Once a month for the last ten months, I’ve made the trek out to Elkin, North Carolina to spend the better part of my Saturday at the Reeves Theater. Ordinarily, if I’m going to drive 45 minutes or more, it’s going to be to somewhere like Durham or Asheville. But what brought me to Elkin—a town that now holds a special place in my heart—was The Martha Bassett Show.
The Martha Bassett Show has been a dream of its host, musician and professional amazing person Martha Bassett, and its producer, her partner/bass player/fashion advisor/manager Pat Lawrence, for years. When our friends Chris and Debbie at the Reeves Theater in downtown Elkin started moving on their own dream to restore the historic space as “a home for music in the heart of the Foothills,” those dreams became entwined.
Finally, in February 2018, the first episode of season one of The Martha Bassett Show opened with headliners Jonathan Byrd and The Pickup Cowboy along with local talent The Dan River Girls and Martha’s band, of which I’m lucky enough to be a member. The show was incredible. The theater was beautiful. The accompanying podcast allowed people far away to experience it all. The audience perfectly matched the tagline of the show—“Good music for good people”—and I knew right away that this was something special.
Since then, I’ve had the immense honor of collaborating with an all-star list of musicians. Some were already favorites of mine; many were brand new to me. All of them had unique voices and styles, and the challenge of adapting to each artist’s method and personality was an incredible learning experience for me. Beyond the pure talent of our guests was the fact that every one of them was a wonderful person. I feel like the Martha Bassett Show has not only pushed the limits of my musical ability, it has also given me a gang of new friends.
On Saturday, the tenth and final episode of the first season closed out our 2018 run with a bang. Bluegrass musicians Zoe & Cloyd and violinist/songwriter/disability activist/my new favorite human Gaelynn Lea were our featured artists along with more local talent (of which there’s plenty around here!). We closed with a jaw-droppingly gorgeous song of Gaelynn’s, “Bound By a Thread,” whose chorus soars:
And I, I do believe
We’ll see the fruits of our labor
Maybe not now, maybe lifetimes ahead
If only love would be our guide
As I looked up at the show’s title on the marquee for the last time until next February, I couldn’t help but stop and think about what The Martha Bassett Show has given me, about what has been poured into that event, that space, that community that it all is becoming. The fruits of a lot of people’s labor, especially Pat and Martha’s and Chris and Debbie’s, can be seen in so many ways.
In the show, you can see it in the flow of the entertainment, in the quality of the musicianship, and most importantly in how artists are welcomed and encouraged to have fun and be themselves. In the space, you can see it in the commitment to locally sourced farm-to-table food in the café, in the dedication and hospitality of the staff (many of whom are musicians themselves), and in the aesthetic of the space, from the overall beauty and attention to history to the smallest details, like—it might seem weird, but this is my favorite thing to point out—the fact that the rows of seats in the theater are spaced far enough apart that you can walk straight through instead of having to shuffle along sideways to get to your spot.
Before the season one finale, Gaelynn was telling us how many people had told her she would love the Reeves, that it was such a great performance space. Martha said what is absolutely true—that it’s because it was all done with love.
Love has been the guide for Chris and Debbie, for Pat and Martha, for everyone who has contributed in any way to reestablishing the jewel of a small southern town and to creating an event that exposes people to music that is not just easy on the ears but brings ease to the soul. And the fruits of that labor are visible already.
For a sneak peek of season two of The Martha Bassett show and for links to the podcast, visit www.marthabassettshow.com. To learn more about the Reeves Theater & Cafe and other events there, visit www.reevestheater.com.