Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Across the Wide Missouri

Thespian Hall, where the big concerts were held

We played the Big Muddy Festival in Boonville, MO, this past weekend. It was a gonzo kinda deal, with us leaving Friday morning from Greensboro Airport, down to Atlanta, then over to St. Louis, where we grabbed a Red Roof Inn and a sandwich at Jack in the Box, then over to Maplewood where there's a club called the Focal Point. We did a concert there, then crashed at the Red Roof, back on the road by 8 am to drive out to Boonville, and old river town about in the center of Missouri. I had a fiddle workshop at 11 am, then we had other "miniconcerts" in the afternoon, then we closed the main concert, hitting the sack about 1 am. Then up at 7ish, on the road back to St. Louis to catch our flight, one stop at Cincinnati, and because the flight crew on the last leg back to Greensboro was two hours late leaving Minneapolis, a long wait, and finally homeish, Greensboro at 11:20 pm, home fer real, and to bed. Thus does the Craver,Hicks,Watson, Newberry Group appear and disappear till the next time round. This coming weekend Libby and I are driving over to Weldon, NC, to play a contra. A far more stately sort of deal.

You know how planes are. I didn't even have a piece of paper to write on, so I missed a poem that came as I watched the landscape from 25,000 feet as we crossed the territory from Atlanta to St. Louis. I got nothing, but it was there at the time. The terrain from that height is pretty much the same all the way. The trees hadn't budded out, but there was lots of green grass. Missouri was exactly like NC, maybe a day or two behind at most. Redbud must be the state tree. They were everywhere, and in full bloom. The pollen was about the same too. Because the winter turned instantly to summer, everything exploded at once. Singing at the Focal Point was tough for me--the pollen gets me pretty good in the throat and nose. At least I wasn't sneezing on stage. That's for the fescue, which doesn't get going till mid-May.

We're all beavers you know. I always think of the continent as it was, before the prairie met the plow so to speak. The human activity is constant and endless. The roads are full of cars, 24/7, the lights run along the rivers as far as you can see from the height of the planes--on the way back to Greensboro I could see the Ohio for at least half the trip it seemed like, city after city. In Boonville, built before the Civil War and named for ole Daniel, who left NC and made it to Colorado, the houses and buildings are mostly brick, but obviously rather hand-made, which means all sorts of interesting details they don't do any more because it's too expensive. Ogee bricks in a course to make a shadow line and define a column. Curved bricks to make round columns on the opera hall we did the night concert in, which also had thick masonry walls and was used for a while as a stockade. Cut stone blocks, where you could see the drill marks, for foundations. Arches galore.

Now Boonville sports a couple of floating casinos on the Missouri. We were too busy up the hill to actually get down to the river. Maybe next trip--I'd have liked to spent a day wandering the little town with my camera--which I didn't bring this time. Literature on Boonville says that Native Americans lived around there for ten thousand years before Dan'l arrived and run 'em off.

If you like swing music, check out the band Swing deVille, which opened the show. They feature two great young Missouri fiddlers. Here's a link:
Missouri is one of the "capitals" of fiddling anyways, so it wasn't surprising that these two guys were great. This band plays both Texas Swing, and more "modern" swing-ish music, including even neat original tunes like "Arabesque," by their guitar player. I suggested to Matt, one of the fiddlers, that he might like listening to some Satie and seeing how those haunting melodies could be placed into the swing idiom. I hope he does.

I like the fact that we're running smaller planes these days. The captain of the last late leg came on board and said, "I thought I was going home, but it's Greensboro. I'll get us there a little faster than usual." And he did too.

Yesterday I was back on the chimney, and the trees have all leafed out here--the summer woods has returned. The pollen is still around I'm sorry to report.

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