Rural Missouri - March 2018 - 10

Monday Night
in McClurg

Weekly gathering brings together
good music, food and friends
by Zach Smith | zsmith@ruralmissouri.coop

"It gets to where all of the regulars start to feel
like members of your family," Ava resident Mona
ravel deep in the hills of northeastern Decker says. "They're preserving the music that was
Taney County on a Monday night and such a central part of the Ozarkian culture - and
you're likely to hear an inviting sound. that's an important thing."
The McClurg Jam began with Lester and Ailene
Even an untrained ear pricks up at
something familiar and instinctual in the notes, Adams who started the weekly event from their livwhich eddy and swirl like an Ozarks stream. The ing room. The gathering moved across the road in
melody brings you to the door of an old coun- the early 1990s when Ailene closed the town's small
try store. The nostalgic smell of beans and corn- store and post office after Lester passed away.
Lonnie Taber, a previous owner of the store and
bread carries you in and the company at hand
insists you pull up a chair to the wood pellet stove. current caretaker for owners Jerome and Sharon
Amid the warmhearted and welcoming folks who Janusz, says attending the weekly jam has become
gather in McClurg, it's hard for a visitor not to a tradition for many residents of southern Missouri - whether or not they happen to be musifeel as though they've somehow come home.
cally inclined. Friends catch up
on family and the last week's
events while a steady stream of
pickers, pluckers and strummers pile instrument cases in a
corner of the one-room store.
Scattered around the shelves
of the store are pieces of this
dual history. E-Z Belt Buckle
kits, Supreme brand steel wool
and an assortment of Wright's
Rick Rack sit between photos
of the musicians who have and
continue to play here on Monday nights.
The rules are straightforward
and simple: no smoking, drinking or swearing.
"All the people that come there
are respectable and respectful,"
Lonnie says. "Everybody brings
a covered dish and after everybody eats they start playing. It's
just like a big Christmas party
when you go there."
First through the door is double bassist Steve Assenmacher, all smiles to see who has
turned out for the night. "Hopefully we'll have a fiddle player
show," he says as he unpacks
Above: Alvie Dooms has been playing at McClurg for more than three decades. He
his instrument. "It will feel like
says the weekly gathering preserves old-time music that has all but disappeared.
the 1920s in here."

T

10

RURAL MISSOURI | MARCH 2018

As it turns out not one but two fiddlers brave
high winds and sleety roads - David Scrivner and
Tom Berthold. Joining them tonight on banjo are
JR Johnston and Dylan Barber with accompanying
guitar from Noel Scott and Alvie Dooms.
Well known for playing with the late fiddler Bob
Holt, Alvie also is known around the area for his
58-year career as a bus driver in the Ava school district. Friends of Lester's, Alvie and Bob were invited
to play at the jam 35 years ago and they kept coming back.
"I can't play like I used to - I'm past 50 - but I
can get by, yet," the 88 year old jokes with a hearty
laugh. Age, it turns out, means very little, as watching Alvie easily cruise alongside the sweeping fiddles, barreling banjos and Steve's thumping bass
proves.

"...a visitor might easily find
themselves forgetting who
or where they are, transported by music that could
justifiably be called both
"old-time" and "timeless."
Although tonight the group numbers seven musicians there's no magic number necessary to justify
the jam, so the tight circle of folding chairs expands
or contracts accordingly each Monday. The jam has
regulars, but anyone is welcome to play regardless
of skill level - "good, bad, sorry or fair," according
to Alvie.
"You never know who's going to be there, people
just come in and start playing," Lonnie says. "They
come out of Springfield, Norwood, Ava and Branson. We had a guy from Long Island, New York come
in and play."
Naturally with real fellowship comes really good
food. "Musicians, fill your plates!" a voice calls out,
and the buffet of fried chicken, cornbread, beans



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - March 2018

Contents
Rural Missouri - March 2018 - Cover1
Rural Missouri - March 2018 - Cover2
Rural Missouri - March 2018 - Contents
Rural Missouri - March 2018 - 4
Rural Missouri - March 2018 - 5
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Rural Missouri - March 2018 - Cover3
Rural Missouri - March 2018 - Cover4
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