The Chill Of Lonesome by Christophe Boutin


Ed. Note: We received this note from Christophe Boutin of Paris, France and wanted to pass it on to all:

“I am very happy to share that book of photos about Ernie [Thacker] and his family. These people are wonderful and they were the nicest people welcoming us at their home for a week everyday. We regret these days and we hope that this book is a good record of these beautiful bluegrass musicians deep in the heart of Virginia.”

Here is the full PDF of the entire book in high resolution.


The Chill of Lonesome is the title of a bluegrass album by Ernie Thacker. Ernie, his family and friends are amazing bluegrass musicians. They live in Clinchco, Virginia.

Back in 2006, I suggested to Mélanie Scarciglia, my partner, Chris Hoover, our Good Samaritan (and producer) and Garret Linn, movie director (two of my good friends from New York), to go visit Ernie Thacker and his band, Route 23, and make a film about bluegrass music. Our destination was the small town of Clinchco, Virginia. We drove the 14 hours from NYC to Clinchco without knowing what we would find there. I had only seen the band once, two years earlier, at the first Bourbon and Bluegrass Festival in Frankfort, Kentucky and was impressed by Ernie and his brother Matthew on bass and vocals.
Ernie was, for many years, playing the lead guitar for Dr. Ralph Stanley as a Clinch Mountain Boys member then he decided to trace his own route (RT 23) with his brother Matthew and sister D.D..

The Thacker family are true musicians and remarkable human beings, they remind me of a modern version of the almost mythical Carter Family. We also had the chance to meet Ernie’s parents, they invited us with our cameras into their home and happily agreed to talk and answer our questions.

A few weeks after our passage in Clinchco we were saddened to hear that Ernie had been in a car accident and was in a coma. Three years later Ernie is now back on stage in a wheelchair and recording again. (“The Hangman” at Pinecastle Records, with Matthew Thacker, bass, Dick Roach, banjo and Brandon Shuping at the mandolin) He is also accepting concert dates for the 2009 summer festivals.

We follow the lives of these good people from afar and thanks to the internet (and Chris Hoover) we manage to keep in contact. Matthew got married to his girlfriend Jen, they have now had a baby, D.D. is a mother for the second time, Dorothy, Ernie’s wife, is now RT23 band manager, recently Dick Roach suffered a heart attack and sadly Mr. Thacker Sr. died.

The material we gathered is so dense and the experience of sharing the lives of Ernie and his troupe so intense that, when back in our respective homes, it took us a while to edit our photos and all the movie footage. This book is my first attempt to reconstruct and share with the viewer/reader the rich mosaic of souvenirs we gathered during that week in deep Virginia.

I want to thank them all, as well as Mélanie, Chris and Garret for helping me explore a little patch of bluegrass, on what turned out to be a far from lonesome trail.
C. B. – Paris, 2009


Christophe Boutin
One Star Press
Three Star Books

Christophe Boutin

Christophe Boutin was born in Paris in 1957. After graduating from Ecole Estienne and two additional years of study at the Ecole des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, he co-founded the punk band Edith Nylon in 1977 and recorded three albums through 1983. Soon after, Boutin made his transition into the visual arts where he exhibited his works in numerous galleries and institutions such as Yvon Lambert (Paris) in 1987 and Giorgio Persano Gallery (Turin) 1992. In subsequent years the digital age inspired Boutin to direct his focus towards the development and creation of artist’s books as works of art and thus he co-founded both onestar press and Three Star Books ; two distinguished book presses dedicated to the publication of books by artists.

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