Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Mitch Jayne and the Darling Boys

The Darlings were about as funny as an asphalt driveway... they could crack you up just lookin at 'em. The Darlings were not convesationalist, but they spoke volumes. I think  Doug Dillard finally said "Good beans, Aunt Bea." Those were the only words they ever spokeby the Darlin Boy's on the Andy Griffin Show, on which they played some 50 times in 10 or so years, as I hear it.

How they managed those poker faces on the AGS is beyond me. If you ever knew any of them, they never sat or stood still for a minute, and never shut up...Mitch Jayne and Rodney Dillard... and funny?  Law, it was scandalous how they could make people laugh.

The one exception was Dean Webb. Dean was not fraught with gab. He had been rooted away from the table for years.  Mitch Janyne used to say, "If Dean stuck out his tongue and stood sideways, he'd look like a zipper...bless his heart." In the South you can say anything about anybody if it contains the phrase "bless his/hers heart". Dean never smiled and took it in stride. He was there to play mandolin.

I met the Dillards/Darlins as weekend warrior bluegrass festival junky in the late 60's and 70's. Virginia, North Carolina and Maryland were rife with high class, well attended,  bluegrass festival. Many were put on by Carlton Haney, a promoter/producer of some of the best festivals. Berryville, Va and Indian Springs, Md. were my favorites.
Carlton always had the best of the best talent...Bill Monroe, The Country Gentlemen, The Seldom Scene, Newgrass Revival, Ralph Stanley, Budk White, Ricky Skaggs, Don Reno, The Red Clay Ramblers, The Lewis Family and of course, the Dillards, the real Darlin Boys. They started out as Rodney and Doug Dillard Mitchell F "Hickory" Jayne and Dean Webb. They had a few personell changes on banjo, and added drums at one point, a move I found impetuous, but hell, they were living in California at the time...completely out of touch with reality.

Them Dillard's put on a show. They were funny, disarming, instrumentally brilliant, and sang as if they meant it, giving roughly 150%  to everything they did, even with hangovers, which were fairly common in the days I knew them.

Mitch could pull your leg off, too.  I watched Mitch Jayne pull  Little Roy Lewis' chain clean off. Mitch set the hook on Friday afternoon at Berryville and it took him all weekend to reel Little Roy in... had to do with Lewis Family pot holders...but that's another story. When they came East, I'd look up Mitch and Rodney  and they'd sorta give me a laundry list. They had an army of consorts appropriating anything that would make their stay on the festival circuit easier...moonshine, home cooking, etc. they knew how to work the system.

The Dillards started playing at the Cellar Door in Washington DC, and I'd go see them every time they were there. I had a buddy, Chris,  on the door who could always squeeze Annie and I in. The hardest I ever laughed, I think, was a show in which the Dillard's preceeded comedian George Carlin. Mitch Janyne, as bass player and spokesman for the group, was at his best that night. The band didn't played more than 3 songs...Mitch held court and kept everybody including Dean Webb in stitches, so you can imagine what it did to the audience. THEN came George Carlin, never to be outdone.

I found a Mitch Jayne email dated 1/1/00, Y2K day. I Googled him and his web site popped up with an email address... and the old peckerwood wrote me back the other night. He thought I was still in Australia, but decided I wasn't cause there were no Grizzly sighting Down Under. Mitch is doing well. He's married to woman who is a photographer and publisist...his own private he's writing more that ever..a good thing for us. No telling what'll come out of Hickory Mitch's head. It'll be fun.

Google Mitch Jayne and watch the interview (3 minutes) he did with Rodney Dillard on the misappropriation of the Kings English for fame and fortune. It's on You Tube, but it I can't capture the technology to bring it to you here.

Mitch's book Home Grown Stories and Home Grown Lies is as close as your library.  Mitch is a  columist for a couple of newpapers in Missouri . He projects a rich assessment of the common man. He is their spokesman, and an eloquent spokesman he is, Bless his heart.

The Darlins/Dillards and the fact everyone who ever saw them, remembers them to this day, is largely due to Mitch Jayne and Rodney Dillard... and thank you Andy Griffin for recognizing their talent.

As Mitch puts it, when they announced they were going to Hollywood, "Everyone in Salem said, you'uns is 'a going a long way to fail". They did anything but, and were inducted into the Bluegrass Hall of Fame  by the IBMA, a year or two ago...not too shabby for a bunch of ole wooly boys from Missouri.

the above link will put you to mitch's homepage, and a damn funny interview with Rodney Dillard. Laugh well!

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