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Defining events of The 1937 Flood, told in stories, photos, audios and videos
over the years!


A band that traces its beginnings back nearly a half century has many entries in its scrapbook. Here are some of the high and low watermarks of The Flood's drift through the decades.


FIRST WAVE!

1971 | 1972 | 1973 | 1974 | 1975 | 1976 | 1977 | 1978 | 1979 | 1980 | 1981 | 1982 | 1983 | 1984

july4Highlights...
-- Dave and Charlie start working out tunes as a duo
-- Bill Hoke gets reeled in
-- Dave and Rog record "Banks of the Old Guyan"
-- Joe arrives
-- We discover jug band music
-- We open for Little Jimmy Dickens
-- We jam with Sen. Bob Byrd
-- Wallace Washboard arrives
-- "Music from the Mountains" debuts


SECOND WAVE!

1991 | 1992 | 1995 | 1996 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999 |
2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011

2ndHighlights...
-- Doug joins the band
-- Chuck comes on board
-- Sam becomes a Floodster
-- Pamela becomes band manager
-- Jamming with the Huntington Symphony Orchestra
-- Michelle meets the guys
-- Dave Ball becomes "Bub"
-- Jacob becomes the youngster Floodster

THIRD WAVE!

2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016 | 2017 | 2018 | 2019

thirdHighlights...
-- Randy joins The Flood
-- We surprise Ken Hechler for his 99th
-- Marshall's "Tom Sawyer" welcomes us
-- Paul Martin becomes a Floodster
-- Joe Dobbs passes away
-- We lose Roger
-- We become the house band for "Route 60 Saturday Night"

FOURTH WAVE!

2020| 2021 | 2022 | 2023 | 2024

4thwavveHighlights..
-- Dave Peyton dies at 76
-- Vanessa Coffman joins the band
-- Danny Cox becomes a Floodster
-- Bill Hoke passes away
-- Chuck Romine dies
-- Jack Nuckols joins the band
-- Doug Chaffin passes away


The First Wave
The 1970s

1971

Feb. 26, 1971: Inspiration for what would become The 1937 Flood can be traced to a joyous evening of music at Ashland Community College.

By the winter of 1971. Pamela and Charlie Bowen had been back in the area for about two months, having moved home from Lexington, Ky., after Charlie had finished his courses at the University of Kentucky. At the newspaper where they were working as new reporters they got a call from Nancy McClellan inviting them to a "mini-concert" held to raise funds for the fledgling Mountain Heritage Folk Festival to be held that June at Carter Caves State Park. As Pamela noted in her journal a few nights later, "We sat on cushions in front of the stage and taped most of it and took a lot of pictures." 1971 - Dave & Rog

Alas, the recording is gone now, but Pamela's words recall the impact of the evening. Our dear friend Terry Goller was a headliner, coming on stage with his 1935 Martin and a slew of new and old songs, but the real hit of the evening was David Peyton with his Autoharp and teamed up with a young man named Roger Samples who picked the bejeesus out of a Guild 12-string.

Now, the Bowens had known David for a long while. Charlie had met him four or five years earlier when Peyton regularly came to the music parties that Pamela hosted in the basement of her parents' house in Ashland. Dave was just starting to teach himself the Autoharp in those days. Roger, on the other hand, they didn't know as well. As a fellow student, Pamela had sung and played on stage with Roger at folk music concerts at Marshall University, but she hadn't gotten to know him yet. So that night in Ashland, she and Charlie were wowwed at all the music that David and Rog could get from just two voices and two instruments. The Bowens went home with Rog and Dave's "Raggle Taggle Gypsy" still ringing in their heads.

So, what does all this mean to The Flood? Well, it’s complicated. Roger, set to graduate from Marshall in a few months, was in a transition period in early 1971, and work would take him farther and farther from Huntington, meaning he would have less and less time for music. That meant David -- who worked with Charlie and Pamela at the newspaper -- was open to new musical combinations. Now, Charlie was eager to step into this void; however, in those days, Charlie — enthusiastic newlywed that he was — had been a whole lot more interested in playing with Pamela than playing with his guitar. Oh, he hadn't forgotten about music; in fact, before leaving Lexington, he'd traded in his old nylon-string classical guitar for a Gibson J-45 he bought from a cop, but its steel strings hurt his fingers, and the less he played the less he could play.

Still, the dream lived on. Throughout the rest of 1971, David and Charlie talked a lot of music during downtime in the newsroom, but it would take a good long while for Charlie to build up his courage -- and his calluses -- and actually picked with Dave a couple of years later in the wee hours at a New Year’s Eve party. After that, the two of them jamming would become a regular thing, and eventually, Peyton’s legendary gravitational pull would draw Rog back into the orbit as well, making them a trio.

But that was still a ways off. For now, it was David and Roger’s music that was echoing in the Bowens’ heads as they left for home after the concert on that chilly February Friday night. “... And one sang high and the other sang low and the other sang a raggle taggle gypsy-o…”

This important evening also was featured in this entry in Flood Watch.

STORIES:

-- A Duck Flying Backwards. Talking with host Brad Becker during the band's 2009 appearance on Red Barn Radio in Lexington, Ky., David discusses why he got into Autoharp playing and his how he developed his unique style of playing.

-- David Talks About His Musical Roots. On a 2002 episode of Joe's"Music from the Mountains" show, David talks about how he got started in music in the years before The Flood.

-- Roger Talks of His Youth. On a November 2002 solo appearance on Joe's"Music from the Mountains" show, Rog Samples talks of growing up in Clendennin, WV, in the 1950s and '60s.

-- Remembering the Coffeehouse Days. Speaking with Joe Dobbs on the radio, Roger Samples remember his early days at the coffeehouses at Marshall University and in Ashland, Ky


April 30, 1971
: On a warm spring evening, we all piled into cars to head over for a May Day Eve party in the East Pea Ridge area of Huntington at Sandy and Don Hatfield’s house.

Many reasons to celebrate were on our minds. For one, Roger Samples was just days away from graduating from Marshall University and he was eager to pursue his dreams of being a teacher. For another, David and Susie Peyton were about to be parents (with David Jr. to be busy being born exactly two months later). Twinkling with expectations, then,was the evening, and Roger played and sang his heart out to the applause of a room of drinking, laughing, happy listeners.

Such a joyful evening it was, ended so tragically.

Penniless, the Bowens — just getting started in their new careers as Huntington newspaper reporters — also were car-less in those days, so they hitched a ride to the Hatfield party with the Peytons. A comical sight, surely, was made by the four of them squeezing into the Peytons' Volkswagen beetle, including a very pregnant Susie and an always-too-tall Charlie. Once at the party, the Peytons and Bowen went separate ways. Charlie and Pamela, having been at the Huntington Publishing Co. less than three months, didn’t know everyone at the party However, as soon at they walked in, they saw one of their oldest friends.

Patty-Roger-Frosty

Frosty Lee (his real name was “Forrest,” but no one we knew called him that) had been in their circle of friends for a half a decade by then. His wife Patti was Pamela’s best friend in the Marshall journalism department when they were both students there. Pamela and Patti were eager to have their guys meet, since they shared a lot of interests. For instance, both Frosty and Charlie were aspiring poets. In fact, Charlie met Frosty’s poems before he met the poet itself. While he still was serving in Vietnam, Frosty sent home some of his verses, which Patti shared with Pamela. Charlie, who was editor of the student newspaper at the Ashland Community College, loved them and published them. When Frosty got home from the war (with a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart), the two couples had many days and evenings together, including regular trips to the Marshall coffeehouse together to hear the music (Roger and Dave, Terry Goller and Dave Bias and many others). That night at the Hatfield house, though, Patti wasn’t there, insteading working an evening shift at The Associated Press office in Charleston.

“Charlie and I spent most of our time at the party talking to Frosty,” Pamela wrote in her journal the next day. “He hadn’t been working or going to school lately, so he said he spent most of his time trying to write poems. We talked about all sorts of things, including my aversion to owning a car, half-jokingly telling him that we didn’t want a car because we wanted to stay alive. He said a car made him feel very free, and he wanted to ‘rescue’ us from city life some weekend soon and take us to their house in the country.”

Later, Roger, putting down his guitar after an hour or so of entertaining the crowd, wandered by to join them. The Bowens didn’t yet know Rog well, but Frosty seemed on a mission that night to bring all his friends together. For instance, he wanted Roger also to come out to the country home, to have at least one more good get-together before that new college degree might carry the young musician away from the area.

journal“Since the party was destined to last most of the night,” Pamela wrote in the journal, “we hitched a ride home with Frosty" when he left at 11 to pick up Patti at work, "and the last thing I told him was to drive carefully.”

A 2:30 a.m. phone call woke the Bowens. It was Don with terrible news. A head-on collision in Dunbar. Frosty had died in the ambulance. Patti was at the hospital in shock.

“It all seemed so unreal,” Pamela wrote. “We took a long walk around the park, talking about him, and finally went to sleep around 4 a.m. I woke up four hours later feeling sick and my first thought was about what Patti would wake up to. … Frosty was probably the most ‘alive’ people I’ve ever seen. He loved the open country and dreamed of someday owning a mountain. He and Patti weren’t ashamed to love West Virginia, and one of the best times we ever had together was a day at the New River Gorge where we had a picnic lunch and waded in the river.”

Adding to the sadness, Pamela recorded, was that the Lees had been hoping to have a child. They had miscarried a few months earlier and, during their long talk at the Hatfield party, Frosty talked of how they were eager to try again.

After Frosty’s burial, Patti moved to Vermont to continue working with the AP. Three years later, she fell in love again, marrying fellow journalist John Reid. With John, Patti would travel back to Huntington from Vermont regularly and the Reids were at a number of those crazy music parties where David and Roger and Charlie started birthing The Flood. Meanwhile, speaking of births, when John and Patti's son Driscoll was born in 1976, his middle name was Forrest.

Morris BrosSept. 24-26, 1971: Long-time buddy Jack Nuckols married his life-long sweetheart Susie Holbrook in early 1971. Pamela and Charlie Bowen, still newlyweds themselves, were eager to spend more time with the couple, so when the Nuckols invited them to come along on a trek to the new Morris Family Old-Time Music Festival at Ivydale, W.Va., they jumped at the chance.

Now, they’d been to festivals before. They’d all witnessed the launch of the Mountain Heritage Folk Festival at Kentucky’s Greenbo State Park in 1970 and followed it for the second edition when it moved to Carter Caves the next spring, and they would be regulars at the Fraley Festival when it launched in a few years.

But Ivydale would be different. For one thing it was a camping trip — Charlie and Pamela were infamously NOT campers — and the conditions would be … well, a bit more Woodstock-y, open to the elements, as it were. “Wood-seated outhouses and one water spigot to serve 5,000 music fanatica,” as future Floodster Stew Schneider wrote tofriends in a later review. “It was definitely not for the faint of heart.”

Ivydale also would bring together musicians who would become critical to The Flood’s birth. The music that the Bowens heard there would inspire with the weekend “Bowen Bash” music parties that would begin the next year and would continue for nearly a decade at Charlie and Pamela's house.

Camping out and picking within feet of the Nuckols/Bowens site all weekend were Jim and Ralf Strother, Susan and Stew Schneider and H. David Holbrook. (If Ivydale has a soundtrack in the Bowens’ memories, it is that earliest configuration of The Kentucky Foothill Ramblers — David, Jack and Jim — playing Uncle Dave Macon’s “Sail Away Ladies” until the Clay County hills rang long into the autumn night.

1972

Aug. 25-26, 1972: Pamela and Charlie hosted the first of the regular music parties that would come to be called “The Bowen Bash.” These weekend-long parties – usually held once in the spring and again in the fall – would nurture The Flood during its formative years in the hippy-dippy '70s. At the time of this first bash, the Bowens had just settled down the previous spring into new digs. Honestly, it was not the greatest venue for raucous musical evenings – an upstairs apartment in a yellow brick South Side duplex – but fortunately, the old lady who lived alone on the first floor was mostly deaf. The landlord told the young couple that if they put down heavy rugs, they would not disturb their downstairs neighbor. Taking him at his word, the Bowens solicited Stew Schneider’s help and put down large carpets in the two main rooms.

bash 1972

Then, confident of carpetting's note-absorbing properties, they invited in the pickers.

Alas, there are no recordings of that first gathering -- that's technology wouldn't be embranced by the bashers until the next year -- but post party letters to friends and family reported a successful gathering, ranging from cool folk and blues by long-time friend and musical mentor Terry Goller to rollicking old-time music by banjo picker extraordinare H. David Holbrook to the clear-as-mountain water ballads of Jack Nuckols and Susan Lewis (Schneider, in those days, still married to Stewart at the time.)

"The best we can figure," the Bowens wrote to family in Septmber, "some 30 folks were attracted to the event for two days of talking, drinking, eating, guitar-picking, singing, chess playing, etc. And a thirsty-hungry lot they were, taking in four gallons of beer, six gallons of Coke, 10 bottles of win, three pounds of potato chips, six dozen cookies, five dozen brownies, a pound of peanuts and two pounds of pretzels. Fortunately, most of the participants brought a jug or bag of their own to swell the common stock of cheer."


1973

April 13-14, 1973: Spring 1973 found the Bowens, for the first time in their 4-year-old marriage, living in a house rather than a apartment. In late winter, they had moved only a half doxen dozen blocks and it was a rental, not anything they owned Bash House(yet), but that 70-year-old frame house at 604 13th Avenue offered a world of difference from the cramped upstairs duplex they were coming from, and the Bowens were ready to celebrate their new lebensraum. That was the back-drop for their hosting the second "Bowen Bash" music party.

Many of the same pickers from the first bash the previous August were back, and they had brought friends. It was an memorable weekend for many reasons, not the least of which was meeting Floodster-to-be Bill Hoke. Today Bill still remembers that evening in April 1973. “I got out of the Navy at the end of February and spent a few weeks checking into a couple of 'dream jobs" before landing in Lexington,” Bill wrote recently. “The dream jobs were the Cass Railroad and the Delta Queen. The timing was bad for both. Then, I went to Lexington and met Jim and Ralf Strother and later David, and Jack and Susie.”

Bill's cousin, Susan Lewis, said the bunch of them were traveling from Lexington for a party in Huntington, “and we needed to go 'cause there would be music, though, she said, Stewart and Charlie mostly sit around and play chess. Well, I don't remember the chess games, but I do remember hearing more music that night than I'd heard in every coffeehouse I had ever been to. Being just out of a six-year stint in Navy, I'm thinking, 'My God! Life Is good! I was hooked!”

STORIES:

-- Those Hippie Pickin' Parties. While being interviewed by Michael Valentine on a 2021 TV show honoring Huntington's 175th birthday, Charlie talks about how The Flood is about a third of the city's age and was born at the parties he and Pamela hosted in the 1970s.

-- Memories about Forgetting. When Charlie temporarily forgets the name of a tune and has to be reminded by David, it prompts a memory from the earliest days of the Bowen Bashes.

Dec. 31, 1973: Peyton and Bowen started working out tunes together at a New Year's Day's at David and Susie's house on Mount Union Road. Dave and Charlie

Dave and Charlie had known each other for a while. A half dozen years earlier, they had met at folk music parties that Pamela started hosting at her parents' house in Ashland, Ky., but in those days Dave had yet to really get started with the Autoharp. The following year, when Charlie left for school in Lexington, Dave met Roger Samples, who was an incoming student at Marshall University, and the two of them started working up tunes together.

Several years later, when Charlie and Pamela -- who had married by then -- moved back to the area from Lexington to work at the same newspapers where Dave worked, Rog had moved away, and Dave was looking someone to regularly jam with. In fact, that was a topic of discussion at the "Bowen Bash" the previous when Dave arrived at the party with his Autoharp and his wife, but no Roger, who had by now graduated from Marshall University and had moved a way.

So, when the Peytons invited the Bowens to the party at their house and in the wee hours, and Charlie and Dave found a guitar-Autoharp groove that made them grin. There are even a few recordings from that initial Peyton-Bowen collaborate, inclduing their earliest take on the Carter Family's "Cannonball Blues," which they dubbed "Solid Gone" in honor of the vesion Charlie learned from a Tom Rush album. Here's a version of the tune from that New Year's Eve party at Peyton Place, among the first recordings David and Charlie ever made together. ("Solid Gone," Dec. 31, 1973.) By the time of the next Bowen Bash, the Peyton-Bowen collaboration would have an assortment of tunes to share.

Oh, if for some strange reason you're interested in how the tunes evolved in Peyton and Bowen's tremendous hands, here's Dave and Charlie's version of the same song as it sounded just four months later as they prepared for their first real gig, a gathering of retired railroad men meeting at the Hotel Frederick in downtown Huntington. By then, Dave was singing all the verses with Charlie coming in on the choruses for the harmony parts. ("Solid Gone," May 3, 1974.)

STORIES:

-- Our Folkie Heart. While being interviewed by host Arthur Hancock at a 2012 Red Barn Radio concert in Lexington, Ky., Charlie reports the origins of the band.

-- Featherbedding Firemen. Forty years later, Charlie still talked about that first gig as a duo

-- Been on the Job Too Long. Charlie and David admit that after 40 years, they bickered like an old married couple.

1974

Feb. 9, 1974: As Peyton and Bowen started getting to know each musically, they worked at teaching each other their best songs. Here's one of Dave's favs from back in the days, a solo rendition of a great gypsy tune called "Blackjack Davey," Feb. 9, 1974.

April 26, 1974: Jack Nuckols is the one who got away. For years, The Flood’s earnest anglers tried to reel Jack into their foolishness, but he always seemed to slip off the hook.

JackOne of the most versatile musicians he’s ever known, Charlie met Jack in 1963 in Miss Reynolds’ speech class at Paul G. Blazer High School in Ashland, Ky. (As the two tallest students, they were both invited to sit in the back of the room where they discussed that if the school ever had a play about Abe Lincoln, the two of them could arm-wrestle for the role.)

In those days, Jack was a star of the school band’s percussion section, following his father’s love of drums. Later, Jack would take up guitar and play in a local Chad Mitchell Trio cover band called The Wayfarers (with Jim Canfield and David Chinn), but then he was drawn to more traditional folk music.

By the time he got to college, Jack was playing the mountain dulcimer (“Waterbound and I can’t get home….”) at the college coffeehouse and would be part of the earliest incarnations of the great Kentucky Foothill Ramblers with David Holbrook, Jim Strother and Ronnie Sanders.

By 1974, Jack had taken up fiddle. In this track ("June Apple," "Angeline Baker" and "Lynchburg Town" April 26, 1974), David and Charlie sit in with Jack on a few fiddle tunes. Can’t you just hear Bowen and Peyton making their pitch to draw him into The Flood? “C’mon in, Jack. The water’s fine!” And then he swam away.

Incidentally, it wouldn’t be their last attempt to recruit Mr. Nuckols; five years after this session, we tried to net him to be The Flood’s rhythm section. Here he is playing spoons on a rowdy evening with Joe, Rog, Stew, Bill and Charlie.

May 3, 1974: After four months of jamming together, David and Charlie had their first public performance in early May 1974, playing at The Elephant Walk in old Hotel Frederick in downtown Huntington, entertaining a group of retired railroad employees. They prepared for the gig by working up a number of old train-oriented folk songs. Here from a Friday night rehearsal of the Peyton house on Mount Union Road is one of the tunes prepped for the set. ("The Wreck of the FFV, May 3, 1974).

BsshMay 18, 1974: David and Charlie played their first John Prine tunes at an annual Bowen Bash music party. As noted earlier, The Bash — a semiannual three-day party hosted Pamela and Charlie Bowen for their musician friends — was central to the birth of The 1937 Flood. Over the next decade, the bashes would continue in the spring and autumn of each year in Big Blue, the only frame house in the 600 block of 13th Avenue in Huntington’s South Side.

It was in this house and among those friends — fellow musicians and a growing community of devoted fans — that The Flood evolved in the hazy hippy-dippy 1970s. And John Prine’s music would always be as much a part of the band’s DNA as it was part of The Bash’s foundational chemistry. At the very first bash in August 1972, Terry and Pat Goller came with a selection of interesting new folk albums to share, and it was John Prine’s self-titled first album, released a few months earlier, that completely blew everyone away. Charle and Dave immediately fell in love with Prine’s “Paradise” (“…. and Daddy, won’tcha take me back to Muhlenberg County, down by the Green River where Paradise lay? Well, I'm sorry, my son, but you're too late in asking. Mr. Peabody's coal train has hauled it away.”) By the May 18, 1974, bash, we had started recording some of the music of The Bash, with Stewart Schneider at the helm of the recording equipment, and here’s what Stew recorded of Dave and Charlie’s rendition of "Paradise" May 18, 1974).

Meanwhile, here's another song from the same Bowen Bash, David and Charlie doing "Roving Gambler" (May 18, 1974). This song actually is a bittersweet memory for The Flood, because, as it happens, it would be the very last song that David and Charlie would sing together 42 years later.

Finally, as shown below, recordings and photos from that first taped bash form the opening episode of The Flood's eight-part legacy film series on the Bowenn Bashes, produced and published in 2021.

 

STORIES:

The House that Named the Band. The house that hosted all those great music parties of the 1970s and early '80s also played a key role in the naming of the band, as David and Charlie tell a radio studio audience in Lexington, Ky., in 2009.

May 25, 1974: David and Charlie played their first out-of-town gig, doing a set of a few songs on the Saturday afternoon program at the 5th annual Mountain Heritage Folk Festival at the amphitheater at Carter Caves State Park in Olive Hill, Ky.

1974-MHFF

Only years later did it occur to us that there might have been something prophetic about the fact that two guys who would go on to form a band called The Flood would have their inaugural set cut short by a sudden downpour.

STORIES:

The Hippy Girl in the Rain. Years later, Charlie and Dave were still telling one particular story of high times at that first big gig.


June 22, 1974: Briefly in that first year of the Peyton-Bowen collaboration, Charlie noodled with a 12-string guitar ... until cooler heads prevailed and convinced him that he was having a hard enough time tuning six strings. Here from a Saturday night at the Peyton house is one of his 12-string outings, backing David's rendering of a railroad song. ("Working on the New Railroad", June 22, 1974.)

Sept. 13, 1974
: Roger, David and Charlie headed to Ashland, Ky., for another Friday evening set at the good ol' Catacombs coffeehouse. About this audio, here's a curiosity. Years later, when we would talk about the tune "The House of the Rising Sun," we might remember how swiftly that particular number used to move along under our youthful, eager (and sometimes herbally energized) fingertips. Somewhere, sometime we got obviously the notion that fast equaled good, but even that doesn't fully explain this manic pace. Lord, boys, hope you caught that bus you were apparently chasing! ("The House of the Rising Sun," Sept. 13, 1974).

Oct. 12, 1974: The Flood has never had a dobro in the band, but we came close in our earliest days. In the early 1970s, Charlie — in rare moment of disposal income in the Bowen household — bought a beautiful National Steel Body guitar. The reason wa a movie; he had jut seen “Sounder” in which Taj Mahal had torn it up with a resonator guitar, and Bowen had visions of a future in blues. Well, the instrument turned out to be much more guitar that Charlie could handle. In addition , the thing weighed a ton, so the diminutive Roger Samples wasn’t interested in fooling with it either. Enter Bill Hoke. Bill, who had more of a multi-instrumental Mike Seeger soul than any of us before or since, had just begun hanging out with David and Charlie, and Bill saw something in the new big bluesy guitar that had complete eluded all the rest of us. Bill borrowed the box from Bowen and added a extension nut to raise the strings so that the guitar could get in touch with its dobro nature when Bill brought it to the jams.

dobro

On this day in 1974, Bill bought the new dobro-enlightened guitar for the first time to sit in with Dave and Charlie. Here are two tracks from the tape of that night, first, Dave’s rendering of “Mary Golden Tree” (1974) (a variation of “The Golden Vanity”) and then Charlie and Dave doing the then-new John Prine piece, “Everybody” (1974). The dobro was only a short-time diversion with The Flood, but Bill would be back in a bit later to play upright bass for few of the goldest years of Floodishness.

Nov. 1, 1974: The core of what would become The 1937 Flood -- David Peyton, Roger Samples and Charlie Bowen -- introduced their first real arrangement of a tune ("If I Had a Troubadour," Nov. 1, 1974) during a party at the Bowens' house in the South Side of Huntington.

1974The guys had been jamming together off and on for several years at that point. Dave and Rog had played as a duo in the late '60s and early '70s when Rog was still a Marshall University student and Dave was a young reporter at The Huntington Advertiser. Samples moved away about the same time that Charlie and Pamela moved back to Huntington in January 1971, and soon afterward Dave and Charlie picked regularly. When occasionally Roger would drift back into town and the three of them would play.

It was all very casual in those earliest days -- variations on "parkin' lot pickin'," focused only on tunes they already knew -- but that summer of 1974, the three of them started acting more like a band. They practiced regularly, brought new tunes into the mix, worked on harmony vocals and begun to solidify actual arrangements that would be more or less predictable each time they played.

All that energy and effort came together first in this tune from The Flood's dusty archives, the boys' version of Tom Paxton's "Wish I Had a Troubadour," from his 1969 album, "The Things I Notice Now." They rolled out this rendition at that party in autumn 1974, featuring solos by Roger and Dave and vocals by Charlie.

Want more? Here's a Flood Legacy film, "Roger Samples' First Bash," about that extraordinary weekend:

 

STORIES:

-- Loving Mother Maybelle. During a second visit with the Red Barn Radio folks, David expands on the story of his 40-year love affair with the Autoharp (and with Mother Maybelle Carter), speaking with host Arthur Hancock during the show.

Nov. 2, 1974: Dave and Rog recorded the first Flood classic, their duet rendition of Aunt Jennie Wilson’s beautiful “Banks of the Old Guyan” (Nov. 2, 1974) The setting was the second day of thatthree-day Bowen Bash. As a reporter for The Dave-Rog-JennieHuntington Advertiser, Dave had met banjo-playing Aunt Jennie in Logan County a few years earlier, had interviewed her a number of timesfor stories and, along the way, had fallen in love with her music.

When he and Rog starting playing as a duo in the pre-Flood days of the early 1970s, Dave just naturally brought a number of Jennie’s tunes to the mix. Roger — who always had the heart and head of an arranger/composer — created this extraordinary musical setting for the ring of Dave’s vocals on “Banks,” and as we look back and listen today, we know how fortunate we are that Stewart Schneider, running the recorder at most of the bashes over the next decade, pushed all the right buttons at just the right time to capture it.

STORIES:

-- Our String Band Model. Asked during a 2012 interview where The Flood got its tunes, Charlie expounded on the band's channeling of the original mountain string bands, embracing a broad spectrum of songs and styles.

-- Raggin' on Roger. There's a fine Flood tradition that we rag on anyone who's not the room when it's happening. A sample is this moment from an Aug. 29, 1997, episode of Joe Dobbs' "Music from the Mountains" show, when Joe mentions that Roger was a founding member of the band.

 

DaveDec. 24, 1974: David Peyton was named amoung only five journalists across the nation to be a 1975 recipient of an Alicia Paterson Foundation fellowship for a year's travel and study.

The Huntington Publishing Co. announced the 31-year-old Peyton would take a year's leave from his position as editorial page editor of The Advertiser to study and compare the cultures of Appalachia and Cajun Louisiana, beginning he following April.

"Dave Peyton is uniquely qualified to reearch this subject,' publisher N.S. "Buddy" Hayden said. "His great interest and his considerable knowledge of Appalachian have been evident to our readers for some time. Now many others will benefit from his dedication." Click here for a .pdf of The Herald-Dispatch story announcing the award.

Three months later, as David prepared to launch the project, he sat down with Advertiser reporter Lin Chaff to discusss the work ahead. Click here for a .pdf for that story, published March 31, 1975.


1975

1974-Dave-CharlieFeb. 7, 1975: On a wintry Friday evening, David and Charlie headed across the border to do a set at the Catacombs Coffeehouse at the Ashland Community College in Kentucky. The Catacombs had a long history with us. Charlie and Pamela had been instrumental in creating the coffeehouse in the spring of 1967, when Charlie was still a student at ACC. And it was at the same venue that the Bowens first heard Roger and David picking at a benefit concert four years earlier, an evening that in many ways was the beginning of The Flood’s story.

On this February 1975 evening, Nancy McClellan and Barbara Edwards invited Charlie and Dave to do some of the tunes they had been experimenting lately. As this seven-minute audio from the evening illustrates, the the guys also were still experimenting with names. Since they were both reporter-types, they were lately calling themselves “The Liberated Mountain News,” but being antelope lovers (and generally getting a charge out of themselves in those days), they insisted on spelling that last word “gnus.” The ultimate name of The Flood wouldn’t come for another or so, after Joe joined the aggregation. (That Flood legend is told elsewhere.)

Here are a few tunes from the ACC evening (“Way Downtown,” “Please Don’t Bury Me,” “Take a Whiff Off Me,” Feb. 7, 1975).

And here another from the same night -- "July You're a Woman," Feb. 7, 1975.

Feb. 14, 1975: After a year of playing together, Charlie and David started looking for new material to work on beyond their main interests in folk music and for a brief time landed on The Lovin' Spoonful's catalog. (Only later did they realize that the Spoonful had been as heavily influenced by jug band tunes as The Flood would be.) From a Friday night at the Peyton place is the Peyton-Bowen take on a John Sebastian composition. ("Lovin' You," Feb. 14, 1975).

Feb. 23, 1975: For several years, David and Charlie had regularly jammed with The Kentucky Foothill Ramblers, learning an untold number ofgreat tunes from dear friends in this seminal string band, from the old gold of Uncle Dave Macom and Charlie Poole to classic re-imaginings by the New Lost With RamblersCity Ramblers. Usually these picking sessions took place in the privacy of parties at Charlie and Pamela’s house, or at Dave and Susan’s Mount Union manor or at the Spring Valley home of KFR founder David Holbrook.

But occasionally, the players would take the picking to more public platforms. For instance, on this particular winter’s Sunday night, the bunch of them headed over to Marshall University’s coffeehouse at the Campus Christian Center for an evening of rare religious music, ranging from old hymns and psalms to rollicking spirituals.

A highlight of evening was Dave’s rendering of “Call Him Up (Jesus on the Mainline)," Feb. 23, 1975, a number he first heard a few years earlier at a snake handlers’ church that he found in rural West Virginia while working on a story as a reporter The Herald-Advertiser. The song, beloved among our circle of singers, would end many of a picking session in the next decade.

Historical sidetone: In this particular recording from the Marshall coffeehouse, if you listen closely, you’ll hear a 4-year-old Dave Peyton Jr. singing along. (Yep, like Socrates, we’re answerable to the charge of corrupting the youth….)

March 22, 1975: Charles lugged his suitcase-sized reel-to-reel tape recorder to the Peytons’ place, and David and Charlie sat down to record some of the tunes they had begun working on as a duo. The results show how diverse their musical influence were. The first number in this 10-minute audio track ("Reuben," "Mole's Moan" and "Diamond Joe," March 22, 1975) is Dave's version of Aunt Jenny Wilson's tune, “Reuben.” By the way, this seems to be a fairly rare Aunt Jenny; we've not found another cover of it. That's followed by an instrumental, their version of Geoff Muldaur's “Mole's Moan,” which we'd heard on Tom Rush's class album, but learned from the generous sharing by Jim Strother who actually did the heavy lifting, working out the tune after hours of diligent LP listening. The final track on the audio is an Eric Von Schmidt composition called “Rattlesnake Preacher,” the story of the mysterious Diamond Joe who could “make the men folk weave and moan, make them women shout.” We thought it resonated with some of Dave's recent reporting on West Virginia and Kentucky snake handlers.

Incidentally, this recording was almost a month to the day before Dave and Charlie's fateful meeting of Joe Dobbs and these are the kind of songs the fiddler heard the two of them playing when their paths crossed at Huntington's annual Dogwood Arts and Crafts Festival.

April 24, 1975: Dave and Charlie first met fiddlin' Joe Dobbs under a circus tent down by the Ohio River where the city of Huntington held its annual Dogwood Arts and Crafts Festival in the first few years of the show before the Joe-1975civic arena was built.

On that day in April 1975, Dave and Charlie, who had been picking together regularly for a year or so by then, had just finished their work day in the newsroom of The Huntington Advertiser and headed down to the festival encampment near the floodwall to play some tunes for the crafts people.

As Joe later recalled the encounter in his autobiography, "A Country Fiddler," Joe and his wife, Amy, were checking out the crafts when they spied a woman weaving cane in the bottoms of ladder-back chairs that she sold. "Sitting in two of the completed chair was a tall man playing a Guild guitar and short guy playing an Autoharp," Joe wrote. "Both of these musicians looked to be about 30 years old, a hippy version of Mutt and Jeff. The guitar player had medium long hair and an untrimmed beard. The Autoharp player wore a beard but his hair was neatly trimmed. They seemed to be very good friends." Joe himself was quite memorable too that day, in his bib overalls and Chuck Taylor tennis shoes and with, of course, a coffin-like wooden fiddle case under his arm.

In the book, Joe reports he was reluctant to ask to sit in, thinking his fiddling had gotten a bit rusty in recent years, so instead, he pulled up a finished chair next to Dave and started taking his fiddle out of the case. Initially, no one said a word, until after a moment Joe said, "Would you play an A chord, please?" At first, Joe played along quietly behind some of the tunes Charlie and Dave had worked out, then Dave said, "So, you know 'Soldier's Joy'?" Of course he did. Soon the three of them had drawn a crowd. By summer, Joe was jamming regularly with Dave and Charlie; soon, not wanting to be left out, Roger Samples, the other founder of The Flood, was driving into from Mason County, WV, to be part of it all.

This important evening also was featured in this entry in Flood Watch.

If you'd like to listen to a randomly selected playlist of Joe Dobbs tunes from his 40 years with The Flood, check out this Joe Channel on our Radio Floodango feature.

STORIES:

-- Joe Remembers the Earliest Floodings. During a break on an August 1997 broadcast of his "Music from the Mountains" radio show, Joe chats with David and Charlie about meeting them at the Huntington arts and crafts festival, about the weekend-long music parties of the 1970s and of how The Flood got its name.

-- Meeting Joe in 1975. Joe's daughter, Diane, remembers how her dad met Charlie and David at the Dogwood Arts and Craft festival.

-- Discovering His WV Home. Talking with Buddy Griffin on his "Mountain Air" radio show in Glenville, Joe reflected on coming to West Virginia in 1967 and falling in love with The Mountain State.

 

tapeSept. 5-6, 1975: The new, improved Flood — by now expanded to feature its first tribal elder, the 42-year-old Joe Dobbs, on fiddle (ah, adult supervision!) — made its first public appearance. This would inaugurate Joe's four decades of Floodishness. The venue was a weekend-long party at Pamela and Charlie’s house in the South Side of Huntington, a bi-annual event that regulars called “The Bash.” As noted, Joe had met Dave and Charlie the previous April and had jammed with them and Roger throughout the summer and by September 1975, they had tunes worked out together to share The Bash’s regulars. Here are two numbers from that magical weekend ("Blow of Your T.V." and "Gospel," Sept. 5, 1975). First, Rog leads the way on a John Prine tune was still relatively new in those days, “Blow Up Your TV.” Then Dave steps up with a tune that we learned from the great old Goose Creek Symphony called “The Gospel.” Meanwhile, the first recording of a Joe Dobbs solo piece with The Flood was at the same party. Here's Joe's September 1975 rendering of "Sail Away Ladies" (Sept. 6, 1975) with Roger, Dave and Charlie as the supporting cast.

Want more? Here's a Flood Legacy film, "Joe Dobbs' Coming Out Party," about that extraordinary weekend:

 

Nov. 11, 1975: In the winter of ’75-’76, the Peytons — David and Susan and their 4-year-old son Davy — had temporarily left the hills and valleys of West Virginia for the swamps and bayous of Louisiana. David had received a fellowship from the Alicia Patterson Foundation for a year’s research on “Cajun and Appalachian: Two Cultures in Transition.” Therefore, most of October through March they spent working in and around Lafayette, La., which meant leaving Peyton Place, their beautiful home on Huntington’s Mount Union Road, unoccupied.

Peyton HouseThat’s when Roger rode to the rescue. He was, after all, standing in need of a place to live, being between marriages in the autumn of 1975.

The situation — Rog rattling around a big house alone, Joe newly initiated into the Family Flood and eager try out new sounds, Charlie always looking for an excuse to pick — prove to be a creative time for the young band. Throughout winter, whenever the weather permitted, they got together, once or sometimes twice a week, sometimes in twos, sometimes three, or sometimes all four. (Occasionally, when the Peytons got homesick and came back a weekend, Dave also brought his Autoharp.) Tape recorders were usually present and when they had the presence of mind to push the buttons, a record was preserved of some of the new tunes they were trying out.

Here are a couple of tunes that Roger, Joe and Charlie were crafting that winter, starting with a number from Billy Joel's debut album, "You Are My Home" followed by one of Rog's fevered dreams. That latter is a wild mashup of an old folk song and a little-known Beatles tunes, "Buffalo Gals / Dear Prudence," (Nov. 11, 1975) To cap off his creation, Roger's Buffalo Gals blended the langue of disco ("get down and boogie") with something decidedly country ('til the cows come home!")

STORIES:

-- Housesitting for the Peytons. On a November 2002 solo appearance on Joe's"Music from the Mountains" show, Rog Samples remembers housesitting for Dave and Susie Peyton during the winter of 1975-76 and jamming with Joe.

Nov. 28, 1975: ... Or sometimes, Rog -- tired of roaming around the Peyton house with just Josephine the Cat for company -- would come over to the Bowens' place for the evening, and usually Bob Dylan tunes were on his mind. Here, on a chilly Friday night, Rog and Charlie drift through a slow, meditative rendition of one. ("Tomorrow is a Long Time," Nov. 28, 1975.)

Dec. 7, 1975: Roger and Charlie each were experimenting with some songwriting in the winter of '75. None of the tunes born that cold season ever made it into The Flood’s long-running repertoire, but listening to them today reminds of a quite time when a couple of 20-somethings had it all figured out. First on this track is Roger Samples’ composition “Magic Man.” (Rog taught Charlie how to sing the lead and suggested what he wanted Joe to do on the fiddle, then he concentrated on the harmony and, of course, his beautiful guitar work.) Following that is a Bowen tune, “Charlie,” which shows just how much the boys were channeling the Simon and Garfunkel groovy feelin' vibe that winter.

Dec. 26, 1975: In the early years of The Flood, we jammed as often in Susan and David’s living room as the Bowens' house. That was especially true in the winter of 1975-'76, when the Peytons had gone off to Louisiana for Dave's Alicia Patterson Fellowship work. Meanwhile, here from the archives are a couple of recordings from a night when Charlie and Stew trekked out to Peyton Place for the evening while the Peytons were home temporarily from Dave's research work in Lafayette. On the first cut, Stew’s bass and Charlie’s guitar back up Dave on a tune he had already been playing for years as a solo piece, the old English folk song “John Riley. Following that is a song they had just started tackling, Charlie’s stab at the Lovin’ Spoonful tune, “Sittin’ Back Lovin’ You.”

1976

Jan. 29, 1976: Folk music was the foundation of The Flood's earliest years, nothing illustrates better than recordings from the Peytons' Place on this wintry Thursday night. This track starts with a great old Eric Andersen composition (that The Flood was revisit 40 years later for its Live, In Concert album), followed by a classic blues piece (that also would have a new life on a later Flood CD, this time on the 2003 I'd Rather Be Flooded album.) Here are "Dusty Boxcar Wall" and "Trouble in Mind," Jan. 29, 1976, with Stew Schneider on bass accompanying Rog and Charlie on guitars and vocals.

Feb. 2, 1976: During the long cold winter of house-sitting for the Peytons, Roger was experimenting with a lot of new material. One Monday night at Dave and Susie's Mount Union Road house, Rog introduced Charlie and Stew to his new arrangement of the Lesley Duncan composition "Love Song," which they'd both first heard on Elton John's 1971 "Tumbleweed Connection" album. The song didn't last in the Floodisphere, but for a while it offered some interesting opportunities for vocal harmonies and, of course, Roger's spot-on guitar work. ("Love Song," Feb. 2, 1976).

May 16, 1976: The Flood recorded its first jugband tunes ("Jug Band Music" and "Rag Mama", May 16, 1976), stirring in perhaps the most important ingredient to the witchy brew that would become The Flood’s music.

1976


Up until 1975, The Flood (then just three years old) had been playing what most hippy-born string bands in Appalachia played: traditional folk songs (“Gypsy Davy” and “John Riley”), Dylan tunes (“Girl from the North Country,” “Don’t Think Twice”), new songs by John Prime, Steve Goodman, Arlo Guthrie, even a smattering of “radio songs” from James Taylor, Elton John and Pure Prairie League, Marshall Tucker Band. Meanwhile, Joe, who had joined us less than a year earlier, had brought a fine repertoire of fiddle tunes for us to explore, and of course, Dave continued to contribute some great numbers from that West Virginia original, Aunt Jennie Wilson. All of that seemed like such a ripe, rich variety of music that would sate us for years. Who needed anything else?

But then came the autumn of 1975. Starting in October, Roger moved into the Peytons’ place on Mount Union Road to house-sit for the next six months (while David and Susan were in Louisiana, where Dave was working on an extended Alicia Patterson project down in Cajun country). That half year proved very fertile for The Flood. Every few days, Joe would come by to jam with Rog; when he didn’t, Charlie did. Sometimes Stew would join them; sometimes all four of them would pick. About the same time, Charlie started revisiting albums he had been introduced to in the late 1960s by his friend Dwight Collins: the crazy, wonderful music of Jim Kweskin & The Jug Band. This led him to the music of Stefan Grossman and Peter Siegel’s Even Dozen Jug Band, and then back to their source material, the old recordings by Gus Cannon’s Jug Stompers, the Mississippi Sheiks, the Memphis Jug Band and so many others.

When Charlie began bringing a few of these zany tunes to the picking sessions on Mount Union Road, new lights came on. “I remember talking to one old guy,” Joe commented a bit later, “who told me the happiest music he ever made was the stuff he played back in the 1920s!” The Flood set about to channel that vibe. It gave the guys songs that almost no one else was playing. When Peyton got back in the spring, he was greeted with an entire new section of The Flood canon to teach his Autoharp. Needless to say, he wa a quick study and caught up quickly.

Here are the first two jug band tunes The Flood ever recorded: “Rag Mama” and “Jug Band Music (Certainly Was a Treat to Me!)” recorded at Dave and Susie’s house before their return from Louisiana. There are Rog and Charlie on guitars and vocals, Joe on fiddle and Stew on bass.

If you'd like to listen to a randomly selected playlist of The Flood's jug band and general good-time tunes from the following decades, check out this Hokum Channel l on our Radio Floodango feature.

STORIES:

-- Our Jug Band Beginnings. Telling Flood lore to the newer memories of the band, Charlie recalls that fall, winter and spring when the new jug band music came into the mix.

May 31, 1976: The Peyton family came back from David's Alicia Patterson Foundation research much moved by their experiences in Cajun country in and around Lafayette, La. We knew that from their stories, but also from the music that Dave had become interested in. For instance, on the reel-to-reel recordings that served as a kind of audio diary for The Flood's earliest days, the very first tune recorded by Peyton after the family's return to Huntington that spring was a melancholy Cajun folk song called "Salangadou," a Creole lament from the bayous that speaks of a distraught mother searching for her lost d aughter. David didn't sing the song often -- in fact, this is our only recording of it -- and that's a shame because once you hear it, you probably won't forget it. Accompanying David on this track are Charlie on guitar and Stewart on bass.

July4-1976July 4, 1976: The Flood has many fine Independence Day memories — gigs at fairs and festivals, private parties, even jamming with the Huntington Symphony Orchestra down by the riverside — but the finest was also the earliest. As the nation was celebrating its bicentennial, The Flood was invited to take part in a huge Fourth of July community picnic in Huntington’s Ritter Park, sponsored by the Huntington Publishing Co., where the Bowens and the Peytons had cast their journalistic fates. The community party was the brain child of the Huntington newspapers’ new publisher, N.S. “Buddy” Hayden, who asked Dave and Charlie if they had any musical friends who would like to take part. They grinned; yeah, they said, they could scrounge up somebody.

Joe had been playing with us for less than a year at this point and this would be his first public performance with the fledging Flood. (It’s hard to imagine it now, but the Family Flood’s tribal elder was only 40 when he was reeled in…)

Joining David, Joe and Charles for that strolling gig was Floodster Stew Schneider. Stew had been hanging with The Flood since its earliest days, having been a regular at the “Bowen Bash” music parties in the early 1970s. It was at those three-day gatherings that the band was the born in the smoke and beer of all-night jam sessions. As seen in this photo, taken near the arched entrance to Ritter Park, Stewart played bass in the early days of his Floodishness, though by the end of the decade he had switched to harmonica.

Incidentally, the headwear in this picture was supplied by the picnic organizers; as surprising as it is, The Flood did not — and does not — have a reservoir of straw hats.

Meanwhile, also near the Flood zone on that Independence Day 1976 was a future Floodster. Tenor banjoist Chuck Romine was leading his local dixieland contingent, The Lucky Jazz Band, on stage in another part of the park. We didn’t hear Chuck that day nor did he hear us — in fact, it would be 25 years before we all hooked up — but it was Chuck’s old dixieland roots that inspired our nickname for him when he was drawn into The Flood in the early 21st century: Doctor Jazz.

The community picnic was a great success, with thousands of people coming to the park that day. In fact, a reporter friend who had started with all of us but gone one to bigger and brighter things at The Washington Post commented, "The Post had been looking all over the country looking for great local celebrations. I could have just come home!"

STORIES:

-- Remembering Those Early Days. On a 2002 episode of his "Music from the Mountains" radio show on W.Va. Public Radio, Joe reflects on the earliest days of the band.


Nov. 8, 1976: Still was in its infancy in 1976, The Flood was established by founders who also had other musical affiliations in those early days. David Peyton and Roger Samples, for instance, had played as a duet before The Flood happened, and Roger had long performed with his siblings Mack and Ted in The Samples Brothers Band. Bill Hoke was a central figure in the string band called The Kentucky Foothill Rambler and later would team up with Joe Dobbs to create a lovely trio with guitarist/singer Margaret Ray. Joe also performed with his brother Dennis, literally traveling around the world as a trio with folk singer/dulcimer standout Mary Faith Rhoads.

So it wasn’t all that unusual in late ’76 when Charlie Bowen and Stew Schneider reached out to composer/singer/guitarist John Koenig to form a group called Front Royal. Destined for living rooms and music parties rather than bars and concert stages, the band was primarily devoted to performing original compositions, including a number of Koenig-Bowen collaborations, though it also had a little stable of cover pieces (mostly by Michael Franks, Tim Hardin and James Taylor.) Here’s a moment from that slice time. Snooping around to see what the boys were up to, Joe dropped in unannounced on a practice session one Monday night and found the threesome working on a Jimmy Buffett piece. In a flash, he unpacked his fiddle to sit here. Here’s a taste, complete with a cool vintage bit of laid-back Dobbsness in the middle. (“Pencil-Thin Mustache,” Nov. 8, 1976).

Front Royal

Nov. 24, 1976: In the autumn of 1976, Joe and his brother Dennis were just firming up plans for what would become a West Virginia institution: their famed Fret ’n Fiddle music store. “Though we opened the store with less than $200,” Joe later recalled in his book Country Fiddler, “we had a backlog of repair work. It was our only income in the beginning.” But they also had something else: a lot of local good will.

Fret n FiddleBy then, Joe had been in our circle for only about a year and a half — David and Charlie had met him at Huntington’s Dogwood Arts and Crafts Festival in April 1975 — but he already was a mainstay in the new Flood. Joe and Dennis — who had just moved his family to West Virginia from Louisiana — were also jamming regularly with The Flood’s extended family of friends, like Susan and David Holbrook, Bill Hoke, Jack Nuckols and Ron Sanders of The Kentucky Foothill Ramblers, Buddy Griffin and The Samples Brothers, Bob and Cathie Toothman, and many more.

The Dobbs brothers were still a few months away from inviting the public in, but it was only natural while the store was still aborning that they would call on The Flood and friends to come out and bless the new enterprise. It was the night before Thanksgiving, come they did! Pickers and singers filled the new little shop in the space the Dobbses had rented in a yellow brick building at 524 West 14th Street in Huntington’s Old Central City district. It would be the first of many jam sessions in that special spot before Fret 'n Fiddle moved to new locations, eventually settling for good in St. Albans, WV.

Incidentally, also on hand that night was artist Sue Wroblewski, who sat in the corner making charcoal sketches of the goings-on. Among the images Sue saved on her pad that evening was this sketch of Charlie and Dave in mid-jam. Joe's daughter, Diana Johnson, remembers Sue -- a Michigan native then living with her husband and children at Mam-Maw Lake in East Lynn, WV -- also designed the Fret 'n Fiddle logo that Joe use the rest of his life. Besides sketches, Sue also restored old photos, custom-painted motorcycles and helmits and painted murals on vans.

1977

March 7, 1977: After working quietly in the background for three or four months, the Dobbs brothers — Joe and Dennis — were finally ready to invite the public into their new shop, Fret ’n Fiddle, in a cozy little space on Huntington’s West 14th Street, and they turned to their friend, David Peyton, to help spread the word.

1977 HD FnF

The shop earlier had had a “soft opening” when it was blessed by a Thanksgiving weekend jam with Peyton and the rest of The Flood, along with extended musical family and friends. Now FnF was officially opening for business, Dave reported that Monday morning with a story on The Herald-Dispatch’s local section front, a piece topped with a classic Dave Peyton eye-grabbing lead:

   Dennis Dobbs tenderly cradles a 10-year-old Martin guitar in his arms. He adjusts the clamps on the guitar body where he has repaired a bullet hole.

Joe loved that story and was still referring to it decades later. “Just think,” Dennis told Dave for the March 1977 report, “the story this guitar could tell if it could talk.”

The story, featuring a Frank Altizer photo of Dennis patching the bullet hole while Joe works on the viola, illustrates the shop's original orientation toward instrument repairs; this was years before the shop expanded its focus to also include instrument sales, music lessons and more. And of course, the shop also served as a central meeting place for Tri-State string players. “We're not out to make a whole lot of money,” Joe told Dave for the piece. “We think pickers are the finest people in the world. And there's no better way to meet them than to repair their instruments.”

Fret 'n Fiddle would remain at 524 W. 14th St. until the early 1980s, then, after a brief relocation to Huntington's Heritage Village downtown, would make its final leap to the greener pastures of downtown St. Albans.

This was also featured in this entry in Flood Watch.

Joe and Rog

March 17, 1977: Toward the end of his 82 years, Joe Dobbs was fond of saying, “You know, I think I’ve finally learned how to play this fiddle.” Okay, but those of us fortunate enough to have known Joe at the mid-point of his life were pretty impressed with what he already knew.

Here’s evidence: two tunes in a recording from a party at the Bowens’ house. The first is a rendering of Bill Monroe’s “Jerusalem Ridge” (March 17, 1977) that Joe and Roger worked out in a winter’s worth of woodshedding. Then here that are doing "Rattlesnake Hornpipe" at the same party.

Want more? Here's a Flood Legacy film, "Something New, Someting Old," about that extraordinary weekend, the March 1977 Bowen Bash:

 

STORIES:

-- Roger in the Winter of '76-77: Charlie recalls how he and Roger learned two songs in the horrible winter of 1976-77, "The Dutchman" and "Spoon River" while hunkering down in The Coldest House in Huntington.

 

July 4, 1977: The Flood is invited back to play at the second big Independence Day picnic in Huntington's Ritter Park, sponsored by the Huntington Publishing Co.

1977, July 4

July 22, 1977: The Flood played at Huntington’s old Memorial Field House, one of several local bands opening for West Virginia country music legend Little Jimmy Dickens who was in town to headline a benefit concert sponsored by Cabell County Sheriff Ted T. Barr. Reporting on the evening in his regular column in The Herald-Dispatch a week later, Dave wrote about socializing and jamming backstage with the Bolt, WV, country star before the show. Dave described how Jimmy joined in on the chorus when the band played and sang, “I’ll Be All Smiles Tonight,” and how he listened intently to the words of “Barbara Allen,” and then how he told Joe, “Play ‘Sally Goodin’ and then I’ll leave you alone.” Floodster Roger Samples could not drive in from Mason County, WV, to join us for this particular gig, so Joe’s brother, Dennis Dobbs, stood in for him, offering up beautiful guitar solos when The Flood took the stage at the field house. About a year earlier, Dennis moved up from Texas so that he and Joe could open their Fret ’n Fiddle music store on Huntington’s West 14th Street. A few days before the Little Jimmy Dickens concert, H-D photographer Lee Bernard came by the store to get these pictures of Dave and Charlie, Joe and Dennis practicing for the show.

Little Jimmy

STORIES:

-- Remembering Little Jimmy. Thirty-five years after our one gig at Memorial Field House, we were still talking about the night we opened for Little Jimmy Dickens, as demonstrated in the 2012 reunion with Dennis Dobbs at a Flood jam session.

July 30, 1977: The wonderful, crazy three-day music parties at which The Flood was born and nurtured in its first years went public with a concert at The Huntington Museum. To host what would become a series of annual public bashes, The Flood was invited by the locally legendary Roberta Emerson, director of The Huntington Museum of Art.

1977 bash

How it came about is interesting. Barbara and John Koenig were regulars at those parties, and John was a third of the group Front Royal (with Charlie and Stew), which also performed in the parties. Barbara worked at the museum and told Roberta about all the great music she heard as these gatherings. Now, Roberta believed that the culture cooked up at "The Huntington Galleries" (as it was called in those days) could go stale without a little local seasoning, so she called for homegrown string band music to freshen the mix. Because of Roberta's vision, we saw amazing things from the amphitheater stage that night, such as sight of boys in tuxedos sitting next to girls in bib overalls.

David and Charlie kicked off the weird and wonderful evening with a few tunes, then we gradually stirred in more musicians. The Flood came together, first with Stew and Roger joining them at the mikes, then Stew and Bill.

Before the night was over, dozens of local musicians had crossed the stage -- Dave Holbrook and The Kentucky Foothill Ramblers, Bob Toothman, Mack and Ted Samples joined Rog to perform as the Samples Brothers, John Koenig came to do some Front Royal songs with Charlie and Stew and more -- ending with a massive sing-along reminiscent of the hootenanny days of the 1960s.

STORIES:

-- Don't Think About Your Thumb. Charlie tells the two-part story of "Hello, sailor, new in town?" that traced its origins to this particular show.

Here's a tune from The Flood's set early in the evening, with Joe leading us on “Sweet Georgia Brown,” (July 30, 1977) accompanied by Dave on Autoharp, Charlie on guitar and Stew on bass. And do you want more? Here's chapter 6, the relevant episode, from the 2021 Flood legacy film series on the Bowen Bashes:

 

Sept. 2, 1977: An early version of Flood Lite -- the trio of Bill Hoke along with Charlie and Joe -- performed a few tunes as part of the grand opening ceremonies of Heritage Village in downtown Huntington. The performance took place in a venue that The Flood would visit many times over the next four decades: the beautiful gazebo behind the historic gazeboB&O depot. Incidentally, fellow Floodster Dave Peyton also was on hand, but not picking with us that afternoon because he was busy working his journalist hat, covering the event for a story that would be in The Herald-Dispatch that Labor Day weekend.

The Flood has another tight connection to Heritage Village. The brains, the heart and soul of Huntington historic preservation projects has always been a prominent local couple named Jim and Mickey St. Clair. In fact, if you visit the gazebo today, you'll find their names proudly recorded on a brass plate posted there. Well, Jim and Mickey are, of course, the parents of long-time Flood harmonicat Sam St. Clair. Now, Sam just might have been in the audience for The Flood Lite performance that day, but we didn't meet him. In the autumn of 1977, our man Sam was just12 years old. It would take him another 20 years to find his way to The Flood.

Nov. 19, 1977: The Flood had a jam session that made headlines, first in Huntington, then around the state and ultimately across the nation. It all started that afternoon when Bowen, who was then city editor of The Huntington Advertiser, spotted U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd at a United Press International Byrdmeeting. Sidling up, Charlie asked the senator what key he fiddled "Soldier's Joy" in. "Why, D, of course," Byrd said. "Great," said Charlie. "Wanna play some music?" Byrd grinned. "Got an extra fiddle?"

It all sounded very casual. Actually, though, Bowen and Peyton had been plotting this maneuver for more than a week, ever since they had learned that Bob Byrd was coming to town. Now, just about everyone in West Virginia knew that Robert C. Byrd was a fine fiddler, that he had played most of his life, starting out in square dance bands as a teenager as he grew up in Raleigh County. But few people on the national level had a clue about Byrd's fiddling past, mainly because the senator had no time for music once he had become the U.S. Senate majority leader. But now the nation would know what we West Virginians knew.

On that day in 1977, as soon as the senator showed interest in jamming a bit, Dave and Charlie went to work. They called their Flood co-conspirator Joe Dobbs to come quickly to the Huntington newspaper office lunchroom and to bring along an extra fiddle and to pick up our buddy David Holbrook, who hands-down was the finest banjo picker we knew. Shortly before 4 that afternoon, the foursome was playing "Flowers of Edinburgh" when the senator and his assistants arrived, followed by dozens of newspaper employees who wanted to hear this. Byrd happily took the fiddle Joe handed it, said, "Get in A, boys," then launched into a tune called "Red Bird." That was followed by a half dozen more tunes, from "Old Joe Clark" and "Cumberland Gap" to "Amazing Grace" and "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot." After 45 minutes or so, Byrd said, "I have to go, boys. I really enjoyed it. I'd like to play some more some time." But, like any good musician, he couldn't leave the listeners wanting more. The crowd went crazy with his rollicking "Cripple Creek" encore.

Joe Dobbs grinned as his watched and listened. "I wish my grandma could be here now," Joe said. "She didn't think any fiddle player was worth a damn!" In the years come,

The Flood never knew what, if any, role that afternoon's jam session played in Byrd's decision the following year to come out with his debut album, "U.S. Senator Robert Byrd, Mountain Fiddler." After the LP's release, Byrd went on to perform at the Kennedy Center, on the Grand Ole Opry and on TV's "Hee Haw." And he continued to play publicly until 1982, when symptoms of a benign essential tremor began to affect the use of his hands. Sen. Byrd died in June 2010, and music was still a huge part of his legacy. Our friend Bobby Taylor, a West Virginia fiddle champion, played the senator's favorite tunes during a public visitation in the W.Va. capitol rotunda.

STORIES:

-- Picking with Bob Byrd. David and Joe share memories of the day. Hear how Joe's grandson thought his grandpa was playing with Captain Kangaroo!

1978

April 12-May 10, 1978: Joe Dobbs accompanied folk artist Mary Faith Rhoads on U.S. State Department tour of Africa with nearly 30 programs that took them through Tunisia, Sudan, Algeria, Niger, Upper Volta, Cameroon and Chad, as well as Egypt and the Ivory Coast. As Joe told writer Jim Hatlo for his story the next year in the second-ever issue of Frets magazine, he and his brother Dennis had met Mary a few years earlier at a West Virginia folk music festival, to which she had traveled from her New York City home. Soon afterward the three began doing occasional shows as Mary Faith Rhoads and the Dobbs Brothers. In September 1977, as the three were returning from attending the National Flat-Picking Championship in Winfield, Kansas, Mary was telling them about her concert experiences abroad (including gigs throughout France), and Joe quipped, “What From Fretyou need is a roadie who doubles on fiddle!” Less than three months later, Mary took him up on that. “Get your passport,” she said. “We’re going to Africa.”

Mary — an accomplished singer of traditional tunes, as well as a recognized authority of the hammered and mountain dulcimers and a player of guitar, banjo, concertina, piano, Autoharp and harmonica — had already done a solo trip to Saudi Arabia, Madagascar and Botswana. That three-week tour had gone so well that her sponsor, the U.S. Information Agency, invited her to make a longer tour in 1978, and to take second musician with her. Mary chose Joe. The state department made the appropriate travel arrangement and paid Joe and Mary concert fees at each stop. Because of the nature of the tour, they seldom found themselves giving large concerts, though they did make several university performances and performed on Algerian radio.

“One of the highlights was playing at the U.S. ambassador’s residence in Khartoum,” Joe told the magazine. “We really didn’t know how long we were supposed to play. We performed outside, and we found to later that there were lots of dignitaries there, ambassadors from a lot of different countries. When we finished they gave us a standing ovation, but I didn’t realize that was happening — I thought it was one of their local customs. What was really ironic was that after the program a man came up with his wife and two daughters. He was the Italian ambassador, and he said that he’d been to the Glenville State Folk Festival in Glenville, WV, back in 1963. He said he liked the music and said that if ever got back to the United States, he’d like to go to Glenville again. I told him that was where Mary and I had been the week before. I thought it was strange. Here we were on the banks of the Nile River, and this guy comes up and wants to know if we’re familiar with the Glenville State Folk Festival!”

As he would say many times over the decades, it was while touring Africa that Joe would realize, probably for the first time, that music is a universal language. “After we’d play, we’d sit down with people,” he told Hatlo, “and they couldn’t talk to me, but they felt that they knew me, and we felt like we knew one another, because we shared music together.”

If you'd like to read the entire three-page article from the April 1979 issues of Frets, click here.

Also the Huntington newspapers covered the tour, with these pieces you can read, an advance story by Sara Berkeley (Huntington Advertiser, March 21, 1978) and a followup report by Dave Peyton (Herald-Advertiser, June 5, 1978).

STORIES:

-- Of All the Gin Joints in All the World... Appearing on Buddy Griffin's "Mountain Air" radio show at Glenville State University in March 2003, Joe talks about meeting and touring with Mary Faith Rhoads, including a visit to Casablanca.

-- Ambassador Joe. Speaking with host Brad Becker during the band's 2009 appearance on Kentucky's Red Barn Radio, Joe recalls his trip to Africa with Mary Faith Rhoads.



Dave and DennisMay 5, 1978: After five or six years of being one of the “party bands” at the biannual “Bowen Bash” gatherings, The Flood found its weird tunes becoming standards — even sing-alongs — among that select community of esoteric music fans. So familiar had Floodishness become, in fact, that by now when some of the band members were absent, regular listeners could take up their parts.

Here’s a case in point, a Bowen Bash at which two key bandmates were not on hand, and yet the tunes rolled on, as this two-song ("June Apple," "Gospel" May 5, 1978), three-minute track attest.

The first is David’s performance of “June Apple,” which usually was a showcase for Joe’s fiddling. However, Joe wasn’t there that night; in his place was his baby brother Dennis Dobbs, flat-picking phenom who matched the regular fiddle solo note-for-note.

In second track, Dave takes off on his Goose Creek Symphony tune, “Gospel,” which ordinarily was a great duet opportunity for Rog Samples, who also wasn’t on hand that night. To save the day, an impromptu assemblage of partiers jumped in to fill the void with their own harmonies. You can hear David Holbrook calling Bill Hoke ("G.W.!") up to the mike to join in. Ah, we thought the party'd never end...

July 4, 1978: For the third time, David, Charlie and Joe headed down to Ritter Park to add some joy to the Huntington Publishing Co.'s Independence Day celebrations.

1978-Jul74

July 7, 1978: Joe and Dennis Dobbs performed at the opening dayof the annual Pocahontas County Mountain Music and Bluegrass Festival with hammer dulcimer player Mary Faith Rhoads. The performance was recorded and that West Virginia State Archives video was later incorporated in a West Virginia Public Broadcasting series calld "Sugar in the Gourd." Here's the video of that performance:

 
 

Dave-1978Aug. 26, 1978: The 1937 Flood was asked to host another party at The Huntington Museum of Art, following up on the series started the previous summer.

David Peyton kicked off that weird and wonderful evening with a solo set with his Autoharp. Then we gradually added more musicians. Roger Samples and Charlie Bowen joined Dave after a few tunes, then Dennis and Joe Dobbs and Stew Schneider came in.

Before the night was over, dozens of local musicians had crossed the stage -- The Kentucky Foothill Ramblers, the Samples Brothers, Front Royal -- ending with a massive sing-along reminiscent of the hootenanny days of the 1960s. And it all started with Dave and "Simple Gifts," which you can hear right here.

1979

Feb. 1, 1979: Associated Press Special Correspondent Jules Loh, who are traveling around the country in search of news feature subjecgs, was spending a week in West Virginia and landed in Huntington, gravitating to the new Fret 'n Fiddle shop for a national feature piece on Joe Dobbs. Click here to read the story.

May 5, 1979: The Flood did a little preaching, using as its text the Old Testament story of "Samson and Delilah." Actually, it was The Flood's take on a classic Rev. Gary Davis tune, a slightly milder version of which had appeared a decade and a half earlier on the first Peter, Paul and Mary album. But as you'll hear here, there was nothing mild about The Flood's "tear-it-down" rendition, complete with Roger' show-stopping guitar solo and Dave's cosmic commentary on everything from urban renewal to "old-fashioned head honey." How did this recording come to be?

Thereby hangs a tale. At that Saturday night party in May 1979, Joe had been telling the story of how Charlie had recently been mistaken for a fire-and-brimstone preacher. It was all because of the band's performance of this particular song a little earlier at Hannan High School in Mason Countyy, WV, where Roger was teaching. Rog had wrangled an invitation for The Flood to play at an assembly at the school, during which the "Samson" performance seemed to persuade some of the listeners of Bowen's Bible-thumping prowess. Well, the partygoers were skeptical -- to them nothing about Bowen seemed especially ministerial -- so they demanded a re-enactment.

For years afterward, recording of The Flood's take on "Samson" circulated on tape among friends; later the song wound up on the band's "Hip Boots: The Flooded Basement Tapes" CD. And now, nearly 40 years later, the tune refuses to die. Its latest incarnation in a video above, which the guys made for inclusion in the 2011 "Wade in the Water" DVD.

Meanwhile, if you'd like more from the May 5, 1979, Bowen Bash, below is the Flood Legacy Film that focuses on that magical weekend:

 

June 5, 1979: PM Magazine, a syndicated TV series with a news and entertainment format, aired a feature on Fret 'n' Fiddle, the then-2-year-old Huntington, WV, music store operated by Joe and his brother, Dennis. The feature, produced by the show's Steve Shannon, offered extensive interviews with both the brothers as they worked on repairing guitars and fiddles, then ended with some great footage of a typical Saturday jam session at the West 14th Street shop. Here is that complete seven-minute feature:

 

Aug. 19, 1979: On a brutally hot and muggy August Sunday afternoon, The Flood hunkered down in the air-conditioned living room of an old South South house in Huntington to play some tunes into a reel-to-reel tape recorder. After being primarily an impromptu “party band” for the first five or so years of its existence, The Flood had finally decided to get a little more serious about itself. It was broadening the repertoire and working on regular, dependable arrangements of tunes, but without forsaking the spontaneity that had made the picking fun in the first place. On this particular Sunday, Brother Peyton wasn’t in his pew — he and Susie were out of town — but there was nonetheless a healthy number of Floodsters in the congregation.

In addition, to "Mama Don't 'Low," featured in the video to the right, here's another tune from that hot/cool afternoon session. ("(When She Wants Good Lovin') My Baby Comes to Me," Aug. 19, 1979).

Joe, Rog and Charlie were on hand, of course, along with Bill Hoke on bass and Stew Schneider on harmonica. And joining them that day was Jack Nuckols, a veteran folk music, with mad skills on guitar, dulcimer and fiddle; however, for this recording, Jack went minimalist, turning to the simplest instrument imaginable.

As noted earlier, Charlie and Jack had known each other since high school, and in those day, Jack Nuckols was an extraordinary drummer — both in the marching band and in the jazz stage band — so it was only natural that for his Flood session, Jack held down the rhythm section. Here it is, “Mama Don’t ‘Low,” featuring Jack Nuckols and his irrepressible, irresistible spoons!

Sept. 29, 1979: When two good, long-time friends from Australia -- Rod and Judy Jones -- came into our lives, most of us met them literally on stage on this day. The occasion was the third public edition of the "Bowen Bashes." Two years earlier, our wonderfully crazy three-day music parties had taken on a public face when the folks at at the Huntington Galleries (now called the Huntington Museum of Art) invited us to stage a free public mini-version of the party at the museum in the style of the old 1960s hootenannies. The event went over so well, that it becme an annual late summer/early autumn event there for the next few years.Rod-JudyJones1979

The autumn of 1979 was the Joneses first visit to the States. In his book, A Country Fiddler, Joe describes meeting them at Fret 'n Fiddle, his and brothrr Dennis' shop in West Huntington. "I returned to the store after eating lunch." Joe wrote. "As I walked in, there was a couple playing and singing. The man looked to e in his thirties, wearing a yellow ball cap with 'CAT' written in black on the front and playing a guitar. The woman looked to be in her late twenties and was playing an old fiddle tune on the banjo. I stood there and listened. They played quite well. As they finished, Dennis said, 'Where do you think these musicians are from?' 'By the style they play, I would guess North Carolina,' I replied. But I was wrong. They were from Sydney, Australia. This was the first time I met Rod and Judy Jones. They were fans of Molly O'Day. Judy explained that it was their first visit to the U.S. and they had driven to Huntington especially to see her. Molly told them to visit the Dobbs brothers at the Fret 'n Fiddle before they left town. We had repaired several instruments for Molly and her husband, Lynn Davis. This was the beginning of a great friendship with the Joneses that resulted in two visits to Australia some twenty years later."

Rod and Judy were still in town that Saturday night when the "Gallery Bash," as we called it, was schedule, so Joe brought them along as surprise guest performers. Here's a track their set that night("Little Beggarman" or "Red Haired Boy," Sept. 29, 1979, with Judy on banjo, Rod and Joe on fiddles, Bill Hoke on bass and Margaret Ray on guitar.)

The Joneses regularly returned to the U.S. for autumn visits, and often their treks included sitting in with The Flood at the weekly jam sessions, sharing tunes they learned from their careful listening to American country music. In the spring in 2020, we celebrated these wonderful visits in an hour-long Jones-oriented "Pajama Jam" video, which you an see here.


The 1980s

1980

April 24, 1980: Huntington’s Dogwood Arts & Craft Festival has always been a sentimental favorite of The Flood. Back in the early 1970s, David and Charlie performed annually at the first few shows — in fact, the crafts fair was among their first public performances as a duo — and, of course, it was at the 4th Dogwood Festival in 1975 that they met Joe. For many years, music was a prime element of the annual festivities, and The Flood was always happy to do its bit.

Dogwood 1980

A particularly good Dogwood gig -- exactly five years to the day after meeting up with fiddler Dobbs -- was the 1980 show, when that original Peyton-Bowen aggregation tripled in size, with Joe, Rog, Bill and Stew joining them on Wallacestage.

The show also illustrated not only how diverse the boys’ repertoire had become by then, but also how the band’s instrumentation was expanding. Brother Dave, who had been studying Cajun first-hand in trips to Louisiana with Susan and David Jr., had been giving lots of thought to Cajuns’ use of the venerable washboard in their music and figured the same instrument — with some modifications — could give a new texture to The Flood’s jug band tunes. Starting in the autumn of ’79, he started experimenting and by the spring of the new decade, Wallace the Washboard was born, with a rich assortment of horns, kazoos, whistles, shakers and other implements of general grin-inducing rowdiness. Now he could switch from Autoharp to Wallace as the different tunes inspired him.

In this five-minute audio sample of the afternoon’s performance ("Marie," "Black Eye Blues," Soldier's Joy," April 24, 1980) you hear Dave demonstrating Wallace’s entire range of options. The track enters mid-song (and mid kazoo break) on “Marie (The Dawn is Breaking)” (“the moon … the moon!”), then segues into a raunchy Ma Rainey tune called “Black Eye Blues” (highly inappropriate for the daylight hours…) and wraps up with a Joe’s ripping and roaring rendition of “Soldier’s Joy,” a sprint that left half of us in the shade, though do listen to how Bill and David pace him note for note on the bass and Autoharp. Whew!

STORIES:

-- "Ruby, Get Your Fat Ass on the Train!" Charlie relates how he and Rog came up with a unique technique at this gig for determining if people were actually listening to what we played.

 

April 25-26, 1980: By the time Charlie and Pamela were were setting up for the latest edition of the Bowen Bashes, we knew that the winds of change in our circle of friends were rising to the level of at least a Category 3 hurricane. Divorces, new marriages, changing jobs – all were beginning to split up the group of people who had been central to the bash since its beginnings eight years earlier.

For instance, April 1980 would be the last time we'd hear H. David Holbrook's rollicking banjo at a bash. Later that year he and his new wife, Becky, would be leaving Huntington and moving south. Susan Lewis soon remarried too, and she would move west, to Louisville. Joe Dobbs and Roger Samples also had new marriages in sight. John Koenig, having married his love Barbara by then, already had taken a new job as the city editor of the newspaper in Marietta, Ohio. The couple's move north had effectively ended the brief Front Royal project, though John did reunite with Stew Schneider and Charlie Bowen for one last hooray at this particular party.

But while there were departures, there were also a lot of new arrival at this bash. For instance, Joe Dobbs and Bill Hoke teamed up with a remarkable young guitarist named Margaret Ray to form an exciting new trio called Fret 'n' Fiddle. The group had played a little at earlier gatherings, but the 1980 bash was its true debut as a band. Fret 'n' Fiddle gave Joe opportunities to expand his considerable skills as he regularly switched from fiddle to mandolin for some tunes, and he can even be heard singing a bit on the group's sweet three-part harmonies.

The Flood was expanding too. Bill had joined in on upright acoustic bass, Stew had switched to harmonica, and we even drew in Jack Nuckols from time to time as spoon player extraordinaire. But the most exciting new Floodster was non-human. Wallace the Washboard was a David Peyton creation, with which Brother Dave added a rich, fun buffet of horns, whistles, bells and kazoos to The Flood's jug band folderol.

Meanwhile, legendary West Virginia musician Buddy Griffin finally made his bash debut that spring, creating some serious memories with his fiery fiddling behind his friends in The Samples Brothers band. Of course, nowadays he's probably best known as an award-winning fiddler, but actually Buddy Griffin is a band unto himself, an expert on all the instruments in a string band. (In fact, a few years after this bash, he would release an album called “The Buddy Griffin Band,” in which he did indeed play all the instruments on its dozen tunes!) Here's a Flood Legacy film, "New Arrivals & Departures," about that wonderful weekend, the April 1980 Bowen Bash:

 

June 20-21, 1980: The third weekend in June found the original three Floodsters — Dave, Roger and Charlie — in Glenville, WV, for the West Virginia State Folk Festival. The boys had been “doin’ Glenville” for years by then. For Roger, it was always a family thing; after all, his brother Mack, a professor at Glenville College, managed the festival, and his brother Ted was a Glenville alum. No wonder The Samples Brothers Band is still legendary in this part of The Mountain State. And this particular Glenville 1980 weekend, Dave and Charlie became hippy-hold-out poster boys for the festival. The two arrived in town that Friday in the ultimate old hippy conveyance: a VW microbus, which Dave had recently bought from Rog. Dave parked the minibus on main street, then the guys slid open the side doors and broke out the instruments. No wonder they drew the attention of roving photographers. In fact, made made the front page of The Parkersburg News the next morning.

glenville

Another fun memory of that particular afternoon: when Roger arrived and the three of them jammed around the bus, an old man who may or may not have been deeply in his cups (memories differ) asked Roger, “Can you play that ‘Spanish Fandango’?” Something about that request tickled Rob’s funny bone and for years afterwards, in a lull between tunes, Roger — always an expert voice impersonator — would echo that request perfectly: “Boys, do that ‘Spanish Fandango’!”

Incidentally, Roger would later write a beautiful song — “Ladies Sail Away” — about those magical moonlit Glenville nights, memories of fiddlers and dancing girls dressed in gingham. In the summer of 2011, during an evening’s reunion with his old Flood comrades, Roger played the song again, as seen in this video shot by Pamela.

 

STORIES:

-- Source for "Ladies Sail Away" On a November 2002 solo appearance on Joe's"Music from the Mountains" show, Rog Samples discusses the source memories for his song "Ladies Sail Away."

1981

June 12, 1981: Rog Samples and Tammy Clark were married, with Joe and Charlie playing at the reception.

Sept. 19, 1981: The band played together in public for one of the last times before what would turn out to be a near decade-long drought of Floodishness. The occasion of the last of nearly 10 years of the semi-annual music parties called The Bowen Bash.

That September evening in 1981, no one knew for sure that change was coming, but there was definitely something in the air. Marriages were breaking up, and friends were moving away. Joe was moving Fret ’n Fiddle from Huntington to St. Albans. Roger was moving to Kentucky. Bill was heading to Virginia. Meanwhile, distractions were moving in. Stew got one of the first personal computers on the market. He hooked Charlie and Pamela. Charlie and Pamela hooked David. CompuServe, the online information service from Columbus, Ohio, hooked everybody with its modem-y goodness. Suddenly, music seems …. Oh, so 70’s…. Now, sure, after this last bash, there would still be occasional Flood reunions — we’d get together “once a season, whether we need it or not,” Charlie would tell Joe on his new “Music from the Mountains” radio show in a few years — but for all practical purposes, The Flood went into recess until the early 1990s.

But that was later.This partiular September night found The Flood is all its goofy glory, demonstrating the foundational foolishness at what would turn out to be the last of the Bowen Bashes, which had started nine years earlier. But that doesn’t mean the Bowen Bash era ended with a whimper. Far from it! That final gathering in September 1981 was one of the most memorable bashes on record, and there were even new faces and new sounds there. For instance, a wild, wonderful West Virginia guitar picker — the late, great Frank Beale — tagged along with the Samples Brothers Band to make his bash debut. Also cousins Bill Hoke and Susan Lewis, late of the Kentucky Foothill Ramblers, reunited for some stunningly beautiful duets that made memories for everyone who was on hand for that autumn weekend in Huntington’s South Side.

 

Sept. 20, 1981: Joe Dobbs surprised his storefront neighbors in Huntington’s West End when The Herald-Dispatch reported that Monday morning that the Fret ‘n Fiddle music store was moving from their Central City district to the relatively new Heritage Village. Joe actually had been thinking about such a move for a while. In fact, it was only months after Joe and his brother Dennis launched Fret ‘n Fiddle in early 1977 at 524 West 14th Street that Heritage Village opened in downtown Huntington.

“We wanted to be in the village for a long time,” Joe told H-D reporter Rod White, “but we just couldn’t make it work financially.”

But after four years, James McClelland, director of the Huntington of Park Commissioners, which operated Heritage Village, worked out a deal to facilitate the transition. The paper noted Joe and his daughter Diana, Fret ‘n Fiddle business manager, to oversee the move to a two-floor space in the village that previously had be a country store.They planned to use the first floor for sales and workshop and the second floor for jam sessions and music lessons.

1981

Fret 'n Fiddle would not stay long in Heritage Village – by 1983, Joe and new wife Linda would relocate to St. Albans, WV, and Fret ‘n Fiddle would find its permanent home at 809 Pennsylvania Ave. – but the village would play a continuing part in the story of The Flood’s and in Joe’s own story. For instance, it was in the new village digs that Joe began thinking of having regular workshops at the store. That October, for example, he brought in banjo king Bill Keith from Woodstock, NY, for a five-string teach-in.

It also was in the village shop that Joe started imagining the radio show that would eventually become West Virginia Public Radio's much-lauded “Music from the Mountain.” In fact, it was in the upper rooms of the village location where in 1982 The Flood recorded Joe's demo for pitching the idea of the show.

And of course, Joe would return to Heritage Village many times over the years for Flood event, last time being a stop on Joe's 2012 book tour.

1982

Oct. 3, 1982: Joe Dobbs and Linda G. Smith committed to marriage in a dawn ceremony in Huntington's Ritter Park Rose Garden at dawn at which Rog and Charlie performed. (They actually got a marriage license later, in Giles County, Va., on March 11, 1983.)

1983

Nov. 12, 1983: Joe’s “Music from the Mountains” show hit with West Virginia Public Radio air waves. Joe had a long history with radio — he had worked on the air in the West in the ‘50s and ‘60s and had been manager of a radio station in Albuquerque, New Mexico — but he hadn’t wanted to get back into that business. Not, that is, until he moved to West Virginia in the late 1960s and began hearing Appalachian musicians. When Joe and his brother, Dennis, opened Fret ’n’ Fiddle music store in West Huntington, Saturday morning jam sessions with local pickers became a staple. Ultimately, the brothers bought some decent recording equipment and began taping the music and pitching the idea of a show to WV Public Broadcasting. In the late summer of 1982, Joe called his Flood family together — Dave, Rog, Charlie and Bill Hoke — and in the shop produced a full-fledged promo for a show, complete with live music and interviews.


1990s-Joe

In the demo, Joe called the show “West Virginia R.F.D.” The name didn’t stick; He later selected “Music from the Mountains,” because, as he wrote in “A Country Fiddler,” his autobiography, he wanted a title “that would give me the freedom to air any type of acoustic music I wanted, such as a folk group or a string quartet.” The Flood segment — edited with the new show name inserted — would be among the first shows aired in the series that would run for the next two decades on WVPB. Here’s a 9-minute chunk of that initial show ("Mississippi Sawyer," "Rag Mama," Jug Band Music." 1983).

STORIES:

-- How "Music from the Mountains" Came to Be. During The Flood 2009 appearance on Red Barn Radio in Lexington, Ky., Joe tells host Brad Becker about how his own radio show, "Music from the Mountains" came into being.

 

1984

June 30, 1984: By 1984, we had begun to speak of The Flood in past tense, and it looks as if the band — after 10 years of rowdiness at parties, jam sessions and coffeehouses — would be put away with the other sweet things of childhood. That was certainly the mood when Roger and Charlie joined Joe on the radio for a couple of hours of talk and tunes in the summer of ’84. Here’s a 20-minute sample of that show (“Big Bad Bill,” “You Can Close Your Eyes,” “Down by the Sallie Gardens,” "My Dear Companion," “Fishin’ Blues,” 1984).

Charlie and RogerAt that time, Joe’s “Music from the Mountains” show was still brand new on West Virginia Public Radio, having started just seven months earlier. Initially Joe had followed a traditional format, simply playing recordings and talking about the music for his two hours every Saturday night from 8 to 10. However, increasingly Joe urged the network to let him bring West Virginia musicians into the studio to do live music on the show; when the bosses began to see the wisdom of his suggestion, Joe reached out to the pickers and singers he already knew, people like Mack Samples, Buddy Griffin, Sallie Sublette and, of course, his old bandmates in The Flood.

But by then, The Flood had become a sometimes kind of thing, playing “once a season, whether we need it or not,” as Charlie told Joe on the show. The truth was the Floodsters were all moving in different directions, perhaps sampling this idea of becoming adults, a notion that they had heard so much about. For instance, David and Charlie had begun writing books about personal computers for New York publishers like Bantam Books, exciting stuff but pretty time consuming, leaving little time for music. Roger and his wife Tammy, married two years by then, had their first baby, Emily, and their second child, son Kyle, was due in October. Stew Schneider — also married then, he and Kathy with a baby of their own — was busy with his career with the commonwealth attorney office in Kentucky and would soon be elected prosecutor. Bill Hoke was working at Cabell-Huntington Hospital, but plotting his own retreat; he soon would head to Abingdon, Va., and begin a new life with his wife Evelyn. And Joe had already moved away, relocating his Fret ’n Fiddle music store from Huntington to St. Albans.

So when Joe invited Roger and Charlie to co-host the MftM show that week, to pick a few tunes and tell a few stories, there was a hint of sadness in their voices. Of course, there was no way of knowing that this was not the end of The Flood, only the end of its first wave. In the ‘90s, the band would be back, eventually grower bigger than it ever was in its hippy salad days.

 

Click here to drift on to The Flood's Second Wave!