I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe
The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken
Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell
August 31, 2017 - 2:49 p.m.
Good things I have something fun to write about today or I'd be making a political rant. If it could do good I'd make it but it wouldn't. Instead I'll write about magical music and felicitous friends with the travel travails thrown in for contrast. I hope you appreciate the illuminating alliteration.
Yesterday I traveled to Parker Press Park in Woodbridge NJ by public transit to see Harpeth Rising and Honor Finnegan as part of the Woodbridge Wednesday series. That's not exactly easy to get to by public transit from City Island, a bus, 4 subways, and Jersey Transit commuter rail. The trip to Penn Station was a breeze. It's 4 trains but an easy 4 trains. I got to Penn station in an hour and twenty minutes. I realized that I somehow left my house half an hour early and that was just making sure to not miss the train. I could have actually left an hour later. As I was early I took the train that left a half an hour before the one I planned on. I said that the travels were troubled so you know that something is going to happen. One hint, there is no zombie dragon.
The first sign of trouble was when they made an announcement that a train was canceled and that the people planning on taking that one should switch to my train which would now run local. If I were smart I would have just waited half an hour to the next express. Too bad I'm an idiot.
I expected the train to be extra crowded so I made sure to board early. I went way down the platform to find a less crowded car. The air-conditioning wasn't working but I was afraid that if I changed cars I wouldn't get a seat.
The delay from running local adds 20 minutes to the trip. I really should have just waited for the express. I didn't know that at the time. But that's not the worst part. At the Elizabeth station, the train doors closed and the train didn't move. It sat there and it sat there and it sat there. There was no explanation. The car got hotter and hotter. Other trains were passing us by. The express I should have waited for passed us by. Everyone was getting irritated but in a shared suffering sort of way. I was commiserating with the woman sitting next to me. We had a moment. Finally, the train started to move and we were given the explanation, one passenger assaulted another; we had been waiting for the police to arrive. We couldn't blame New Jersey Transit for that. I suggested that we should all assault the assaulter for making us wait. I know that's not right. We should have tied him to the tracks.
With all that I still arrived at the park more than an hour before the concert started, just an hour later than I would have without problems. I had planned on getting pizza but instead I set up my chair, saved a spot for Fred next to me and went in search of musicians. First, I found Honor talking to Bill. Bill books and hosts the series. I talked to them and then went to the green room, which in this case is an entire building that's green. It's a small one room plus lavatory building, the site of the printing press the park is named for.
I knocked on the door, they were surprised that anyone was knocking and asked who it was. Even though I told them it was me they let me in. People have such poor judgement. Then they invited me to eat. This is the second time I had HP greenroom food. There were wraps an Wegman's diet cola. I should have asked Michelle if she was excited about that; she's from Rochester. From what I can tell in Western New York Wegmans are treated as holy temples; right Paul an Neal? I know that Jordana was excited when she realized that Honor Among Thieves would be a great name for Honor's band. She bolted out to tell her. I love these people Harpeth Rising is the aforementioned Michelle and Jordana, and Maria. Jordana's husband David manages the band.
I got back to my seat right before Fred arrived. I waited for him, said hi, then when he went to talk to Bill I handed out the cards for the Hudson West Fest in Jersey City. It was a very receptive audience. I'm pretty sure some of them will go. People came over and asked me for cards. Some already had tickets. Perry and Beth sat up next to Fred and I so there were four people sitting together that were going. Joe who does sound for Woodbridge Wednesdays is doing sound for Hudson West too. It's a small world.
I have not seen Honor since she opened for Joe Crookston, that was in February or March. This is by far the longest I've gone without seeing her. It's been a year and a half for Fred. We are used to seeing her at least every couple of months. We are going through withdrawal. Do I have to sing the praises of Honor again? She's a brilliant songwriter, a great singer, and a charming entertainer. She literally makes you laugh and makes you cry. She can also knock your socks off with her singing; that's why I was wearing sandals.
She tried to do two sing-alongs. This was not a sing-along crowd. Fred and I did our best as did whoever was sitting to my right. It's tough to do anything complex or new to people in an outdoor setting unless you have the right crowd, serious music fans. I will always sing along. I'm with Pete Seeger, singing is something you do, not just listen to.
Honor was joined on the last song by Harpeth Rising. They did a much better job of singing along. I didn't know they knew each other but they met at NERFA; that's where I met HR. They clicked with each other just like I clicked with each of them. Makes sense, they are all silly people I can have intellectual conversations with.
During the intermission, I hawked the Festival again. Notice the banner at the bottom of the entry? You can click on that and buy tickets like all the cool kids.
There is no one I know that does what Harpeth Rising does. Bands like Haas Kowert Tice do chamber folk, a cross between classical and trad folk but they do mainly instrumentals and not much harmony. There are many groups that do beautiful harmonies but don't combine it with virtuoso musicianship and instrumentals. The closest I can think of is Darlingside. They don't sound like each other but have similar skill sets and instrumentation. Who wants to book them together? It would be a great bill.
I heard them discuss that they would do a song that would start with patter and tuning an evolve into a song that would make people's heads explode. I did not hear what song it was. I promised that I'd act surprised. The song was House of the Rising Sun. I hope somebody recorded it you can hear the foom of my head exploding. Did you know that "foom" is the sound a head makes when it explodes?
I have seen Harpeth rising dozens of time. I've seen Honor scores and scores, but each time I see them I'm blown away anew. If we lived in a just world they'd be playing Carnegie Hall.
Jane, Bernie, and I are heading up to Ridgefield to see Harpeth Rising again. Once again, it's in a park, Ballard, and the presenter is a friend, Barbara Manners. We'll be joined by Jim and Marilyn who I met at a show that Honor did in Park Slope. Like I said, it's a small incestuous world, just ask Jon and Dany. That's a Game of Thrones reference. Sorry Honor.
Getting home was easier. First, I rode the NJ Transit with Honor so I had good company. The train was not hot. Nobody assaulted anybody. The only difficulty was at the end. I was tagging pictures of Facebook and texting Honor. I had told her I'd get home at 12:33. I was so proud that I nailed it. I went to text her about it. I looked out the window. I was half a mile past my stop. I'm an idiot. I had to walk back. I did get off the bus at 12:33.
Two days in a row without discussing politics or natural disaster. There's more going on in the world, much of it good.
Brother Brothers in Arms - October 01, 2017
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