Saturday, July 11, 2009

Bluegrass Bliss

Wow. Too weekends in a row with fabulous music -- outdoor concerts, free to the public, the whole "kids and dogs" scene from last weekend replayed today.

This was "Bluegrass on the Grass," the 14th annual Bluegrass festival sponsored by Dickinson College on a big grassy, shaded lawn outside one of their beautiful old stone buildings. There were five Bluegrass bands, each playing a set of about 45 minutes, and each coming on twice. We were there from before it started (1:00 p.m.) until the last screams and accolades were over about 9:15.

Not only was it threatening rain when we arrived, the radar showed that we were due to be hammered by thunderstorms throughout the afternoon. It did rain a little bit now and then, even enough to warrant some umbrellas going up (including ours), but not much rain materialized until about 7:30 when it really did pour for a while. But by then the die-hards were not about to leave, as the Dismembered Tenneseans were playing and nobody wanted to miss them. We huddled under our umbrella keeping out heads dry, though our perimeters got soaked, but the music was so good who cares?

The bands varied in musical styles and appeal (though it's hard to go wrong with Bluegrass music). But by far the best were the Steep Canyon Rangers, from Asheville, NC. Five guys wearing suits (!) who were brilliant instrumentalists and really good singers. In their first set, they sang an a capella piece that sent chills down our spines "I Just Got to Heaven and I Want to Look Around." Their second set made the rain stop (I am not kidding about this). By then people were a little more lubricated than the afternoon crowd, and there was wild dancing on the pavement in front of the bandstand -- sopping wet kids leaping and pirouetting in bare feet, rhythmic clapping from the audience, screams and whistles and standing ovations for every piece. I tell you, these guys were GOOD!

I'm planning my winter calendar around their next appearance in this area.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

I'm a Sap for This Stuff

Just home from the Independence Weekend/Summerfest concert, a perfect ending to the holiday weekend. (Weekend? What weekend? I had a wedding rehearsal Friday afternoon followed by the rehearsal dinner, wrote a sermon Saturday morning, conducted a wedding Saturday afternoon followed by a lovely reception, preached Sunday morning and had a meeting Sunday afternoon.)

I’m a sap for these concerts. As soon as they start up with the Sousa marches I’m snuffling and choking up. Guess I’m a patriot at heart. Thank God it’s easier to be a patriot now than it was during the Long National Nightmare of the past eight years!

This is the 32nd annual Summerfest concert by the Harrisburg Symphony, held on the lawn of the Benjamin Rush campus (yes, that Benjamin Rush) of Dickinson College. Everyone for miles around comes over to the lawn with their picnics, their children, their dogs, beers and babies. Duane and I exchanged solemn vows: I promised him that I would never wear a full-length red white and blue dowdy cotton dress with stars on the bodice and stripes on the skirt, and he promised me he would never wear a similar T-shirt (especially with star-studded suspenders).

It’s a great evening for people-watching, and it’s pretty much impossible to sit anywhere without being within calling distance of someone you know. (Having lived in this town of 18,000 for 12 years, we see familiar faces everywhere we go. I like that.)

We saw a 7th grader from our congregation holding hands with her boyfriend, whom I met for the first time tonight when she came running over to me: “Judy! You wanna meet Joe?” I feel like I already know Joe from all the things she’s written about him on her Facebook page, but it was nice to shake his hand. He is apparently oblivious to the Facebook exposure.

Children ran up and down the little hill on the lawn over and over and over and over and over again, repeatedly. Some kids rolled down rather than running. Dogs cadged food wherever they could find it, and the fireflies graced us with their own languid version of fireworks as the sky darkened. Lovely!