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Traveling On

January 13, 2022

This is an old article that was in need of reposting…

I took my wife out this last Friday for an evening of music and a bit of food. We headed for Asheville’s Black Forest Restaurant as we had been there many times to listen to one of our favorite music groups, The Travelers Club. What started out as fun evening turned out to be a shocker.

Flash backward. In 2009, we bought a home in Etowah, North Carolina and needed to install television service. I called Direct TV and soon an installer showed up. It was late and darkness had already fallen but the installer pushed forward and got the job done in the dark. After he was done, we got to talking and I learned that he was a musician and song writer with a local group called The Travelers Club. He gave me a CD and disappeared into the night.

As the months and years went by, we became friends. This man’s name was Tom Hyde. He was an extraordinarily talented song writer and a great mandolin player. I really appreciated the many songs that he crafted. We often compared notes regarding our respective music and I was often in the audience when he played locally. After our initial introduction, I offered to help him and his group with a bit of local promotion and marketing tips. In short, I was a great supporter.

Tom was like so many musicians. He was so very talented but had so many personal problems. Some of the confrontations in his life he cleverly crafted into music; others became open wounds that constantly needed his attention. In the last few years, he seemed increasingly occupied with his personal problems. Yet he had a day job and continued playing with his group. We often went to hear him play at the Black Forest Restaurant. Ironically, when we saw him last year, he told me that Direct TV never paid him for our installation years ago as well as others. It was the final reason for me to drop this dishonest company and install a flat antenna. We chatted a bit last year now and then on the phone and I promised we would come see him when we got back into town.

So along came Friday night. I phoned the Black Forest and they said they had music. I assumed it was Tom and The Travelers Club and so off to Asheville we went. When we arrived, there was another musician playing and so I inquired as to when would be the next time that Tom would be there. Never. He had passed away on December 17, 2014 after an eleven day battle with liver failure. My mouth hung open for what seemed to be a half an hour. Then my mind flashed to his three children: Ivy, Christine and Josiah. What started out as an evening of joy was suddenly turned upside down. I sat there with a beer in hand for awhile listening and talking with the new performer. He was very good but my thoughts kept flashing back to Tom and his music. I remembered my wife’s favorite, “Billy In The Low Ground” and the line “Billy’s in the low ground and I’m on the hill….” Then I remembered my favorite, “The Sunglasses Song.” A smile finally overtook me. Friends always leave a little something good!

Tom, I hope you are on that hill, sunglasses in hand and finally at peace!

Here are our song favorites from Tom’s album “On The Road Of Life:” Billy In The Low Ground and The Sunglasses Song. Enjoy and let me know what you think of Tom’s music!

Read author Allen E. Rizzi’s latest books available at

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From → America, Music, Travel

  1. I’ve always liked country music. Nowadays it sometimes works into a country-rock, but what the heck, I enjoy most music for that matter.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Listened to Sunglasses and enjoyed it. Love all the strings.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for posting, Allen. Music is good for the heart.

    Liked by 1 person

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