He is a familiar sight, smiling and waving to drivers as they pass the Church of Our Redeemer on Route 50. He is the Rev. John Sheehan, the waving priest of Aldie.
Fifteen minutes before the start of each worship service, no matter the weather, Sheehan stations himself outside the front doors of the 125-year-old church and waves to passersby. He keeps waving until the service begins, pausing only to greet worshipers as they arrive.
In one block on Main Street in Marion, Va., you can enjoy first-rate barbecue at Wolfe’s, watch live bluegrass performances at the historic Lincoln Theatre and rest your head at the equally venerable General Francis Marion Hotel.
In February 1980, KET (Kentucky Educational Television) asked me to record three short videos to be used as fillers in between programs.
In those days, I made music — “composed” is too formal a word — by playing piano improvisations with a tape recorder running. I would listen to the recordings, and if I heard something I liked, I would refine it for a few weeks until I had something with which I was relatively satisfied.
Not a great system, I’ll admit. I realize now that I needed to work much harder at it to produce music that was really good. Still, there’s something to be said for music that just comes out naturally. This was one piece that didn’t change much after the first time I played it; it pretty much came out in this form, and just sort of meanders from one little melody to another.
By the way, the tux and ruffled cuffs were not my idea, or my style, but I was so happy to have the opportunity to do this that I went along with the producer’s suggestions. And he also asked me to take off my glasses, so any stumbles you hear happened because I couldn’t see the keys. At least, that’s my story.
I first heard this recording of “Faded Coat of Blue” on the radio in California, more than 25 years ago. More than any other song I can think of, it has changed my life.
I was captivated by the singer’s voice, and for years I sought to learn more about her. At first, I knew only her name, Betsy Rutherford. I eventually learned that she was from Galax, Va., that she had recorded an album entitled “Traditional Country Music” in 1970, and that she had died in 1991.
This was the first song on Betsy’s only LP, a wonderful album that beautifully showcased her strong voice and smooth singing style. With the support of Betsy’s family, I made this video and posted it on YouTube almost four years ago. I’m pleased to see that it has now been seen by 4,000 people who otherwise might not have heard her music.
Although she didn’t record any other albums, I have been able to track down some recordings of her performances, and I have posted more than 20 of those songs on YouTube. But this was the first, and it remains my favorite.
Suppose that two middle schools and an elementary school hosted 600 students who were competing in a math tournament on five-member teams. One middle school hosted 12 fewer teams than did the other two schools. How many students competed at the elementary school?