Friday, May 06, 2005
Last Friday my daughter and I headed for the hills. It was Merlefest week-end in Wilkes County, North Carolina and we wanted to hear our new favorite band, Railroad Earth.
Those of you who have followed this blog for a while know that I have posted about the band before, first after I heard them in Floyd and later when they fell in with Phil Lesh last winter. They had not been in the area since last September when my wife and I heard them in Charlotte.
The timing of their appearance could have been better for us. My daughter was battling a nasty sinus infection. However, RRE was schedule to play twice that evening, justifying both the steep one-day ticket price and the frown of her doctor - had he known. I needed to get back to my mother's by Saturday to attend to family medical business, so Friday evening was all I had. And it was the last day of the semester at my wife's college which made it inappropriate for her to cancel her classes, as would have been necessary. So she had to make do with the RRE t-shirt and hat I brought back.
We were early to the Hillside stage and enjoyed front row center seats for the first performance.
And as the band closed the Watson stage that night, nice ushers allowed us to sneak into a relatively empty part of the reserved section. This allowed us to get much closer than 250 yards to the band. As you can see in this daytime photo, the Watson stage is a large venue.
Of course, both sets the band played were wonderful, as was all the music that evening. But what made last Friday so special were the two members of the band, Andy and Tim, who took the time to talk with my daughter and me. My wife had enjoyed their music when both were members of Blue Sparks from Hell, an east coast jump blues and swing band, in the early 1980's. So when I recognized Andy on the sidewalk before the first show, we approached him. He proved happy to chat with total strangers about the Blue Sparks, as well as more current events, as we walked toward the Hillside stage area. Parting, my daughter and I settled in at the foot of the stage under threatening skies to enjoy the Footworks Percussive Dance Ensemble. This photo lifted from a website shows Andy and Tim doing the same behind us.
After RRE's Hillside set I caught Tim during a pause in striking the stage and asked him if he would shake hands with my daughter. I knew from his web site and talking with him in Charlotte that he had recently played for the Dalai Lama in India and shaken his hand. My daughter's affection for His Holiness being considerable, I knew she would be thrilled to talk with him and shake the hand that shook the Hand. Tim was also most gracious and the two of them talked for some time. I noticed afterward that the cares of her day had seemed to melt away; even her sinuses felt better.
Few things in life have proved as joyful over the years as seeing my daughter happy. She told me on the phone later that while she liked their music before, now she was a Hobo. I could almost hear her smile.