The worn, wooden floors of the music hall vibrated as boots stomped out the beat, the room pulsing with the clap of hands and intermittent brays of whistling and whoops. Adorned in his signature old-timey clothes — flat brimmed hat, suspenders and plaid shirt — Dom Flemons bellowed out the lyrics, “Going down the road, feeling bad, Lord, feeling bad.” His long fingers picked and strummed the strings of his guitar, a harmonica hanging around his neck, time suspended as if the crowd had been transported for the moment back to the golden age of folk and blues.
Flemons took the stage with his friend and touring partner Brian Farrow on March 31 at Muddy Creek Music Hall in Bethania on the outskirts of Winston-Salem. Formerly of the Grammy-winning old-time string group Carolina Chocolate Drops — which also featured Greensboro’s Rhiannon Giddens — Flemons has performed across the United States, upholding the old-timey folk and blues tradition in his performances. His setlist for the evening comprised a number of songs off his latest solo record Prospect Hill, as well as numerous covers by such ragtime and vaudeville musicians as Maggie Jones, Doc Watson and Martha Simpson, giving his own bluesy touch to the melodies.
Muddy Creek Music Hall was forced to open the back hall for seating, having sold out the show before the doors opened for the night. Audience members stood along the edges of the room, all the chairs and tables filled, leaving only a small amount of space for the couples who would periodically stand and begin to dance. And even with almost two-and-a-half hours of music, the crowd never let up their cheering and clapping as Flemons sang.
Farrow, a multi-instrumentalist, has performed alongside such acts as Jonny Grave, Paperhaus, the Hackensaw Boys and Letitia Van Sant. Most recently he has been performing with Flemons on his winter tour, the 31st bein g the closing night after almost three weeks on the road, before they could both return home for a short break.
Towards the end of the show, Farrow laid down his bass and took up the fiddle as Flemons plucked along on his guitar. The pair did a cover of the song “Sitting On Top of the World,” an old tune originally written by the Mississippi Sheiks, covered through the years by several acts including, most famously, Howlin’ Wolf, Doc Watson and the Grateful Dead.
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