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Clearwater trip report, sorta - Barnstorming on an Invisible Segway [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Marissa Lingen

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Clearwater trip report, sorta [Jun. 23rd, 2011|12:42 pm]
Marissa Lingen
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Tonight we start with stuff for 4th St., which will be awesome, but it would be somewhat less crunched if we hadn't just returned from New York. No, I know, I didn't say we were going to New York; I didn't because we were more going through New York City than to it, and we had made arrangements to see markgritter's brothers in Poughkeepsie, but really that was all we had time for after the first bit. Because we were there for Clearwater Folk Festival.

So between Saturday and Sunday I saw: Dar Williams, Janis Ian, Josh Ritter, Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion, Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie, a great huge conglomeration of Guthries and Seegers and Reagons and Ungars and who knows what-all else, Tao Seeger Band, Suzanne Vega, Indigo Girls, and Red Horse (Lucy Kaplansky, John Gorka, and Eliza Gilkyson).

As markgritter mentioned on his lj at the time, the logistics were really very poorly done, especially the traffic direction (or lack of same). We have since received an e-mail apology from the festival runners, saying that they in no way expected to have nearly that many people. No kidding. They had one exit from the main freeway that ended in a stop sign, making a T with a street that had no stop sign. There was no temporary stop, no one there directing traffic, so...yah. No kidding they had not planned for the numbers they were dealing with. (There were also sound issues pertaining to that underestimate; sigh.) And to my mind one of the secrets of a trip like this--especially one featuring two people who have been having health problems--is not to let one's expectations get too specific. Still, in the hour and a half we were sitting in that half-mile of traffic on 9A, I kept trying not to think that we might well be missing Dar Williams's set, that she might at that very moment be singing "The Hudson." So then when we got there and she was only halfway through her set and we were in time to hear "The Hudson" with the eponymous river sparkling not a hundred feet from the stage--probably not fifty feet--I was happy. I was extremely happy.

Ditto Pete Seeger: he is 92 years old, and we wanted to see Pete. And now we have. If I'd gotten fixated on what exactly he was singing, or how many songs, it would have been easy to get disappointed. Instead--hey, look, Pete Seeger. He can only really sing one song at a go these days, but his style of shouting out the line for everybody before we're all supposed to sing it served him well in this context, made it less obvious that he had been fairly weak and winded at the end of the song he did sing. It moved the focus from what he couldn't do to what he could, and that was really lovely. Also I am greatly fond of Tao Rodriguez Seeger, not least because I am a sucker for people who adore their grandpas. For some reason. He did a version of "Well May the World Go" that made me extremely happy and also made me want to hire a steel drum player to follow Tao around for when he needs one.

Other things I think should exist: Josh Ritter should always have an ASL interpreter at his concerts, and that ASL interpreter should never have been briefed in advance. Because this poor woman's face. It was better than tnh's face when we did "Folk Bloodbath" last year in music circle at 4th St. It was awesome. She kept up like a champ, but she shot him a number of Looks: what? You want me to sign what?

I wish the Indigo Girls had been more political--it was Clearwater, for the love of, um, Pete, not a random folk festival--they clearly trust their own fans more than random folk festival fans with their political stuff, and I get that, but Lord knows everyone else was going political there, and I like the Indigo Girls' political stuff much better than most other people's. And I wish the sound balance had been better for Red Horse--we left partway through the set because the sound from another stage was so overwhelming that we couldn't parse what Red Horse was doing very well. Finally, I wish Sarah Lee and Johnny had not decided to do a stint as a fake band on a sitcom--okay, they didn't literally, but that's what they sounded like. Dad said, when I was telling him this on the phone, "Sounded like parodies of themselves, huh?", and I said yes, but I couldn't put my finger on what was wrong with that until a few days later, and it was that they didn't even sound like parodies of themselves, they sounded like parodies of someone else. Someone with far less musical background than I know they have.

But on the whole we had a good time, and it had the most Mrissable festival food I've ever had. Such tasty plantains. So many veggie options for when I have been out in the hot sun and do not want to even smell meat. So very good. Wish I had some of those plantains for lunch today, even without the hot sun. Ah well. They don't really travel.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: mamculuna
2011-06-23 08:38 pm (UTC)
Pete Seeger!! How marvelous.

And I love Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion (my homeboy--they used to live in my town and I used to have the treat of seeing them regularly, but now they've left, understandably, for Guthrie land).
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2011-06-24 02:40 pm (UTC)
I have really liked their past work, both adult and children's albums, but the new stuff they did for this concert did not sound either like their old selves or like anything else wonderful. It was disappointing. I hope it's a temporary blip.
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[User Picture]From: mamculuna
2011-06-24 02:48 pm (UTC)
Too bad. They wrote some good songs on the old albums.
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From: kightp
2011-06-23 09:08 pm (UTC)
Parking hassles aside, I am in deep, deep envy - every musician on your list is someone I've heard live before and would dearly love to hear live again.

(And the Indigo Girls seem to have ... moved on? moved sidways? ... from their political stuff of late. They played here last year and while it was a lovely concert, it had very little of the old fire.)
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2011-06-24 02:42 pm (UTC)
I heard them I think it was two years ago, and Amy did "Let It Ring" and made me cry. I hope she does that again sometimes, but I wonder if more of her political stuff is getting done as solo work? Dunno. Anyway, pretty much everything in this concert was on Retrospective, which is one of the best Greatest Hits albums I know of, but it was made severalmany years ago, so I was a bit surprised.
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[User Picture]From: wild_irises
2011-06-24 04:03 pm (UTC)
Ahh, Pete Seeger. As dear to my heart as any performer alive.

I last saw him live about 15 years ago, when he had already lost most of his voice. But it didn't matter then and it doesn't matter now.

At that concert, I brought a very political friend who is about 17-18 years younger than me (I'll be sixty in a week). He was blown away not even so much by Pete as by the crowd. "I've never really been around political optimism before," he said, with a combination of delight and wistfulness.

So glad you got to be there.
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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2011-06-24 04:45 pm (UTC)
For us the political optimism in this particular incarnation was a mixed bag. On the one hand, bawling out "I Don't Want Your Millions, Mister" with the entire crowd was awesome. On the other hand, there were some of the smaller-stage, more specialized songs that went beyond political optimism and into a kind of technical unrealism that made me say to the guys, in exasperation, "Yes, songs can change the world. You know what else can change the world? Doing the math."

Oh, another political note: "I Don't Want Your Millions, Mister," makes reference to the Farmer-Labor Party, and afterwards timprov said to me, "Do you suppose we were the youngest people there to vote for a Farmer-Labor candidate?" And I did suppose exactly that. It's kind of important here in Minnesota that we don't have a Democratic Party, we have a Democratic Farmer-Labor Party. There are members of my family who are still disgusted with JFK for talking to Minnesotans about "the DLF Pahty," on the "get it RIGHT!" axis.
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