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Graves Mountain: A Portrait In Song
Featuring: "Blue Ridge Style of Life"

Originally released on cassette as Norton Wade at Graves Mountain',  "Graves Mountain: A Portrait in Song"  has been digitally remastered and is now available on CD direct from Nortunes. As a special bonus, "Shenandoah" from the first release and "Rachel Ann" from the second release are both included on the CD.

Graves Mountain: A Portrait In Song CD

Click here for a lyrical portrait.

Click here for song list and descriptions. 

Click here for purchase info.

      


Copyright notice. All material on this site are protected by copyright law and by international treaties. You may download this material  for your own personal use. You may not otherwise reproduce, distribute, publicly perform, publicly display, or create derivative works of this material, unless authorized by Nortunes/Norton Wade. Norton Wade is not affiliated with any of the Graves Mountain organizations, although he does recommend you go there.

If the music starts and stops, you probably need to download the song before playing it. If you don't see the download option when you click, you should change the options for your player to "confirm before downloading". If you need a player click on this button to download an MP3 player.   If you want more choices and more information about MP3 go to WWW.MP3.COM.

 


Blue Ridge Style

"Take a big ol' pot of country stew
Add a pinch of me and you
Stir in some lazy time
Simmer it on sunshine

Fold in fresh cool mountain air
Beautiful scenery everywhere
Let it all set for a while
That's the recipe for Blue Ridge Style"

The "Blue Ridge Style of Life" is a blend of happy times, lazy times, old times, and new times. "Graves Mountain: A Portrait In Song" by Norton Wade is a musical mix of happy, lazy, old, and new songs describing a beautiful area one step away from paradise in the Virginia Blue Ridge area.

All the songs except the traditional "Shenandoah" were composed by Norton Wade, a Georgia boy who is one of many who long to return to the area drawn to mountain hospitality, blue ridge style.

"Mister Jack" Graves, along with his wife Miss Kate founded Graves Mountain Lodge now featuring an established tradition  of mountain hospitality in the Blue Ridge area. Mister Jack knew and taught the value of a hard days work but also knew there was a time to relax and just "set a spell" or maybe try a little trout fishing in one of the many blue ridge streams.

Graves Mountain Lodge is located at the base of "Doubletop" mountain and faces toward the apple tree laden Graves Mountain and Mountain View farm  which is the family home of proprietors Jimmy and Rachel Graves and their two sons Lucky and Lynn. From the porch of the lodge in the distance (and if you know where to look) you can see "Old Rag " mountain which is the highest peak in this chain of the Blue Ridge. Each year in October as the leaves change with their many colors seeming to be "fallin' down the mountain" many folks visit Graves Mountain and the "Apple Harvest Festival".

The festival located on the lodge grounds next to the gurgling Rose River is filled with good food and demonstrations of the old time way of life. Go ahead and grab yourself a paddle and help some of the locals like Roby and "Lee Anna"  stir some of the big ol' pots of apple butter and brunswick stew cooking in the mountain air.   In some of the past festivals you could see old time farm hand "Jesse Comer" Utz demonstrating his steam engines and pulling the hay wagon with an old time steam farm tractor.  I f you listen carefully, you may still hear that old steam whistle filling up the valley. 

The festival is also family and friends.  You'll meet some of the nicest people you'll ever know and look forward to seeing them again year after year. Since the early 1850's five generations of the Graves family have been innkeepers and shared their blend of hospitality. If you're visiting for the first time you will be pleased to meet Jimmy Graves own "Rose of Rose River" Rachel Graves.  Her family including one of my favorites "Rachel Ann" have joined in and have also become part of the tradition.   

All in all, you can walk through the pine trees of Georgia, sit on the sandy beaches of the Carolinas, or even visit the Hawaiian Islands paradise but you'll find no place more pleasant than the hemlocks, the falls and the beauty of the "Sweet Virginia Blue Ridge".

   

Norton Wade
Nortunes Studio
4131 Saddle Horn Drive
Evans, GA 30809
706 855-0129

 

Song List 

1. Apple Harvest Festival

This was the first song I wrote about my experiences at Graves Mountain Lodge, "Just about a mile past Syria, Virginia".  This song brings back such memories of the October mountain festival that you can almost taste the "Brunswick Stew" and see the leaves "changin' all around you".  Although the lyrics refer to the lodge owners I knew so well (Big Jim and Rachel), I originally wrote the song referring to Jim parents, "Mister Jack and Miss Kate" to whom many thousands have very fond memories.  Its to their memory  and the way of life they lived and inspired that  I dedicate these songs. Click here for a picture of me standin' next to the old lodge entrance.

   
2.    Jesse Comer         

This song pretty much describes my experience when I  became acquainted with  Jesse Comer Utz and his "marvelous steam farm machine" at my first Apple Harvest Festival at Graves Mountain Lodge. I was on the front porch eating breakfast when all of a sudden I heard this sound that filled up the entire valley. Along with a farm worker named "Neugene" who had been waiting for Jesse Comer, I ran to the window and was amazed at the site.   "Grabbing one more honey biscuit", Neugene and I left immediately to go see.  Click here for a picture of the steam farm machine.

Jesse Comer was an old time farm hand that worked at the Graves' farm and he loved to tinker with just about anything mechanical.  And by the way you never said Jesse without the Comer attached.   Besides "stokin' up the steam farm tractor" he would also have several smaller steam engines whirrin' away at the festivals. Several years later and unbeknownst to him I wrote this song and played it for him at the Apple Harvest Festival. A couple of days later he came back and said that hearing that song had cost him "a right smart amount of money". I was surprised because I had given him several copies of the tape.  I then kinda figured he must have bought some more from somewhere to give to his family. I told him I would have given him more. He replied that it weren't the extra tapes, but  he had to go buy the "fancy" machine to play it on so his wife could hear it. 

I went over to his house later that week and met Estell and was able to get  some pictures of me and Jesse and the machine. I looked forward to seeing him at the next year's festival but he had passed. Fortunately for me I had been able to meet him and sing him his song in person before he died. There are many more memories about Jesse Comer. He is one that will live in the hearts of many for a long time.  Click here for a picture of me and Jesse Comer.

   
3.    Mister Jack 

Speaking of mountain legends. Mr. Jack was already a legend and gone before I would have had the opportunity to meet him.  I wrote this song based on many stories I had heard as well as a picture in the lodge of Mister Jack trout fishing ("one foot in the stream"). There was a story in the Washington Post about Mister Jack's passing and about him being at the same time a gentle man of the mountains as well  as an "executive" in a huge corporation wielding a major influence in the Virginia farming community. 

I took poetic license and wrote the song as if I was describing a moment in my younger life of actually knowing him and sneaking to follow him on one of his fishing trips. After hearing the song, many of those who knew and loved him said that the song had captured the essence of Mister Jack.  At the end of the song is a melodic piece of the old time hymn, "In the Sweet By and By" whose words include "we will meet on the beautiful shore". Whenever I perform this song I always think of the parting prayer: ''Til then Mister Jack." ..... I do so much look forward to meeting him one day. 

   
4.   Rose of Rose River

The Rose River flows right through the valley at Graves Mountain and you have to cross it to go up to the lodge. The bed of the river is full of a stone called unakite which is green with a little hint of rose coloration throughout. At sometime every song writer writes about a "rose". There are many "roses" of Rose River. I figure most of the ladies that live there or even the ones that visit are a "rose" in someone's heart. So this song is dedicated to all the ladies then and now especially to Jimmy Graves' rose, Rachel Graves.  

   
5.   Rachel Ann 

This song was originally an instrumental I wrote on one of my trips when I met a young girl named "Rachel Ann". She was the niece of lodge owner Rachel Graves. The "word version" of the song came after one of the most touching moments of my life. It happened at the Apple Harvest Festival the year after I had released the first tape. I was up at one of the sheds performing the songs and Rachel Ann came up to listen. Well she just looked at me like I was some kind of something special. She was very excited to see me. The first thing she asked was for me to play the song "Jesse Comer". I was immediately impressed that she even remembered the name of one of the songs but then when I played it, she sung along word for word. The next song was "Mister Jack" and she added movements along with the words. She not only knew the words to all my songs but had made up little dances and movements for most of them. I was literally "blown away". To my knowledge Rachel Ann was the first person to memorize the lyrics of a "nortune" besides Nortune. Her momma later told me she had listened to the tape just about every night when she went to bed. She will always hold a dear place in my heart.  

   
 6.   Sweet Virginia Blue Ridge

This song was inspired by the sheer beauty of many a walk on  the mountain trails in the area seeing "the hemlock brushing the heavens", "trout filled streams," and the "rainbows dancin' over the water falls".  For the other metaphors in the song, Georgia is my home state, Carolina beaches have always been a good place to visit, and I have seen "Blue Hawaii" and yes it is "nearly paradise".

   
7.    Lee-Anna

Lee Anna is the daughter of Bob and Betty Sue Camper. Her dad who is a manager  or something of the sort used to call her a "pistol".  I say something of the sort because Bob does just about a lot of everything. He's a jack of all trades and at the same time an extraordinary master of most. Along with Roby, they're a great family and all participate in some way at the harvest festival.  One night after a rousing evening of Uno I looked over and saw Lee Anna "sleeping in her chair".  Although she was much younger, she was faster and seemed smarter than all of us. She proceeded to beat our brains out in Uno and just floated off to dreamland. I remember thinking at the time, her Dad is right, she is a pistol.  And don't you just love that name "Betty Sue". Besides being the inspiration for a  line in "Doubletop" ("Wide eyed mountains girls live there too," ) Lee Anna's mom is known for being very artistic and I remember her doing a lot of the signs and posters at the festival, decorating pumpkins and the like. 

   
8.    Old Rag

Just a little instrumental dittie named for the highest mountain  in the Graves  portion of the Blue Ridge. Only the peak is visible from the lodge as you look out across the valley.  One day I was sitting up on the porch doing a little guitar picking and this song just kind of came out. About that same time I pulled in one of those deep breathtaking views and there peeked out the name of the song just shining in the clear morning sun. 

One of the nice day trips while you're visiting the lodge is to hike Old Rag. You can take either the leisure walk on the "fire trail" or otherwise the "ridge trail" which is a little shorter and steeper. The lodge will make you a box lunch of which I highly recommend asking them to throw in some of the Graves Mountain applesauce made right there at the Graves Mountain Cannery. In terms of the hikes, I've done 'em both and made sure both times to look out from the peak back to lodge to see where I came from.  There are some views on those walks that you'll never lose.  

   
9.   Doubletop

The lodge sets on the side of Double Top Mountain. That pretty much was all I needed to be inspired to write this one. That and the dream of having myself a little cabin just around the "t'other side".  Click here for a look at the lodge settin' on Doubletop Mountain.

   
10.  Blue Ridge Style Of Life

On the way to Graves Mountain Lodge you pass through the two little towns of Syria and Crigglersville where "life here's a little slow, but that's what I need don't ya know". This song is my favorite portrait of the mountains.   It pretty much sums up the best of my "good ol' mountain mem'rys". It reminds me of just settin' a spell in a big ole rocker on the porch relaxing after one of the sumptuous family style meals at the lodge.  All you got to do is settle back and enjoy the view out over the valley "watching the colors changin' on the mountains".  

As a special note: the line "don't ya know" came from Bob Camper's grandmother  Carrie Waugh who came from the general area but from over yonder parts. She was and will always be everybody's "Grannie".

   
11. Shenandoah

As my old buddy J. Austin Jefferson says, it never hurts to put a familiar tune on your CD. This rendition is mostly fancy picking (that's one guitar) in the midst of a beautiful old melody. The Shenandoah valley is on the other side of the Blue Ridge Parkway from the lodge and is always a nice place to go on a day trip especially since its so famous. You can also take in the Luray Caverns on your way. 

This song was included in the original tape but was left off of the second one to make room for "Rachel Ann". I always wished I could have had more tape so I could put on both. Of course through the miracle of technology, I can now include both with room to spare.  As you listen to this tune back home with your memories, or while driving through the mountains I would like for you to ponder on how we can all preserve our wonderful past in the midst of the new technology. Like me, I hope you're able to find a place for both.   May God bless you and yours.  And, I hope to see ya' "thar"  someday.

 

 

Purchase Graves Mountain CD

The CD is currently available directly from Nortunes:

CD's may be purchased at the studio or in person for $15.00 each.

CD's may be purchased by mail for $15.00 plus $2.00 shipping and handling totaling $17.00 shipped upon receipt.

Make check payable to Norton Wade.

Nortunes Studio
4131 Saddle Horn Drive
Evans, GA 30809
706 855-0129

 

That's me standin' next to the old entrance sign. If you click here you can see a picture of the new sign.
This here's a picture of the main lodge. All those windows you see is where folks can sit out on the porch and take in the scenery while they are eatin'. And by the looks of the cars lined up, it must've been some serious eatin' goin' on. The bottom porch has rockin' chairs where you can relax after eatin' and take in the scenery. There's  quite a bit of scenery and eatin' to be enjoyed at Graves Mountain Lodge.
This is the old time steam farm tractor that pulled the hay wagon for many years at the Apple Harvest festival at Graves Mountain Lodge. By the time of this picture it had already been retired to pasture. Not that it couldn't still pull the wagon but because the insurance was too high in case it accidentally blew up while it was doin' so. I was in the truck the last time it was hauled back to Jesse Comer's farm. That was an experience in itself. It was so heavy, the truck that was haulin' it was buckin' and carryin' on like you ain't ever seen. That was quite a thrill on them narrow mountain roads.
With the squint on those two faces it musta been a might sunny that day. But in any case you get the idea of what ol' Jesse Comer looked like (on the left). If you look close you can see one of his steam engines. The yocal on the right has been through so many changes, who knows what he really looks like.