|The "Mayor of Five Forks" is 83. Willard Jones has been pickin' and
grinnin' with his
banjo for nearly 65 years, starting off at "literaries" down on Yellow
members of his family and a dozen or more of his old time pickin'
entertained at thousands of special events, reunions, homecomings and
The Friday night bunch at Al's Barn in downtown Munday, honored
Willard with a
birthday party. "Music has brought me great contentment," said
Willard. "It sure never
made me any money, but it has made me very happy. I hope it has made
Willard Jones is 83, Al Hogan presents the "Mayor of Five Forks" a
Willard said he is grateful for Munday resident Al Hogan for creating
"The Barn," a
place for tune makers to come every Friday evening. Hogan came to
Munday in 1995
from Delta PA. "Things were getting a little crowded around there," he
(L to R) Clarence Mills, Herb Smith, Richard Weaver, Willard Jones and
Johnnie Jones on bass
Hogan said he is deeply appreciative of the local musicians who come
by. "They are a
talented bunch of guys and great people, too." His primary goal, using
studio, is to preserve their mountain music. "We want to keep the
music going," he
said. The public is invited to stop by on Friday evenings.
At least four of Friday's seasoned performers are 80 or over, Clarence
Mills of Munday,
Herb Smith of Grantsville, Eb Swisher of Big Bend and Willard of Five
Eb Swisher and Clarence Mill took time to tell some Creed Brooks
stories from the
early part of last century.
Eb: Most people heard about Creed always being struck by cars on Route
5. The most
memorable when he was knocked over the hill into the river by Winfield
Creed crawled back up to the road and and said to Winfield 'You pay
and I'll pay mine'.
Clarence: A salesman stopped at Creed's place and told him a tale
about a 100 pound
fish he caught. Creed listened to the fish story and told the salesmen
his own story
about fishing in the Little Kanawha late one night. A giant fish came
swallowed his lantern. Creed said a few nights later he was fishing
and the fish came
up again with the lantern still burning in its mouth. The salesman
said "Do you really
expect me to believe a yarn like that?" after which Creed said: "You
shave 50 pounds
off that fish and I'll blow the lantern out."
Eb: We had a great time around Big Bend, particularly at Holbert's
Store. We boys
would help Mr. Holbert unload a truck of watermelons and always drop
one to eat, every time. Holbert would come out and ask us if we had
done it on
purpose. He knew. He was a generous man who helped a lot of people.
A few of the other performers attending Willard's party: Charles
Weaver, Starling Holbert, Earl Blair, Johnnie Jones, Wayne Snider,
plus wives and family members. The group enjoyed a dinner and the
Mostly, it was music, tales and laughter. Traditional songs familiar
to most everyone
in Appalachia, played with spirit and reverence.
Pickers, pick up the tune
Al Hogan records old mountain tunes
It was a really nice evening for Calhoun and Wirt County folks to say
thanks to the
likes of Willard Jones and his many friends.