. That and of course the camera gear. His is compact and organized as his physique. He's thin and wearing slacks and a nice sweater. I don't look at his shoes but assume they are of the dress type. Willie presents himself well and sports a smile speaking kindness.
He had mentioned Foxfire Ranch when I met him at the Rendezvous. A couple, he said, had opened up their cattle and horse ranch to different musicians and their fans on Sunday nights. He explained it was in between Holly Springs and Oxford, a community by the name of Waterford, and they were talking of completing their season toward the end of November. That I should check it out. And, of course, I wanted to. Music draws me places but I must admit that even more than that I was pulled by the question Who does that? Who are the people opening their space to strangers?
Willie and I make the drive from Holly Springs to Foxfire in what seems like only moments since neither one of us can get a word in edgewise from the other one talking. I think it's a symptom of photography that you're always trying to say something, always trying to tell somebody something, a story perhaps. Willie and I are just trying to tell each other stories the whole way out there. Until we pull up to the driveway.
It is dark but the house is lit up. The dirt driveway curves into the land on the right, down and up to a, ummmm, a what do you call that? Willie, OH. MY. GOSH. Who has this place?
He gives me names, a couple in their retirement, him from the Army and she from the University, have built this enormous, gargantuan outdoor covered arena on their land. They share it. They bring in musicians and provide entertainment every Sunday evening.
I stop talking, listen to where Willie tells me to park and get out of the car. I grab the camera gear, Willie grabs his and we walk up to the place.
She knows Willie and welcomes him like homefolk. And although she doesn't know me I get the same type of greeting. She is behind a large concession area multitasking, telling the story of Foxfire to a young man who I can only assume is interviewing her for an article. I hear what she is saying. She is talking of her love of music and how it only made sense that she combine their place with what she loves. The Blues.
I look at Willie and whisper a wow.
I shake her hand, tell her I am amazed by her place, sign her guestbook and walk into a room on the left built for nights with less of a crowd and more of a need for warmth. A large room with tables and seating. It feels like home and everyone in the room seems like family. The band is at the far right and there is a woman belting out respect like all the rest of us do in our cars when Aretha is singing it. Except there is one difference, if I could sing it with the voice she does I'd never say or write a word. I'd just sing everything.
Willie and I find a table in the middle of the room, set our gear down and start moving in different directions. He is setting up video on a tripod in one corner, and I am going from one space to another trying to capture what this is.
The band. The dancing. The smiles. The people.
The where have I been?
It feels like worship. Like a true Sunday service. Like joy. Like gratitude.
I can't do it. I cannot provide you with a photograph that shows you the dream these two people, this couple had. This dream that with hard work and diligence became a place. A place which makes strangers feel at home so it seems for at least one moment there is no such word as strangers.
All I can tell you is that this weekend, Sunday November 21st, is their last show of the season. Robert Belfour will be there at 70 years old to give us a taste of a life steeped in Hill Country Blues.
It only cost $10.
And she'll cook you up a good, hearty meal for cheap.
He'll be walking around making sure you feel welcome.
I'll be shooting, trying to improve over last time.
Slater'll be there.
Hopefully Rusty and Rebecca.
Maybe Connor and Cannon.
How 'bout it, D?
Come on, Kim. You'll love it!
I hope you'll be there. All of you. So you can see for yourself what type of generosity this is 'cause I can't even explain it.
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