Emily puts the “blues” into Blue Ridge

Emily Cooley is helping us enjoy this beautiful day with her lovely voice. She’ll be here till 4 pm. Come on up!

Posted by Big Walker Lookout on Saturday, July 28, 2018

Performing at Big Walker Lookout this season for my wife did not start off as promising as we’d hoped. However, we loved seeing our dear friend Ron looking healthy and happy and, as he always puts it, “wonderful and marvelous.” Though his daughter, Heather, is running the show these days, Ron is still very much the face of Big Walker Lookout and everyone from bikers to children to pets come to the store to see Ron Kime. The place is not complete without him.

Emily was thrilled to sing at the place that has become so near and dear to both of our hearts and our independent careers in the Arts, but the lack of people who were there to listen to her and, more substantially, contribute to the tip jar, it was more than a little disconcerting for her. The fact that I was not selling any copies of my only novel, Face Value, did little to boost my morale as well. Nevertheless, the weather was made to order, and we enjoyed the afternoon just sitting and listening to the beautiful vocals of my wife, who brought a whole different level of talent to the typical array of performers that show up regularly at Big Walker Lookout.

Workers there, Lottie and Teresa, we’re very quick to tell her how much they enjoyed her music and how much her genre of music was needed at that particular venue. This uplifted both of our spirits. Lottie’s husband Ray was the specific person who made our day on our first gig at Big Walker Lookout, which was held on Saturday, July 28th. He contributed 20 of the $31 that went into Emily’s tip jar and bought one of the only books I sold that day. He made our trip up the mountain worthwhile. The generous portion of Nathan’s Hot Dogs, the best you will find in the town of Wytheville, and Homestead Creamery ice cream would have been enough at any rate. It’s a Wonderful kid friendly place that Bella always enjoys accompanying us.

Emily was especially glad to see her friend Carol Watson who came especially to support her. Despite being a bluegrass fan, Carol did have a particular favorite among Emily’s set list. “Crazy” by Patsy Cline was started off just for her and was well-received as well as “I Fall to Pieces.” Highlights of her performance were the Randy Newman song “Guilty,” which she cried out and letter-perfect blues form. The last 15 minutes of her set was performed to no crowd at all. So, she just goofed off for the last two numbers of the set with only me to enjoy it. We both packed up and called it an early evening.

Ron was also very helpful in letting us know that the small sound system in which I had bought Emily to use for performances was not large enough to fulfill the outdoor pavilion. By the time you reach the back of the outdoor picnic area, you could barely hear her at all.  He offered to send me some suggestions for an upgrade.

The next Saturday, we remedy that problem by having her saying in the middle of the pavilion, this time with a large number of people gathered around the back few tables. This group was very loyal and approving of Emily’s fantastic voice. One man remarked to me that if she had a live band, she would really be smoking. This is a lifelong dream of both of ours and we hope it can become a reality someday. A lot of people also remarked that the Bonnie Raitt songs and other numbers she performed were ones that they liked but hadn’t heard for a very long time.

Her cover of Randy Newman’s “Guilty” was once again a program highlight, performed perfectly. She garnered a great deal of Applause from at least 20 attentive listeners who stayed for the entire to our program. The proceeds were quadrupled this time around as well.

I’m also pleased to report that I quadrupled in my book sales as well. Thanks to this book tour of my only novel, which included three stops at Big Walker Lookout this summer, the 75 copies sold of Face Value made it a bona fide hit, at least from my modest standards. I even met local author Bonnie Turner who kindly reviewed Face Value with a 5-star rating.  I look forward to reading her science fiction and fantasy books as well, certain to enjoy it every bit as much as she enjoyed mine.

Another high note of the day was that Emily and Bella both climbed the historic hundred-foot Big Walker Lookout tower all the way to the top. Allow me to emphasize what an accomplishment this is. Bella is 4 years old and Emily has a heart condition. For both their bravery and endurance I applaud both of my girls proudly. Emily tells me that the view from up there was absolutely gorgeous. Big Walker Lookout maybe a small place that some locals haven’t heard of, but I guarantee you that there are people from all over the country that know where that little country store is. I spoke with people from all across the nation stopped in on their way to somewhere else or who had relative locally that they were visiting. All were a pleasure to talk with and reinforced why this is the greatest place in the world to live.

Emily even got an invite to sing at a new music venue in Independence, from which I hope she will hear affirmative word very soon. Her singing gigs are not up for the year just yet. She has a tentative date set up in October for the Rural Retreat Public Library and will be performing September 17th, which is a Saturday, from 7 to 7:45 p.m. at the Grace Lutheran Church in Rural Retreat, which is a part of the McDowell Music Club. There, she will present a 45-minute run of her blues program.