Earlier this summer, I wrote that I was going to savor the last swim team season. And I did just that, up to and including adding an extra meet onto the calendar to watch Andrew and his relay mates set a new team record in the All-Star meet. We were thrilled he got to compete in that best-of-the-best meet in a hotbed of swimming!
But this past Saturday got off to a great start, helped by the fact that I didn’t have to be at the pool at 7 a.m. for the first time this summer!
So here are a few remembrances from a nice summer weekend that kept bringing thoughts (and connections) back to music.
Candice and I were at the local farmer’s market on Saturday, looking to get some great Evensong Farm eggs from our friend Julie. (Quick aside: I didn’t realize how tasteless store-bought eggs are until we missed our Evensong eggs for six straight weeks!) Julie’s father is bluegrass bass and Seldom Scene legend Tom Gray – and he’s also her regular helper at the market. When I saw Tom, I went and struck up a conversation about his recent pairing with Eddie and Martha Adcock. Tom told me about their music and upcoming plans (including a November DC-area show on the 21st with the Institute of Musical Tradition). He joined the Adcocks in time to play on their recent CD featuring original Country Gentlemen songs. (Tom and Eddie are the two surviving members of that seminal band.) I told Tom that my very first bluegrass festival was Mac Wiseman’s Renfro Valley Festival – where Martha and Eddie handled the sound and also were one of the featured acts. It was a great way to spend 10 minutes with a real gentleman (not to mention a terrific bassist) and hear some of his stories from the road.
Later that afternoon, I was over at the House of Musical Traditions buying strings for my guitars (see photo at the top), when they pointed me next door where Suzy Bogguss was signing autographs and selling copies of her CD. I wandered over and chatted for 5 minutes or so with this wonderful singer, who was appearing that night at the Birchmere. Suzy’s new project is a great album and book of American folk songs, called the American Folk Songbook. Check out her YouTube video singing Shenandoah. Simply beautiful.
And speaking of beautiful voices…on Sunday night (after restringing those guitars), Candice and I traveled out to Wolf Trap to catch Alison Krauss and Union Station featuring Jerry Douglas. It was a muggy night (humidity at least 120 percent!), but it didn’t matter…it was a great night for music. Candice had never heard Alison live, so when she started singing Paper Airplane, Candice turned to me and said, “My goodness, what a voice!”
It was a pretty flawless AKUS performance, as you would expect from these world class musicians. They handled the instrumentals well, including a nice version early in the concert of Jerry Douglas’ paean to Uncle Josh Graves: Who’s Your Uncle. They played for two straight hours without a break, squeezing in just about all of Alison’s greatest hits – and Dan Tyminski’s as well.
And the weekend came full circle when Jerry Douglas spoke from the stage about moving to Washington early in his career to play bluegrass with none other than – The Country Gentlemen. He joined the band about a decade after Tom Gray left the “classic” Country Gentlemen lineup, but the connections are real and never-ending.
The encore featured the band gathered round a single mic, singing beautiful harmonies in the old style. You can catch a sample of the evening’s concert with the video below of AKUS singing Down to the River to Pray, from the O Brother soundtrack.
A wonderful way to end a nice summer weekend.
More to come…