Sunday, March 12, 2006

When There's No One Around

More and more, I'm beginning to believe I live in a vacuum. I believe I've come to a new juncture, between actually walking the walk and being an ardent fan.

I preach the gospel of live music, ladies and gentlemen. Most of you know that by now. In my mind there is little that music can't help you figure out. Moreover, the intimate delivery of music in smaller venues by talented singer-songwriters is a completely different experience than most "concertgoers" are used to. You have to be prepared for the vulnerability that sets in; I wept on more than one occasion because it was impossible not to.

Maybe folks find this kind of touching inappropriate? Can't imagine.

A lot of my friends never make it out with me to see a live show. They missed one helluva show last night at the Kent Stage, and I realized maybe I should have tried harder to get folks to go along. I set out to hear Darrell Scott and in the meantime learned that a local favorite named Chittlin was going to open the show. Chittlin' astounds me every time she takes the stage. This young lady is all of 16, and writes with such depth and wisdom that it's just hard to remember that. She comes from an extremely talented and hardworking musical family who spent years in Nashville trying to make it. But all bets are on Chittlin' and her brother, David Mayfield (who at a young 20 something is a fiery mandolin talent, which he proved when he took the stage last night with Darrell Scott). She just released a new album. Check out the Mayfield family Web ring at http://www.davidmayfield.net/.

After chatting with Chittlin' and her mom (both will be treated in future Girl Fridays), I settled back into my seat for round two, Diana Jones. Her first song had me hooked for life. She has a humor and a delivery that reminds me of Gillian Welch, and a style that grabbed me as completely. Diana Jones possesses an incredible voice, and she knows how to apply it to the Appalachian idiom when singing her songs of family, death, and redemption (for lack of a better word). She also will be vetted here for a future Girl Friday.

The goal of the evening was Darrell Scott, and if you ever get a chance to see him, don't pass it up. He's penned hundreds of songs, and been widely recorded by top stars in the country music industry, which he openly disdains but in this business, you do what you gotta do to put some bread on the table. I have heard him on several occasions, and even I was unprepared for his performance last night.

So many songs, so many perfect songs, in a voice clear and penetrating, unfolding for us the roadmap, making us feel so much less alone. (If anyone out there hiding in Blogland can get their hands on the lyrics to "Love's Not Through With Me Yet" which I've heard him perform for three years running but which has not yet been recorded, please contact me!)

The composite effect of the evening is one I just can't describe. And I should have tried a lot harder to get folks down there, people in my life for whom that experience might have meant not just a nice evening out but made a real difference.

As much as I believe that it's all about that, about the experience and what it can mean to someone, conversion is really the purvue of religious zealots. So I go on my own way, quietly afraid I'll drive my friends nuts or turn them off the stuff completely if I hassle them to join me on occasion. My commitment to this stuff really sets me apart from the people in my life, and so while I have never shied away from something simply because I had to go it alone, in the overall picture I am a little isolated. I'm not like anyone else I know well, and have no one in my present who shares my voracious appetite for this kind of music in a way that makes it possible to share the experience. I guess I have to be prepared for that going forward, because this isn't a hobby. It's a calling, and I have to answer it. It's a little odd, and sometimes lonely, but the new connections that go along with it make the whole thing worthwhile.

In the meantime I don't want the Ivory Tower experience. A lot of the literature I'm plowing through falls to the side of erudite. I don't want to be some shriveled up old woman writing about bluegrass in the digital age -- oh wait, I already am! LOL. (Just kidding.) I want what I do to bring it even more alive, more real and accessible for the people I love and people everywhere. I fear the exact opposite will happen.

I'm going to leave you with this sweet and happy song by Darrell. He wrote it a little over ten years ago when he and his wife found out they were expecting the unexpected. I longed for this, and wanted to be in the kind of marriage that would have been able to handle such a situation with this kind of humor, grace, and love. I wasn't, and so now I'm living vicariously through friends who are. I dedicate this one to my friends Janice and Bruno, who with their three little ones make it all work beautifully and on their terms. Bravo.

I promise that, soon, I'll get a little radio going, or incorporate downloads into the blog. Meanwhile, suffer through this a little longer, because I promise you'll be glad you did.

Family Tree
Darrell Scott (Famous Music/ Chuck Wagon Gourmet Music, ASCAP)

Dancin in the living room, cuttin' up a rug Dancin' with a baby looks more like a hug Livin' in a house made of saw mill wood Roll Over Beethoven never sounded so good

Hey, hey baby, baby let's go Where we get the money, honey, I don't know One more baby's all right by me We'll just add another limb to the family tree

Raisin' up babies is our new sport You're one day late and I'm a dollar short Now maybe it was planned or maybe it was a goof But a cat just has to dance on a hot tin roof

Hey, hey baby, baby let's go Where we get the money, honey, I don't know One more baby's all right by me We'll just add another limb to the family tree

Well the lawn mower's broke and the tax is due And if I find another tick I'm gonna come unglued We got hand me-down clothes, hand me-down shoes We got the big-belly-mama-here-we-go-again blues

Hey, hey baby, baby let's go Where we get the money, honey, I don't know One more baby's all right by me We'll just add another limb to the family tree

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