The Apprentice's Trail
|Razor Ridge Workshop - Independence, VA @ US Hwy21 & US Hwy54|
Having been unwittingly had by the rocker, I sought out what fast became an elusive
apprenticeship; community colleges, libraries, woodworkers, cabinetshops - no one could help, or knew anyone who could.
At the advice of friends in Sparta, NC, I tracked down Dave and Sherry Hoffman @ Razor Ridge Workshop. They agreed to employ me & in August of 1977 it all started.
Razor Ridge, named for the Hoffman's original homestead in far western Grayson Co., near the Iron Mtns, was a small job shop where I spent 2 years fixing old furniture, upright pianos, and chairs - there were always plenty of chairs. . .
|Razor Ridge Workshop|
|As we arrived at the shop one morning, propped against the front door was a set of 2 or 3 broken dinning room chairs. There was no note - just the chairs. Dave looked back at Sherry and me, letting go a sad laugh. He unlocked the door and stepped around and over the chairs. I picked up the pile of sticks and seats, and carried them to the back room. By lunch there had been a phone call, and a request to fix what we had hoped had been abandoned at the doorstep.|
Both Dave and Sherry were
accomplished musicians living in
New York City.
Dave had been a professional
trombonist, and Sherry a pianist
It was the Appalachian ballads
that first enchanted and drew
them into Grayson County
and Southwestern Virginia
|Manhatten in the Rain|
And up on Razor Ridge,
on some cool summer night,
Dave thumped on a patched
up ol' bass fiddle, and with
Sherry accompanying on the
mandolin, those old ballads
came to haunt me as well,
setting the seed - &
|Sherry Hoffman - accompanying pianist Dave Hoffman - conductor, Highland Camarata - spring 1980|
'Long 'bout 1978, the Hoffmans conjured up the Highland Camarata, a small chamber choir. From classical to barbershop to gospel, this small band of carpenters, potters, cabinetmakers, housebuilders, piano tuners, storekeepers & farmers pulled off weekly rehearsals and two full concerts a year.
I joined up in 1979
. . . an element to my apprenticeship I would never have forseen.
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