August 08: Plugged in

August 08: Plugged in

Talk about full circle: Megan Huddleston now lives in a house near Crozet where, as a 15-year-old, she fed dogs for a neighbor and had permission to walk through the nearby fields whenever she wanted. A year ago, she and her boyfriend Ferd Moyse—he’s a member of the Hackensaw Boys and they both play in the band Mister Baby—were looking to escape cramped quarters in Belmont. “The big thing was I wanted to be somewhere we could play music at any time,” she says.

It was “serendipity” that she ran into the woman whose dogs she’d fed, and that the house was now up for rent. Moving in put Huddleston close to her mother and brother, and with some good friends also in the neighborhood, she feels part of an “outpost”—separate from Charlottesville but pleasantly tight-knit.

The house is a brick rancher with plenty of space around it, and in its main room—the one with the bay window and the front door—a red velvet couch and chair cosy up to the drumset that has pride of place in the center of the floor. There’s also a piano, an organ, various guitars, well-stocked shelves of books and LPs, a wall sculpture by local artist Andy Faith, and an ever-dwindling collection of L. Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz novels. (In grade school, Huddleston “saved and saved” to buy all 14 in the series; now she sends another volume each year to her friend’s daughter, on the girl’s birthday.)

And, of course, there’s music.

“The main thing in a living space is to have a place to create. I want the attitude of the house to be about creation. So take the best room in the house, and put the drums in it.

“No one who lives here plays the drums well. But I love to crank ‘Billy Jean’ and try to play along. I’m not gonna do that if the neighbors can hear.

“Planned practices [for Mister Baby] are actually rather rare—one or two a month, or never. But an assortment of Mister Babies will be in this room playing music two, three, four times a week. When we really practice it’s pretty darn directed. [Otherwise] it’s that whole communal music thing. Everyone who comes in gets to have a go. Ferd’s got friends from everywhere. It was 3 in the morning and the Steep Canyon Rangers pulled their RV up to the front door and ran an extension cord in. The guitar player had never played plugged in, and he was playing [electric guitar]. It was awesome.

“The piano was already here. [The couch and chair] came with the place and the woman who owns the house was apologetic: Oh, could you possibly use these? We had no furniture. Hell yeah, I can use them.
“I love how [the artwork is] Andy’s, the organ is Jesse [Fisk’s, another Hackensaw], the bass belongs to our friend Jake, the drums are my brother’s. I just love how it’s not all stuff that we sought out and brought here. It makes it so other people come over and play their stuff. No matter where I look, something reminds me of something.
“The wall right here, the kids’ names [and height marks, from previous occupants] are on the wall. I made this switchplate cover from a book about Elvis and The Colonel. The wall looked kind of dirty to be hosting such a fine object. So I painted it [but left the names].”

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