Banjo Hangout Logo
Banjo Hangout Logo

Premier Sponsors

Banjo Lovers Online

Gospel Roots

Posted by Banjo23055 on Tuesday, December 22, 2009


I cannot remember a time when gospel songs were not a part of my life. The gospel itself was presented to me when I was about 10 year’s old at Vacation Bible School, Fork Union Baptist Church. Reverend Jetton had assembled a number of us in the sanctuary and explained to us the plan of salvation and what Jesus did on the cross. To me it made perfect sense and I readily accepted that invitation to make Jesus the Lord of my life. My journey down that road is another story, but the influence of gospel music and the prevalence of those songs in my life certainly increased.

Many in the Fork Union area will remember the music building that Randolph Snead built on his property in 1970’s. Again, he helped me get started with musical instruments and bluegrass music. During this project, I was promoted to the high-level job of “mortar-mixing engineer”. The automated mixer that I used consisted of a long, wooden handle with a flat piece of metal on the end for pushing and pulling the magical mixture. It was my job to mix the right amounts of sand, mortar and water and of course provide the “automation”. Randolph had the brilliant idea at one point to play some fast bluegrass music on the stereo with the idea that my mixing would keep time with the music.
The man that laid the block for the building was Herbert Greer. Mr. Greer did not hesitate to talk about the Lord while working. Also, after every day’s work, he requested a song. Randolph had worked up an instrumental version of “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” on the flattop guitar in the key of D. He would play that every work day and we would all sing it together on occasion.
Inside the building we made a stage, had chairs along the wall, and the main floor was left open for dancing. For those who frowned on the concept of dancing, we called it “moving our feet in time with the music!” I will never forget Randolph’s brother “Tap” Snead. No one enjoyed the music more than he did. He could hear the music outside and he would come in the door with both feet moving in and out in a way that is difficult to describe. We named it the “Tap Snead Toe Twister”
Do any of you remember the rock fire place in that building? I do not recall where those rock came from, but I remember all of us working together to set those rock precisely from floor to ceiling to make that rock fireplace and chimney. Randolph would fill it completely with wood and he would say “I gotta chunk that fire”. He had a big poker to push and pull the wood and then he would put it under the grate and stir those ashes like a wild man. He would have fire coming out of the top of the chimney 3-4 feet. People traveling down route 15 would honk when they saw that fire coming out the top of that chimney.
My gospel music foundation was laid and strengthened both here and at church. Many well- known musicians had the privilege of playing in this building – some I do not even know about as music went on for years after I was no longer playing with Randolph. We had our band – The Virginia Gentlemen (Randolph, Doug Haden, Nat White, me and numerous singers) and others such as: Larry Stephenson and the New Grass (where I met Larry Jett), Alvin Breeden, James Bailey of Country Gentlemen fame, Willow Branch (Robert & Gayle Noble), Geoff Stelling,  Pete Gooch, Roger Melton, Gloria "Butch" Gibson, Curtis Gibson, Ron Tolliver, and Ron Stokes. I know of others I have forgotten and a few whose names I cannot remember
I will never forget those days or the people who were so much a part of my musical upbringing.
In honor of this, I have recorded Gospel Medley I that has Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus; Onward Christian Soldiers, & Are You Washed in the Blood.

3 comments on “Gospel Roots”

twayneking Says:
Wednesday, December 23, 2009 @6:46:14 AM

Everybody should have one of those golden ages to their lives.

fiddlers4 Says:
Thursday, November 1, 2012 @9:41:43 AM

I don't remember a music bldg. but I didn't show up in Fulv. until 1991. Randolph was in I believe a new house and had the basement layed out to pick in. I do remember the song "What A ... Jesus". I know LOTS of times Randolph would reach up as if he was fine tuning while pickin that, but he wouldn't actually move the tuner. I have GREAT memories of him, Pete, Doug, Nat, Jimmy and others but I don't remember names. Randolph was a Funny guy and would do - say some funny stuff. I could go on & on but I'll stop there. See me on FB.

Banjo23055 Says:
Thursday, November 1, 2012 @9:52:09 AM

Yes I played in that basement some as well. That was at his new house - not quite a mile from where his old house was. That is where the music building was.

You must sign into your myHangout account before you can post comments.

More posts from Banjo23055

Newest Posts

More >  

Hangout Network Help

View All Topics  |  View Categories

Hide these ads: join the Players Union!