Just Don’t Throw Tomatoes

Max Waters personifies talent, humility and humor that makes the Caldwell Traditional Musicians Showcase a success 

By Michael M. Barrick

Note: This is another installment in a series about the 19th Annual Caldwell Traditional Musicians Showcase – ‘Handmade & Heartfelt.’ A list of previous articles is below. The Showcase is scheduled for Sat., March 11 at 7:30 p.m. at the J.E. Broyhill Civic Center.

Showcase Handmade & Heartfelt logo

LENOIR, N.C. – In addition to “Handmade & Heartfelt” for themes for this year’s Caldwell Traditional Musicians Showcase, perhaps humility and humor should be added also. That is because that is what Max Waters, who plays traditional southern gospel music, brings to the Showcase.

He also brings a ton of talent, 50 years of experience, and the respect of his peers.

Yet, when asked what he hopes the audience will experience from his performance at the Showcase, Waters said, “Well, it would be nice if no one threw tomatoes.”

I just hope the audience has half the fun listening as I expect to have playing.” – Max Waters

He added, “Other than that, I don’t think the couple of numbers I’ll be doing will be a life-changing experience for anyone. Getting to play along with Strictly Clean and Decent will be a great experience and I just hope the audience has half the fun listening as I expect to have playing.”

If longevity is any indication, his set will be a hit. He explained, “Herb Miller, who was a member of the first quartet in which Lenoir native George Younce sang, introduced me to traditional southern gospel music when I was an 18-year-old boy. I’ve spent the past 50 years accompanying groups and singers in that particular genre.”

Kay Crouch, of host group Strictly Clean and Decent, has written this of Waters in her program notes: “Max is the consummate southern gospel pianist. He has a long history with Strictly Clean and Decent, having performed with Patrick’s uncle Cole Crouch in The Messengers, and with Ron’s brother George Shuffler in The Shuffler Family Band, as well as with many others. His playing is heavily influenced by many genres outside of gospel music but it is his joy and contagious enthusiasm that delight his audiences and colleagues alike.”

Max is the consummate artist who plays his instrument flawlessly and totally understands ensemble playing. Max’s joy and enthusiasm is more than contagious. It is a pure delight to share the stage with him.” – Patrick Crouch

Patrick Crouch added, “My Uncle Cole Crouch played music with Max many years ago in the Messengers Gospel group. He talked endlessly about Max’s musical knowledge and his mastery of the piano. Uncle Cole loved Max for his music and for his attitude toward fellow musicians. I had the pleasure of playing music with Max a few years ago and experienced everything my uncle had told me. Max is the consummate artist who plays his instrument flawlessly and totally understands ensemble playing. Max’s joy and enthusiasm is more than contagious. It is a pure delight to share the stage with him.”

Explaining why he enjoys gospel music, Waters explained, “Every song turns out to be a mini message in a powerful format. Some people will come listen to gospel music that would never put their foot in a church door. Gospel has the essence of blues, country and some traditional music. It’s not the same every time. And for me anyway, it is forever challenging.”

He explained, “I do like to do my own arranging, keeping the recognized melody in place but adjusting the harmony (re-harmonization) seems to freshen-up the old familiar hymns.”

Max Waters on piano

Max Waters

Playing in the Showcase is meaningful for Waters for a number of reasons. He explained, “I was born in the Kings Creek community of Caldwell County in 1948 and today live in the Kings Creek community not a quarter mile from where I was raised. Having traveled around the world numerous times I can say without hesitation that, as far as I am concerned, no place compares with the quality of life we experience in this part of God’s green earth.”

He continued, “The Showcase is special to me because it gives me the opportunity to play along with Patrick of Strictly Clean and Decent, whose uncle Cole Crouch was my musical mentor. Cole passed away some time ago, but make no mistake about it – the man was a musical genius whose guitar work was among the best in the business.”

He concluded, “I just appreciate the opportunity to play with Strictly Clean and Decent. I have traveled all over. It is quite a pleasant experience to play again with Patrick. It’s going to be a whole lot of fun.” 

© The Lenoir Voice, 2017. 

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On Twitter: @lenoirvoice

Previous 2017 Showcase Articles

Handmade & Heartfelt: Theme of 19th Annual Caldwell Traditional Musicians Showcase inspired by area musicians

Jimmie Griffith Exemplifies Showcase Theme: Music is handmade in Caldwell County and is heartfelt from his native Brazil

Nancy Posey Bringing Her Humor and Wit to Showcase: Calls her role as emcee a mere ‘footnote’ to the Caldwell Traditional Musicians Showcase

Strictly Strings Carrying on the Old-Time Tradition: Boone-based group brings energy, excellence and creativity to Showcase

Sycamore Bones Just Keeps Creating: Lenoir-based trio bringing their own brand of music to annual Caldwell Showcase

Showcase Information and Performers

The 19th Annual Caldwell Traditional Musicians Showcase will be on Sat., March 11 at 7:30 p.m. at the J.E. Broyhill Civic Center. Purchase tickets here from the Civic Center. 

This year’s concert will include eight groups or individuals. The total of musicians performing will be around two dozen, in addition to JAM members.

Strictly Clean and Decent with Kay and Patrick Crouch and Ron Shuffler.

Caldwell Junior Appalachian Musicians performing traditional string music.

Ridgeline: A bluegrass band featuring Jim Matheson on guitar, Mike Nelson on banjo, Tim Greene on mandolin and guitar, April Flanders on fiddle, Larry Wright on bass, and Jimmy Houston on guitar.

MaisCeu featuring multi-instrumentalist Jimmie Griffith performing Brazilian music.

Max Waters playing Southern gospel, jazz, and blues piano.

Strictly Strings performing old time and contemporary string band music.  The band is Kathleen Burnett on fiddle and guitar, Anissa Burnett on bass and fiddle, Willow Dillon on banjo, fiddle, bass, and cello, Caleb Coatney on mandolin, banjo, and guitar, and Cecil Gurganus on guitar, fiddle, and bass.

strictly-strings-4

Strictly Strings as seen on the cover of their album, ‘High on a Mountain.’ Photo by Martin Church.

Sycamore Bones with Cory Kinal, Andrew Massey, and Abigail Taylor performing original music.

Darren Bryant and Justin Clyde Williams performing country music.

Nancy Posey will be emcee.

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