Day 24: Interstate Tour 2018
The weather gods smiled upon the Indiana Fiddlers Gathering today, and many were happier for it.
It was another fabulous day of music, visiting with folks, exploring the Tippecanoe Battle Museum and enjoying a wonderful meal at the Founders tent while sharing some conversation with members of Roochie Toochie and the Ragtime Shepherd Kings. They say at every festival, you find one new artist that really hits you in all the right ways. Their afternoon set was my favorite of the weekend, and then, sitting down to dinner with them, they turn out to be a truly cool group of folks from down in N'awlins. I'm trying to talk them into a winter Florida tour, just so I can hang out with them some more. They're a hoot.
I went in a different direction for my second set of the festival. Opened with "Juke Joint Hen" and segued into "Run On". Then, shifted gears from "choich" into tragi-comedy with "Only A Northwest Song" and then turned around and dropped "Tecumseh's Homecoming" on them.
There's a duo called Small Potatoes that I love dearly, just exquisite writers, musicians, entertainers, crafters. Their shows leave me breathless, and I'll never forget them doing some hysterical tune like "Knott!" at a show in Louisville, like something you'd hear on "Hee Haw", but far more cultured, and then they turned it around on a dime and hit the audience dead between the eyes with a haunting, sad and lonesome ballad that chilled everyone to the bone. I thought, "man, I wanna do that someday."
I think it happened today. There was a definite quantum shift in the mood. I followed with a looped, blues-rocked "Put You Down" before ending on a couple of G tunes, "Colored Aristocracy" and "Barlow Knife." They asked for an encore and I played "Amazing Grace."
My connection with the audience is the most important part of live performance and I know that I have to work for that connection, try to be tuned-in to vibes, moods, time, place and circumstance. Even weather. I try to be in the moment at all times, even with the stuff that gets planned, which isn't much. The ADHD in me doesn't allow for plans to be stored and retrieved later while on stage. Post-it notes would work better, and wouldn't that just look kinda tacky? So, I've learned to sort of gauge the atmosphere and then just wing it. If it looks like I know what I'm doing or have any idea of where any given show is going next, then I'm doing my job. I have no idea. I'd like to think that I'm the driver of this vehicle, but quite often I'm merely the passenger.
After the set, a number of people came up to me regarding "Tecumseh's Homecoming." Really, too many to mention here, but much of it had to do with telling it from the Native side and reminding folks of what took place not 200 feet from the stage, and meeting people who were related to men who were there that tragic morning of November 7th, 1811. It's like the story that Rick Thum tells about him performing the John Prine song, "Paradise", at a family get-together. I won't spoil the story, you have to hear Rick tell it, but it sends a chill up my spine every time.
The song sprung to life, fed by all the walking around the battlefield and trying to get into the heads of everyone involved. I'm like CSI: Tippecanoe over here, re-tracing steps and looking at attack angles. Maybe it's because it's on a relatively smaller scale and I can sort of wrap my mind around how it all went down. When I go to Gettysburg (which will be this coming Saturday - my annual 8+ hour marathon show at The Garryowen Irish Pub), I just sort of go into a different state of mind any more, it's just so huge, the scale of loss that permeates the battlefield. It's very easy to get lost in the parades and gift shops and photo ops.
Anyway, I knew that it had to be performed for the first time right there at the battlefield. I didn't anticipate the impact that it would have on people from the area, it was incredible to hear their stories and their take on the whole thing. History isn't just something that happened in the past. It's something that takes place every day - and for some wars long past fought, we are still fighting them nonetheless.
It was a lovely day. It's been a lovely couple of days. Tomorrow comes early, though. I watched some of other wonderful acts, including the extraordinary Aaron Weinstein Trio featuring Andy Brown, holy cow, the guy transported me in the best way - just wicked! - cool stuff to chew on as I head to musical dreamland.