The involved backstory as to the reason “Why Don’t You Introduce Me as Your Darling?” is Today’s Tune begins in the fall of 1974, when Loyal Jones, founding director of the Berea (Ky,) College Appalachian Center spearheaded the school’s first weekend-long Celebration of Traditional Music.

My father was then teaching a freshman seminar class at the University of Michigan on the impact of technology on culture, and each year took his students on a field trip to Berea, about 370 miles straight south of Ann Arbor. The following year he timed the trip to coincide with the Celebration of Traditional music and invited me, then a high school senior, to join the crew.

I was a bluegrass and country gospel fan, but the weekend in Berea, with its community street dance, workshops and concerts featuring an array of authentic old time music, changed my relationship to both music and dancing in profound ways. I became a caller. I took up the fiddle. And I returned to Berea numerous times after that both for the weekend celebration and for the week-long “Christmas school” festivities that ended on New Year’s Eve.

On one of these trips I briefly met Carol Elizabeth Jones, Loyal’s exquisitely talented daughter.

Flash ahead to 2014 and, in one of my Very Dad moves, I decided to take my son Ben, then a high school senior, and a couple of his musically inclined friends down to Berea for the Celebration. They were already fairly steeped in old time music (because I am That Way), but the trip became transformative because the Davis & Elkins (WVa) College Appalachian Ensemble happened to be performing that weekend. And the director of that program happened to be Emily Miller, the daughter of Michael Miller and Valerie Mindel, members of the original cast of Songs of Good Cheer in the late 1990s.

Emily explained to us that, as part of the commitment to regional culture at Davis & Elkins, the school offered scholarships to promising traditional musicians just as they offered scholarships to promising athletes. Long story slightly shorter, she invited Ben, whose college plans were then very much up in the air, to visit the school and audition for the ensemble. He passed and played in the touring ensemble for his entire career in college (where he met his fiancee Cori).

Without Loyal Jones, it all never would have happened.

So flash forward again to August 14 of this year. I was down at the Tippecanoe Battlefield near Lafayette, Ind., for a COVID-shortened, one-day version of the Indiana Fiddlers Gathering. The headlining band was The Onlies, a quartet of 23-year-olds, and during one of the workshops, band member Vivian Leva casually mentioned that her mother is Carol Elizabeth Jones, which makes her Loyal Jones’ granddaughter.

And, coincidentally, I’d recently discovered the video of Vivian and her partner Riley Calcagno (also one of the Onlies) singing a song that at first songs like a classic country standard but turns out to have been written by Vivian.

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