(12/21/2002)

Ruth Wilson Beall and husband Bob perform old favorites

The barn fills as the evening goes on

By Bob Weaver

Many Calhoun and Wirt families have scattered across America these past fifty years, and that sense of community that provided comfort seems to have gone by the wayside in some sections. Not so down Munday way, a little community located in Wirt County, but associated closely with Calhoun.

Al's Barn has become a gathering place these last three years, particularly on Friday night, when many of the areas old-time mountain musicians come together to pick and sing. They bring their families and friends, who bring food and celebrate, celebrate, celebrate, everything from birthdays to just being alive.

Al Hogan's place has become known as a "helping hands" institution, an effort to reach out to most any person or family in need. "This is the greatest bunch of people in the world," said Al. "They have the kindest hearts and go about their business of being good neighbors."

Then there is music. "The kind that is disappearing," said Al. "Nothing like one of those mule-skinnin' tunes by Willard Jones, or a dozen or so others who regularly perform on the barn's stage. They can even see themselves on the in-house TV system.

Fans of the barn enjoy the evening

Earl and Monoka Blair entertain crowd, with help from friends

Clarence Mills turns 73 and enjoys his big cake

Al has been recording old time mountain music for years, and he still is.

Friday night one of the pickers, Clarence Mills was celebrating his 73rd, and he was presented with a giant cake.

Bob Beall and his wife Ruth, who returned to a Calhoun holler a while back, did a set, followed by several other musicians who "just step in."

Al's place is a flashback to neighborhood events held in the country most every weekend, before TV, video tapes, MTV, the Nashville Channel, electronic games and the internet.

Al says "You're welcome to stop by. We'd be glad to have you."

Al's friends were trying to raise a little money to help several families in need last night. The money gets to where it belongs, if you'd like to help. Al can be reached at 304-354-9101.

Al Hogan at the controls

Louise Heiney Newbrough (left) and Nellie Bokinskie (right) help with event

Nellie and Bob celebrate holiday


Hur Herald from Sunny Cal
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