Parlor Pleasure

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Last week WRAL Meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner reminded me of a parlor scene in Lee Smith’s 2006 novel On Agate Hill. The conversation came up when I told Elizabeth about my parlor concert in one of Hillsborough’s historic homes yesterday. As I was driving from Cary to the Orange County town yesterday I thought how neat it would be if Smith and her husband Hal Crowther would attend my two hour performance. Smith and Crowther live in town just a few blocks away.

The beautifully restored home on W. Margaret Street was getting packed. At 3:55PM there were just two seats in the back that had not been taken. And you guessed it. That’s when Lee Smith, one of America’s great authors, and Hal Crowther, a brilliant journalist and essayist, walked through the door. That’s when I started to get a little nervous. The concert had two main elements: music and stories from my book Blue Ridge Reunion. How boring I thought my family stories would sound to someone whose intriguing plots of Southern life are revered by thousands and thousands of readers.

Everything turned out just fine. At a reception after the performance both Lee and Hal told me how much they enjoyed the stories especially. Hal could identify with the one about my mother tossing out my childhood baseball card collection. The same thing happened to him.

It was a wonderful afternoon and I appreciate so much the invitation from the Hillsborough Arts Council to perform. I loved the intimate setting. Bett and Bill Padgett of Raleigh have long hosted an excellent series of home concerts. It’s a great way to enjoy music on a deeply personal level. And you never know who might show up!

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