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Fret 'n Fiddle's Grand Re-opening

#126 / A News Extra

The late Joe Dobbs' Fret 'n Fiddle music store has always been a key component in The 1937 Flood's story.

Of course, Joe was one of the founding members of the band back in the 1970s. And the shop Joe and his brother Dennis launched in those days was a major outpost for all things Floodish for the next four decades, from jams and recording sessions to album release parties and reunions.

So it was with great happiness that we learned the store was going to be in operation again after the hiatus that followed Joe's death in 2015. And of course, The Flood eagerly accepted an invitation to come to St. Albans, WV, to help with the Grand Re-opening celebration this weekend.

We were joined for our jam by some of Joe's dearest friends, including Floodster Emerita Michelle Hoge and guitar champ Jesse Smith. The resulting video, built around work by the FnF staff and by old friend Edwina Zeigler, is a 15-minute hunk of the good time we had!

Now, About That Wig

So, what’s up with the short blonde wig that Michelle was sporting for the afternoon?

Well, that particular story starts back in 2004 when Joe, as the eldest of our tribal elders, was the first in the Family Flood reach age 70. The event prompted an August weekend surprise party in the backyard of Joan and Sam St. Clair’s Huntington home in the South Side, a do filled with music and stories, a few tears and lots of jokes.

A highlight of the afternoon was the arrival of Marilyn Monroe, channeled by Michelle, who has been The Flood’s “Chick Singer” for just a year at that point. Beneath her well-coifed wig, she delivered a perfect, breathy “hap-pee birthhhhhhvhhh-day, Misssss-ter Fiddler….” This is the picture that band manager Pamela Bowen captured of that serenade on the St. Clairs’ patio.

Well, now flash forward 18 years. Last summer, Joe’s daughter, Diane, asked Michelle to revive her Marilyn look for the Fret ’n Fiddle celebration, adding that she even had a great dress for the occasion.

Writing from her Nashville-area home, Diane told Michelle, “The last stage that the dress was worn on was at the Opry when they honored Keith Whitley. (My friend is married to Stan Hitchcock’s son. Stan is an old songwriter and discovered Keith.) As soon as she showed me the dress, I saw you wearing it. I never dreamed she would get rid of it, so when she did, I got it for you! … Her name is ‘Marilyn,’ and she is looking forward to you becoming her new owner.”

So, Michelle/Marilyn donned the dress, found the wig and did the gig.

The 1937 Flood Watch
The 1937 Flood Watch
Charles Bowen