The Apprentice's Trail

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Razor Ridge - Independence VA 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 Store Front 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
New York City 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 - &

a course.
Virginia Mtns.

David Hoffman - conductor 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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